Branch president Peter O'Sullivan.
Branch president Peter O'Sullivan. The Gladstone Observer

Documents are real eye-openers

THREE Gladstone region Labor Party stalwarts have been named as voting in favour of the plan to sell off state-owned assets.

The Observer has been handed a document that showed votes cast by all delegates at the Queensland ALP state conference in June.

Five delegates from this region - three from the Gladstone branch and two from the Port Curtis Hinterland branch - attended the conference.

The three Gladstone branch delegates (two were represented by proxies) all voted “yes” on the question of the sale of public assets.

The names of the three Gladstone branch delegates that appear on the conference document are Tony Beers, Liz Zussino and Jason Buckingham.

At the conference Mrs Zussino was represented by Wallace Ingra as her proxy and Mr Buckingham by Tony Lawrence.

The delegates from the Port Curtis branch were Donna Webster, who was at the conference, and Craig Giddins whose proxy was Ian Blackwood. They voted “no”.

The delegates cast their votes on the resolution which, in part, read: “This conference further recognises that the global recession is causing unprecedented hardship, unemployment and loss of state revenue. The conference endorses the State Government's priorities of jobs and infrastructure”.

The day following the vote, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh welcomed support for the resolution.

She told the media: “The Party clearly expressed its view that they would prefer to see these assets stay in public ownership, but I am very grateful that they have accepted the harsh economic reality the government faces and how important it is that we make the tough decisions for Queensland”.

However, the decision has angered a number of unions throughout the state.

Electrical Trade Union (ETU) spokesman Peter Simpson said there was no doubt “everyone on the floor of the conference knew that the resolution put forward by the right was a resolution to give the green light to privatisation, regardless of how it was it worded”.

“I mentioned that in my speech that despite the innocuous wording the resolution on the floor was exactly that and would be spun by the government to sell the farm,” he said.

In Gladstone, protests over the sales have been led by the ETU, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union and the Australia Metal Workers Union.

Mr Giddins, who is also the state organiser for the ETU, said it was disappointing that some Gladstone delegates had voted for the sale of public assets.

Mr Giddins took issue with comments “being put in the public arena by some who claim to oppose asset sales in public but vote for the sales behind closed doors”.

Mr Beers, who is also the Australian Workers Union organiser, in The Observer on July 11, described the sale of the assets as short-sighted and idiocy.

Mr Giddins said in view of Mr Beers' vote at the conference in June, these were strange comments.

He said it was disappointing that the three Gladstone branch delegates or their proxies had voted the way they did as the president of that same branch, Peter O'Sullivan, in Tuesday's Observer, had said he was opposed to the sell-off.

In the run-up to the Queensland state elections Mr O'Sullivan pledged he would oppose the sale of public assets.

When Mr Giddins was asked if it was possible those delegates voted against Mr O'Sullivan's express wishes or the feelings of the branch, he said it was unlikely.

“Issues of this importance are discussed at the local branch meeting and a consensus is acquired from the rank and file and the delegates are supposed to represent that consensus,” he said.

He said proxies were supposed to represent the person who nominated them to vote in their place.

Mr O'Sullivan said the pledge he signed was not done lightly.

“It was made by me as an individual candidate - it is not binding on the branch,” he said.

“Obviously (the delegates) went (to the conference) with the best intentions and they are responsible for the vote on the day.”

Mr O'Sullivan said if the vote was up to him, he would have followed through with his pledge.

Mrs Zussino declined to comment when contacted. “I didn't attend the conference - I have no comments to make to you, goodbye,” she said and hung up.

Mr Beers also declined to comment. Several attempts to contact Mr Buckingham at his home by phone on Wednesday were unsuccessful. Yesterday, The Observer was told Mr Buckingham would be out of town for several days.

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March against sale of assets

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