In the same mail, ballot papers arrived from the Australian Electoral Office for the union election. I am one of four candidates for three Federal Vice Presidents, the other three being hand picked. Alas, I threw my hat into the ring and a ballot was needed. Head office orchestrated a campaign against me.
The postie has yet to deliver my pamphlet telling me not to vote for myself but if it doesn’t turn up today (April 26), it means head office has deliberately cut the Tasmania Branch adrift. I’ve been sent copies of course, by some outraged mainland scribes. The covering letter is signed by Christopher Warren, as Federal Secretary, and Ruth Pollard, from The Sydney Morning Herald, as Federal President AJA section.
The leaflet also urges members to vote for 24 out of 25 candidates for media delegates to the Federal Council. That’s right, someone slipped in under the radar. And guess what? The hierarchy doesn’t want this sod, Mark Phillips, a senior journalist in the Melbourne bureau of the Australian Financial Review. It has a whiff of Stalin’s Russia …
elections held for 24 faceless men for 24 positions on the Politburo, to give a semblance of democracy.
The signatories include Assistant Federal Secretary Mark Ryan, ACT Branch secretary Michael White, ACT Branch president Don Cumming, WA Branch Secretary Michael Sinclair-Jones, NSW Branch secretary Richard Harris, Queensland Branch secretary David Waters, Victoria Branch secretary Louise Connor, SA Branch secretary Angelique Ivanica and outgoing Federal Vice President Claire Miller.
That’s right, a sweep around the nation — excepting Tasmania of course, which has been dropped from the map. (It doesn’t include the Federal President, Patricia Amphlett — Little Patti. I just hope she refused to sign this shonky document.)
Apart from Christopher Warren and Ruth Pollard, there are 37 signatories, mainly from the print media. They include Samela Harris from The Adelaide Advertiser, Ray Cassin from The Age, Vickie Laurie from The Australian, Peta Rule from The West Australian, Stuart Washington from The Sydney Morning Herald, Seamus Bradley from The Sunday Age and Murray McLaughlin from ABC News Darwin. I could go on.
Goodness! Am I such a threat? If only I’d known before!
In small print, the pamphlet says: “This leaflet is paid for by the friends and supporters of the journalist team standing for federal council.” Sound like the Exclusive Bruvvers and Sistahs? Okay, so they paid for the leaflet. But who paid the exorbitant postage bill? This shady group? Or the Alliance?
It must have been a nasty shock when the AEC sent out letters on April 4, that there were four candidates for three Vice Presidents. Worse still, in the draw for positions on the ballot paper, I got the top slot.
Under ‘How to Vote’ the leaflet begins by eliminating me. It drops any reference to me as a freelance journalist based in Hobart, while detailing the professions of the other three candidates. (Two are actors, one a journalist, the latter, moreover, who didn’t bother to include a candidate statement for the ballot papers, but then, she was considered a shoe-in). It would have been so much easier if I hadn’t been on the top, then it could have gone 1,2,3,4 down the list without making it so bleeding obvious that I was for the chop.
Mark Phillips is standing for the Federal Council, and like mine, his name virtually rubbed out, with photos of some of the other candidates down the side. His reaction? “I was a bit surprised to find a letter in my mail from the Federal Secretary telling people not to vote for me and my name left off the list,” he said.
“No-one contacted me to find out why I was running or to discuss my candidacy, so it was a bit of a shock. It’s an odd way to treat someone after you voluntarily sacrifice your nights and weekends, and stick your head up in the workplace as a unionist.
“As a former Victorian Branch councillor, I thought it would be a natural progression to nominate for the federal body to continue representing rank and file Victorian members now the Branch Council has been abolished. I didn’t think I had to ask for anyone’s permission.
“I find this kind of political intervention in the democratic process to be disturbing, and I’ll probably be emailing as many members as I can to ask them to vote with an open mind.”
No-one contacted me either and there is no explanation in the leaflet of why I am considered a pariah. What’s more, the leaflet was prepared before the ballot papers went out so the signatories couldn’t have read candidates’ statements.
I can only assume that I am viewed as the wicked witch from Tasmania by the union hierarchy, which is determined to ground my broomstick.
Funny that. I’ve been a union member for more years than I care to remember, rejected an AWA when working at News Ltd’s Mercury in Hobart, long urged people to join the union, and for the past two years, have been Tasmania Branch president.
The Alliance has rightly voiced concern about the new media ownership laws and the dangers of fewer voices, so it’s a bit surprising the hierarchy wants to stifle independent thought in the ranks. Or maybe not. That’s what cabals always do. And when Tasmania Branch president, I refused to be rolled, fighting off Christopher Warren’s attempts to shut us up — or down.
I had heard on the grapevine that the Alliance was going to endorse the other three candidates for vice presidents, and emailed Christopher Warren last week, asking him how the decision was made and who made it. Bearing in mind that the leaflet was ready for postage on Monday April 23, this was his response, on Friday April 20:
“In relation to the election for federal vice-president: Ballot papers are being circulated next week. The Alliance has not — cannot — endorse any candidates. I know some officers have indicated their preference as individuals, which is their right as members of the union.
However, there will be no official communication to members about any candidates beyond that circulated by the Australian Electoral Commission.”
Funny, isn’t it, that he knows some officers will indicate their preferences? Given that he had already signed the leaflet — effectively an Alliance ticket — if not written it.
SUCH is the horror of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance hierarchy at the thought of a democratic election, a staggering $10,000 has been spent to stop me from being elected as a Federal Vice President. Unbelievable as it sounds, posties around Australia and in New Zealand began delivering a leaflet to 16,361 Alliance members on Tuesday (April 24), from our Federal Secretary Christopher Warren, telling them not to vote for me.