Emotions high at DV barbie
Roberts, men’s group label union members as ‘thugs’ after gathering heads south
THE UNION representative at the receiving end of a verbal tirade from a One Nation supporter has hit back.
Electrical Trades Union organiser Stuart Traill led a small group who attended a domestic violence fundraising barbecue hosted by One Nation Ipswich candidate Malcolm Roberts at Queen’s Park on Saturday.
Despite what amounted to a union and media ambush of the event, Mr Traill said union members were invited into the gathering by a member of advocacy group Australian Brotherhood of Fathers, to “have a sausage”.
But things turned sour quickly as members of the media and the ETU and Queensland Council of Unions persistently asked questions regarding Mr Roberts’ stance on issues ranging from domestic violence to weekend penalty rates.
While Mr Roberts calmly refused to answer the barrage of political questions that came his way, not all of his supporters managed to maintain the same level of composure.
As the QT filmed the event, a One Nation supporter could be seen on camera calling Mr Traill a pedophile several times, eventually yelling it into Mr Traill’s face.
“I asked Mr Roberts what he had to say to Ipswich workers who were worse off because of his vote to abolish penalty rates during his time as a Senator,” Mr Traill said.
“A bloke started abusing me and calling me a pedophile.”
Mr Trail could be heard responding: “You see, that’s what you get with One Nation.”
He repeated those words on Monday when asked about the event.
Despite Mr Roberts’ insistence that the event was “non-political” in nature, Mr Traill defended his union’s right to be there to direct some uncomfortable questions at the Ipswich candidate.
“He is running from the media and doesn’t want scrutiny of his campaign or of his record of voting in the Senate,” Mr Traill said.
Mr Roberts, who spent Monday morning handing out how-to-vote cards to pre-pollers outside the Hayden Centre, said the union bosses were to blame for the event getting out of hand.
Mr Roberts said the event was intended as a community barbecue aimed at ending domestic violence, and it was strictly not a political event.
“It was gate crashed by some union bosses who wanted to control it and some others who just wanted to crash it,” Mr Roberts said.
“Our position is that they wanted to tarnish (an event) about ending domestic violence and make it politicised and we weren’t up for that. The second thing is, Ipswich City Council made it very clear to us you don’t hold political rallies in council grounds so we could not discuss politics, and we wouldn’t.
“The union bosses and others tried to politicise it, and we were having nothing to do with it.”
Australian Brotherhood of Fathers representative Leith Erikson took to Facebook to vent his anger at the ETU, who he had invited into the event when they arrived at the park on Saturday.
In a video post, Mr Erikson said women and children felt intimidated by the union presence.
He described the ETU as “thugs”.
“I can’t believe how naive I was to offer these men food and drink as the barbecue started, not understanding that they were there to harass and intimidate the people of Ipswich, our volunteers and the women and children at the event,” he said.
“As soon as Malcolm Roberts showed up they surrounded our marquee and made it very clear that they were just there to make a media statement. I think it’s just absolutely disgraceful.”
LETTING RIP: ETU organiser Stuart Traill (left) clashes with a One Nation supporter at Queen’s Park, Ipswich on Saturday.