Tuesday 15 March 2011

Premier Bligh didn't have the numbers to oust unionist Stuey Traill

It's all about Stuey. Or is it.

In what should be viewed as an embarrassing attempt to silence outspoken members, Anna Bligh as head of the Queensland Labor Party failed to get the number late last night to oust Stuey Traill and fellow ETU member, Peter Simpson.

Bligh's embarrassing game to remove those in the party that have spoken out against privatisation, went pear-shaped when last night's meeting failed to draw a quorum. However, it appears that the meeting of the administration committee will be called again tonight in Brisbane to rally the numbers.

Cairns union organiser Stuey Traill, along with his colleague Peter Simpson, have been staunch critics of Queensland Labor's asset sales programme, after the party and MPs voted to uphold their Party platform, rejecting such a plan. Both have been on a relentless campaign to stop the $80 billion debt-ridden State coffers selling off a raft of public assets including Queensland Rail, than now is faced with a third of it's workforce being made redundant.
  • 5.12: (2008) Labor platform
    Labor rejects a program of privatisation of public services, such as public hospitals and schools, public enterprises including subsidiary companies or utilities (in particular Rail, Ports, Public Hospitals, electricity and water) as an economic strategy.

    Privatisation of public enterprises should not be used to solve revenue problems of governments. Labor believes that it is more through improved management of the existing public sector than through privatisation that Government can provide a wide range of benefits to the community.
The high-profile Electrical Trades Union has discussed withdrawing it's Labor membership last year, and is set to vote if they should remain affiliated next month. They ceased making donations last year. Media reports wrongly tagged Stuey Traill as wanting to form a break-away party, and this claim is central to expel him from the party. However, if Simpson and Traill are ousted tonight, it is likely they will run an aggressive campaign against Labor at the next State election, most likely to be held before the end of the year. The vote would clearly split the chances of Labor retaining it's 102-year grip of the Cairns seat.

Rumours late last night said that the vote didn't get up last night because ''allies on the committee had deliberately sabotaged the meeting." They raised questions about the credentials of members of the administration committee, and then left the meeting, so the committee lacked a quorum. This fiasco shows the turmoil the party is in in Queensland.

An unattributed quote said that "it was the action of desperate people trying to delay the inevitable." This most probably came from Labor's National President and Queensland's State Secretary Bill Ludwig.

Did Bligh actually have the numbers at last night's meeting? If the decision was made and the deal was done to terminate Stuey Traill and Peter Simpson, and it was just a rubber stamp, as was said just a few days ago, it would have gone ahead. Bligh won't bow to the unions who helped elect her at the last two elections. However Simpson and Traill's power is best exerted from within the party that needs to change. There is so many members that are started to grow a voice when they see the likes of Stuey stand up and shout.

Premier Anna Bligh called for Simpson and Traill to resign late last year because they were in breach of party rules when they threatened an idea of supporting rival candidates.

My story yesterday on CairnsBlog alarmed Mike Bailey, the vice president of the ALP's Cairns Branch. Bailey sent me a strong rebuttal about the plan to remove Stuey Traill as a member, in a letter that said more about his disgust for those that speak out and uphold the party's principals, than it did about making the party more inclusive and electable come the next election.

''As a journalist who purports to present the facts, I would have thought you would check the details of any story on CairnsBlog,'' Mike Bailey wrote.

Mike Bailey voted at last year's Labor conference for privatisation, so he is loyal to the premier and the AWU. Bailey contested a number of points in my story yesterday.

''For the record, yesterday’s meeting did not take a vote if Traill should remain,'' Mike Bailey says. ''I challenged Traill as soon as he walked into the room and advised him that under the following rule:
  • …(V) recommend to the Administrative Committee that the respondent be expelled (and in which case the person or persons shall be immediately suspended from membership until the next meeting of the Administrative Committee);
...''he [Traill] was suspended and as such, he could not attend the meeting. This had nothing to do with factions and everything to do with Party Rules and I applied the rules accordingly,'' Bailey said. ''For you to run the Traill side of the story without getting the facts is unfortunate to say the least.''
''I am not a member of the Australian Workers Union, but I am a member of the Queensland Public Sector Union. I am a financial member of what is known as Labor Forum or what is more commonly called the Right of the Labor Party. The AWU is also part of Labor Forum but do not direct me or anyone else in the group,'' Mike Bailey says.
''To paint me as Bill Ludwig’s stooge is grossly unfair. How I can be painted as Bill Ludwig’s stooge when I do not talk to or see Bill Ludwig except at the party’s yearly State Conference? I do not take direction from him or anyone else. I do however take advice from the State Secretary.''
I suggested in yesterday's story that Baily, who was branch president, stepped aside to allow Tim Grau to take over the role, who is widely expected to be the new Labor candidate for Cairns,

''I chose to retire as president of the Cairns Branch of the ALP at the AGM last year,'' Bailey said. ''At the same time my wife retired as branch secretary, after almost 16 years in the chair, for family reasons which had nothing to do with Tim Grua [sic. Mike appear not to know the spelling of his successor!] although I was pleased there was such an able person to fill the role.''
Mike Bailey says that Traill’s membership is not current, a claim Stuey Traill disputes vehemently.

''Under the rules (shown above), he was immediately suspended when the matter was voted on by the Administrative Committee, which was unanimous and included an Electrical Trades Union member, to referred the matter to the party’s Disputes Tribunal,'' Mike Bailey said. ''As a suspended member, he has no rights whatsoever in the party.''
Bailey puts the successful motion on Sunday meeting in Cairns down to ''Traill’s factional buddies'' who attended the meeting and pushed through a motion of support. A motion was passed and sent to the State Secretary Anthony Chisholm for consideration prior to last night's administration meeting.

''I believe this motion of support will not make any difference to the outcome of tonight’s meeting as Traill’s disloyalty is of such a level that cannot and will not be ignored by the Administrative Committee who I believe will take the most appropriate action,'' Mike Bailey said yesterday. ''When it is ruled on, Traill’s expulsion should serve a reminder to all members that the behaviour displayed by Traill is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.''

This of course proved to be wrong. One of those in last night's meeting in Brisbane told CairnsBlog that ''they fucked up, but they won't fuck up twice in a row.''

''They will get the knives out again tonight, subject to getting everyone together,'' the rebel party member said. ''Even though there's a ground-swell of support for those that stand up for the principals, there's also the politicians and hangers-on who've taken over the running of the party. There's people in there that shouldn't be there - bloody partners and wives of politicians, and all that sort of stuff, that are running the party, that's where it's all fallen down.''

Unions of course used to have a great say within Labor, but no more. It is not a party of the people, and the recent Party review showed that there was serious disconnect from the membership and the branch structure.

''The Parliamentary ring is running the whole shooting match,'' the Labor source told CairnsBlog.
''Just like any club or organisation that has rogue members who display gross disloyalty and act contrary to the objectives and principals of the organisation, they have to be weeded out through that organisation’ rules and regulations,'' Labor's Cairns vice president Mike Bailey said. ''Traill is no different.''

1 comment:

Vaughn said...

We all thought that Joh's government was arrogant and corrupt, and we were right. This mob make them look like angels. They have damaged the Labor Party beyond repair.

Mike Bailey is a member of the QPSU, who along with the AWU, continue to support Bligh's disgraceful asset selloff, despite what their own membership think about it.