28 October 2015

Free Trade Debate Claims Dishonest: Letter to Colac Herald

I write to correct a range of claims made by the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Ged Kearney, and ACTU national secretary Dave Oliver.

Last Monday night the ACTU organised what turned out to be a phony debate on the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) in Geelong.

After indicating on October 16 that I was not able to attend, the union arranged for flyers to be distributed throughout the Corangamite electorate, including to many union members, stating I would be debating Michele O’Niel, from the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union. The ACTU did not even have the decency to tell its own members the truth.

Anticipating this was intended to be nothing more than a stunt to disparage me, on October 22 I published an open letter asking the ACTU to desist from this campaign.

The day after the debate, Corangamite residents were bombarded with prerecorded ‘robocalls’ from the union suggesting that I had failed to show up for the debate. The ACTU used these same tactics in many other electorates across Australia.

Unions play an important role in our community. Rather than play partisan political games, union bosses should be spending their members money fighting for local jobs.

Their failure to speak out when the State Labor Government cancelled the East West Link project, destroying 7000 jobs, says it all.

After months of trying to derail ChAFTA, Labor last week agreed to vote in support of this once in a generation trade deal. ChAFTA is goo for trade, good for jobs, and will see massive benefits flow to Australia in the coming years. Union bosses need to get behind this great opportunity for our country.

28 October 2015