Support for pollies normal, says MP
UNION CLAMS UP ON POLL FUNDS
I’ve got no problem with it but it should be done honestly and open to scrutiny. It’s being done anyway and has been done for many years.
If everything is disclosed including the amount of member funds contributed, then happy days. The issue comes … when the actual dollar amounts are hidden and members get no say. UNITED Voice has refused to reveal how many Labor candidates were put on the union’s payroll in the lead- up to this year’s state election.
The Queensland Opposition is calling on Labor MPs to come clean after the Bulletin revealed United Voice paid Mundingburra MP Coralee O’Rourke’s living expenses in the two months leading up to the January 31 poll.
The union, which represents some of the lowest- paid workers in Queensland, yesterday refused to rule out whether it had similar arrangements with other candidates.
At the time, Mrs O’Rourke ( left) was still employed as director of Amaroo Early Childhood Centre and had taken unpaid leave from that position.
Mrs O’Rourke said she was employed by United Voice in December last year as a “campaign or- ganiser”, despite already having two organisers overseeing her election campaign.
Shadow attorney- general Ian Walker said Labor had 41 other MPs who were also union members and they should reveal if unions backed them financially as well.
“Labor has to answer the questions: what do they owe the unions, what other Labor members were on this sweetheart deal that Coralee O’Rourke was on, who else is being supported with union members’ funds?” Mr Walker said.
Mr Walker acknowledged the historic link between Labor and the unions but said using members’ fees to fund candidates’ living expenses was crossing the line.
United Voice state secretary Gary Bullock earlier this year boasted how his union “supported” seven successful Labor candidates, calling them “United Voice MPs”.
Mr Bullock was also chief negotiator for Labor’s Left fac-
Of course not. Member funds should be for members. tion in discussions on ministerial appointments, which saw Mrs O’Rourke enter Cabinet as Minister for Disability Services and Seniors.
Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper, who was also backed by United Voice and shared two of its staff with Mrs O’Rourke during the campaign, said he was not paid personally by the union, however he backed Mrs O’Rourke’s decision to take the union’s money.
“I support Coralee’s comments and stance on that. It’s entirely normal for unions to support candidates in their roles,” Mr Harper said.
A spokeswoman for Mrs O’Rourke said the union’s payments would be declared to the Electoral Commission of Queensland.
Mrs O’Rourke’s opponent at the election, former local government minister David Crisafulli, said he didn’t want to comment on the matter to “show a bit of class”.
“The local member has to show a bit of class and grace and justify her actions not to me, but the community,” Mr Crisafulli said.
ALP state secretary Evan Moorhead said the party disclosed all contributions in accordance with electoral laws and only accept donations as permitted by law.
It depends on which union and for what purpose. They are governed by a foreign body, and it’s not up to political parties about how and when it should be used.
David Kippin, Idalia: Clayton Cook, South Townsville:
Pat Lynch, Townsville City:
Lyndsey Ward, Cranbrook:
How the Bulletin revealed the union pay deal yesterday.