MP silent on union spat
Rival pursues claims Labor supporters want donations back
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.”