MP silent on union spat

Ri­val pur­sues claims La­bor sup­port­ers want do­na­tions back

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - HARRISON TIPPET

CO­RANGAMITE MP Libby Coker has re­fused to con­firm if she has been asked by unions to re­pay hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in elec­tion do­na­tions.

Se­na­tor Sarah Hen­der­son, the pre­vi­ous Co­rangamite MP, on Fri­day called on Ms Coker, who de­posed her in last year’s elec­tion, to ex­plain claims unions were call­ing on her to re­pay do­na­tions af­ter she shifted in La­bor’s in­ter­nal fac­tions.

Ms Coker re­sponded that it was no se­cret that La­bor was founded by work­ers and re­ceived union sup­port, but said she was fo­cus­ing on sup­port­ing peo­ple through the COVID-19 pan­demic rather than “spend­ing time try­ing to score po­lit­i­cal points”.

Se­na­tor Hen­der­son’s call came in re­sponse to a me­dia re­port fea­tur­ing claims the CFMMEU and other trade unions wanted Ms Coker to “re­pay hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in In­dus­trial Left union do­na­tions that helped to fund their suc­cess­ful fed­eral elec­tion cam­paigns”.

The re­port also claimed Ms

Coker ben­e­fited from union vol­un­teers dur­ing her elec­tion cam­paign.

But Ms Coker did not say on Fri­day how much she re­ceived in union do­na­tions nor how many vol­un­teers unions pro­vided, and she did not con­firm or deny whether any unions had ap­proached her to re­pay do­na­tions.

“Ms Coker needs to come clean with Co­rangamite res­i­dents about how much money her cam­paign re­ceived from the CFMMEU and other unions, what deals were done in re­turn, whether Ms Coker has re­ceived any de­mand to pay back this money and, if so, what is her in­ten­tion,” Se­na­tor Hen­der­son said.

“Ms Coker also needs to re­veal whether these union elec­tion do­na­tions were prop­erly recorded and de­clared as re­quired by the Aus­tralian Elec­toral Com­mis­sion.”

Ms Coker said it was no se­cret she had re­ceived sup­port from a wide range of unions dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign.

“The La­bor Party was founded by work­ers who wanted a fairer deal and we still strive for that to­day,” she said.

“Unions have been un­der at­tack from the Ab­bott/Turn­bull/Mor­ri­son gov­ern­ment across the last seven years and there is no doubt they wanted to see the back of both Ms Hen­der­son here in Co­rangamite and Scott Mor­ri­son na­tion­ally.

“My fo­cus is on sup­port­ing peo­ple through this pan­demic.”

Libby Coker

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