Sup­port for pol­lies nor­mal, says MP

UNION CLAMS UP ON POLL FUNDS

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY an­thony. gal­loway@ news. com. au

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.

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