The recent Tasmanian election saw the Gutwein Liberal Government returned with a one-seat majority.
It was disappointing result for the Labor Party, but unsurprising given the damaging internal brawl over preselections at the start of the campaign.
The RTBU was also disappointed by Labor’s public transport policy.
Following the election loss, Tasmanian Labor Leader Rebecca White resigned, sparking a ballot to determine her replacement. Two MPs nominated for the ballot: Franklin MP David O’Byrne and Braddon MP Shane Broad.
As an affiliated union, the RTBU was entitled to two votes in the Conference Delegates section of the ballot (worth 50%), while RTBU members who were also party members were entitled to vote in the rank & file section of the ballot (also worth 50%).
Before deciding on how to allocate the RTBU’s votes, the Tasmanian Branch Executive wrote an open letter to the two candidates, and invited them to meet with the RTBU representatives to discuss their plans for the future, and our concerns about the Labor’s election performance.
Tasmanian Branch Secretary Ric Bean didn’t pull any punches in the open letter – which was received coverage in the local and national media.
“Our members were not consulted in the development of Labor’s transport policies,” Ric wrote.
“The failure to engage public transport workers was evident in the quality of the public transport policy that Labor took to the election.
“Most disappointing was Labor’s failure to allocate a single cent to expanding bus services - compared to the Liberals’ commitment of an additional $60 million.”
The letter had an impact, and both candidates subsequently met with members of the Branch Executive to give their leadership pitch.
“It was very useful exercise, and we certainly got a few things off our chest,” Ric said.
“But I was very impressed with both Shane and David. It was clear that both of them want to build a engage RTBU members, and want to make sure the nonsense that went on before this year’s election doesn’t happen again.”
After winning the ballot to become Opposition Leader, David O’Byrne has since stood aside pending an investigation into his behaviour toward a female union employee around ten years ago. Rebecca White has now returned to the position of Opposition Leader, with Shane Broad as Shadow Treasurer.
In the meantime, the Tasmanian Branch has scheduled a meeting with the new Shadow Transport Minister Josh Willie MLC to discuss the need for more investment in public transport and rail. It’s vital that our industries and RTBU members have an effective voice in the Tasmanian parliament, and we will continue to working to engage with all sides of politics.