Union campaign talks to poll workers



But in recent meetings, a well-informed Labor source said the discussion was about the upcoming election campaign. Election officials were told during working hours that Labor Volunteers would support the re-election of MPs, and were offered a detailed account of how the PLA headquarters would campaign over the next three months to ensure the Andrews government a third term. Field organizers also reviewed campaign plans with election office staff.

A leaked Labor Party document, seen by ageis titled “FO [field organisers] guide: Victorian Election Field Program”. He says the organizers of the fieldwork “will sit down with the MPs and the EO [electorate office] staff members,” attend branch meetings and meet former volunteers.

The document also lays out a core strategy that will be at the heart of the party’s 2022 campaign to “mobilise Labor supporters in their region to do their part to re-elect an Andrews Labor Government on November 26, 2022”.

“Victoria’s election planning strategy is designed to build a broad base of activists organized into local community action networks, led by volunteer leaders, and mobilized for targeted community outreach activities. voters in the final weeks of the Victorian state election,” according to the document. .

age confirmed that since the working hours meetings took place, MPs and Labor headquarters have advised campaigners that future weekly make-up meetings should take place after 5pm.

Center for Public Integrity research director Dr Catherine Williams said the IBAC ombudsman and commissioner were unequivocal in the recent Operation Watts report on branch piling, which condemned political parties for embezzling public funds for campaigning, including the salaries of paid election office staff. .

A Labor supporter wears the ‘red shirt’ for Daniel Andrews’ election in 2014.Credit:Scott Barbour

“It is very difficult to see how meetings on an election campaign could be construed as anything other than activity for the overriding purpose of promoting the election of a candidate or the Labor Party more broadly,” Williams said. “These allegations, if true, underscore precisely why the reforms our watchdog agencies have been calling for must be urgently advanced.”

However, Monash University politics professor Dr Zareh Ghazarian said the latest controversy has highlighted the problem of prohibiting election workers, who are inherently political and interested in getting their member re-elected, from doing any campaign work.


“Election officials are only there to support voters and local MPs in carrying out their local duties. This raises questions as to how there can be this clean break between the organizational wings of parties and elected officials, and those who are employed as election workers with taxpayers’ money,” Ghazarian said.

However, he said the revelations did not reflect politicians well.

The news comes just a month after the government pilloried opposition leader Matthew Guy following reports in age Guy’s former chief of staff, Mitch Catlin, has asked liberal billionaire donor Jonathan Munz to pay more than $100,000 in payments to his private marketing firm, on top of his taxpayer-funded salary.

In the Red Shirt rort, Labor hired casual election workers to campaign for the party in marginal seats. The party paid 60% of their salaries and 40% came from the taxpayer-funded election office budget. Many told ombudsman Deborah Glass that they were expected to do mostly campaign-related work. At the time, Glass described the project as “artificial” and “fake”.


The Operation Watts report denounced Labor culture and a “legislative framework which provides few, if any, consequences for the abuse of public resources… Despite the 2019 amendments after the Red Shirts report, Victoria is now a laggard rather than a leader in parliamentary integrity.”

The two-year joint investigation focused on the behavior of former labor ministers Adem Somyurek and Marlene Kairouz who misused their staff’s time for factional activities such as branch stacking.

“The Ombudsman’s ‘Red Shirts’ report highlighted the need for reform in 2018 – both to prevent the use of public funds for partisan political purposes and to empower an independent agency to investigate when allegations are made. done. The response has been lukewarm, and this report highlights how little has changed.

Last month, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews pledged to implement all 21 recommendations of the Operation Watts report, including a review of the code of conduct for election officials to “specifically prohibit party-specific work from being undertaken at during the employment of an election official”.

Another recommendation was to require the Department of Parliamentary Services to revise the job description of new election officials by including “an explicit statement prohibiting the successful candidate from engaging in party-specific activities.”

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