EXCLUSIVE: CFMEU mining boss reveals why he backs Miller
JO-ANN Miller has the unequivocal backing of Andrew Vickers, the national general secretary of the mining and energy division of the CFMEU, as she gets set to win the seat of Bundamba for the eighth time for the ALP.
There is manoeuvring going on in the background in certain sections of the ALP to take Ms Miller on in pre-selection ahead of the next state election, although no-one has the courage put their name to it.
In a wide ranging interview with the QT, Mr Vickers took aim at the "Neville nobodies" behind the scenes who Ms Miller has fought off following "attack after attack".
Mr Vickers, who was born and bred in Ipswich and lives smack bang in the seat of Bundamba, said the electorate "loves her" and that Ms Miller had stayed true to her mining and working class background.
"Jo-Ann ticks all the boxes as far as the miner's union is concerned," he told the QT.
"She is the daughter of a coal miner, the daughter-in-law of a coal miner, the niece of a coal miner and the grand daughter of a coal miner.
"Fittingly the electorate is named Bundamba. That is where the mines started and where the miner's union started in Queensland, out the back of an old shop in Bundamba over 100 years ago.
"She has proven to us, and unequivocally to me, her passion for coalminers and coalmining families and communities on a whole raft of issues.
"The work she is doing now chairing the parliamentary committee inquiry into coal mine workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), or black lung, is absolutely outstanding.
"She is getting right to the bottom of what the issues are and causes are and we are very confident we will end up with a well written, well researched and well considered report to the parliament.
"Then I am confident that Jo-Ann will continue either in government or opposition ensuring the recommendations that come out of this inquiry are converted into strong legislation and that the regulator does the job it is required to do."
Ms Miller was sacked as Police Minister after an Ethics Committee report said she had engaged in a "pattern of reckless conduct" and resigned from Cabinet, but Mr Vickers said mountains had been created out of molehills since.
"The sorts of mistakes, and minor misdemeanours frankly, that got her into trouble are nonsensical in comparison to what to what the hell goes on in parliaments right across this country," he said.
"She has been harshly and badly treated by the Labor Party and by some of her parliamentary colleagues.
"She has fought off attack after attack by the party machine for her seat."
Mr Vickers said that after the state redistribution, Bundamba would "probably be the safest Labor seat on paper in Queensland" , and arguably the safest in Queensland including the conservative seats.
Ms Miller showed in Estimates hearings that she would stand up for people despite risking the party's wrath.
Mr Vickers said that to risk losing Bundamba due to back room machinations would be madness, particularly with One Nation on the prowl.
"The sort of disaffected Labor people who are liable to support One Nation over another candidate, especially one that is parachuted in, won't support One Nation over Jo-Ann Miller," he said.
"But for some reason they kick the local member out who has won seven terms?
"There is no question there are people with eyes on the seat, and that is because they want a 'yes person' in there rather than a feisty fighter for working class people, which is what Jo-Ann is.
"It is not like she is 85 and doddery. She still works her arse off in the local community to make sure they are looked after, and the local people love her because of it.
"In the process of doing so she has been known to offend the government of the day, but she doesn't give a stuff about that.
"What she wants to do is the right thing by the people who elected her.
"If we had more politicians like Jo-Ann Miller in state and federal parliament the whole country would be a lot better off, instead of some of the factional Neville nobodies who are hanging out in the Senate and the House of Representatives and in that Queensland parliament.
"Jo-Ann is my local member, so I know how good a local member she is. I live in Blackstone, one of the oldest coal mining suburbs in Ipswich, and I am loving every minute of it.
"That is why I am so passionate about it. She has done outstanding things for me and my family as a local member. There were things that were very distressing for me and my family, but she was there as a tower of strength."