Unions min­ing mem­bers’ data to oust Lib­er­als

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - MATTHEW DENHOLM TAS­MA­NIA COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Tas­ma­nia’s peak union body is us­ing mem­bers’ per­sonal data to as­sist elec­tion­eer­ing as part of an anti-Lib­eral state elec­tion cam­paign that also in­cludes or­ches­trated “stunts” and me­dia ma­nip­u­la­tion.

Unions Tas­ma­nia’s “up­dated cam­paign plan” and an email from sec­re­tary Jes­sica Mun­day, sent to unions on Tues­day, have been leaked to The Week­end Aus­tralian. They show unions have sup­plied mem­ber­ship data to guide elec­tion­eer­ing phone calls.

In the email, Ms Mun­day refers to “phone banks” and “call­outs” to mem­bers start­ing this week. “Thank you to those unions who have pro­vided their mem­ber data and have agreed to call their mem­bers to ask them to leave the Lib­er­als off their bal­lot pa­per on March 3,” Ms Mun­day says.

A de­tailed elec­tion strat­egy, com­plete with a grid show­ing daily ac­tiv­i­ties, sug­gests the calls started on Wed­nes­day and are be­ing made to union mem­bers af­ter they fin­ish work, between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

Some of the call-out ses­sions are or­gan­ised by UT and oth­ers by the Mar­itime Union of Aus­tralia, while notes sug­gest peo­ple may be be­ing tar­geted on the ba­sis of them be­ing judged “per­suad­able”.

Tas­ma­nia’s Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion Act 2004 states groups hold­ing such data “must not use or dis­close per­sonal in­for­ma­tion about an in­di­vid­ual for a pur­pose other than the pur­pose for which it was col­lected”. There are ex­emp­tions, in­clud­ing where peo­ple have con­sented for their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to be used for other pur­poses. It is un­clear whether union mem­bers gave such con­sent.

Ms Mun­day’s email says unions that have not pro­vided their mem­ber data can still take part. “If you haven’t pro­vided your mem­ber data but want to make calls, you are wel­come to come to the UT phone banks or di­rect any keen vol­un­teers to us,” she says.

Yes­ter­day, Ms Mun­day de­fended the strat­egy.

“We are com­mit­ted to cam­paign­ing legally, us­ing meth­ods em­ployed by both sec­tor and in­dus­try or­gan­i­sa­tions and po­lit­i­cal par­ties, main­stream and in­de­pen­dent,” she said. “We do this by talk­ing di­rectly to the pub­lic — in per­son, on the phone and through so­cial me­dia — all of which are usual meth­ods of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in a cam­paign.”

The cam­paign also in­volves seven unions pro­vid­ing peo­ple to door­knock and let­ter­box against the in­cum­bent Lib­er­als.

It spec­i­fies “twice daily (be­fore noon, be­fore 5pm)” Face­book posts, and daily Twit­ter up­dates us­ing spec­i­fied hash­tags.

Ac­tivist groups are in­cluded in ac­tions in city cen­tres and at lo­cal mar­kets, with “stunts” sched­uled at least four times a week.

“Stunts are only in­dica­tive and are sub­ject to fi­nalised mes­sag­ing,” the plan states, while list­ing one at a hos­pi­tal on Fe­bru­ary 22, and an un­spec­i­fied stunt by the Elec­tri­cal Trades Union on Fe­bru­ary 28.

Lib­eral cam­paign spokesman Michael Fer­gu­son said the strat­egy “should put to bed once and for all (union) claims to some­how be non­par­ti­san play­ers”.

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