Standing up to bullies is the hallmark of a civilized society. – Robert Reich
If ever a sitting member from one of the major political parties wants to find out who their real friends are, resigning from their party is a sure-fire way to get an answer.
When I resigned from the ALP, while a few loyal friends stayed with me, most party be members did not. I was the subject of anger and vitriol from many quarters, but nowhere was I more surprised to receive such hatred and horrible attacks, as from my former comrades at the Electricity Trade Union (ETU).
While I remained a passionate supporter of the union movement (unlike several members in the ALP party room) standing up to bullies was the only way I knew, so I delivered the following speech in the house:
Electrical Trades Union – Bullies on the Block
Mr PYNE (Cairns—Ind) (10.15 am): Over recent months I have seen the very worst side of an organisation I once worked closely with, the ETU. Prior to the 2015 election, the ETU ran the `not for sale’ campaign. That campaign supported me on the basis that I would not vote to sell public assets. I never have, and never would, vote to sell public assets. Having remained true to those values, I remain absolutely mystified as to why the ETU has devoted so much time and members’ resources to a concerted and current campaign of hatred and vilification against me, my family and my staff.
Some brief facts on the moral high ground of all the players are: firstly, the ETU campaigned against the ALP Bligh government. I have never campaigned against an ALP government facing election—yet. Secondly, the ALP Bligh government sold public assets. I would never vote to sell public assets. Thirdly, when Stuart Traill was kicked out of the ALP, I supported him as a mate. When I resigned from the ALP, Stuart Traill attacked and vilified me. The ALP even expelled state secretary Peter Simpson for his stance on asset sales. I table these relevant papers.
The ETU has subjected my family, my staff and myself to appalling treatment, including the following comments on the ETU page. From Peter Simpson, `Rob is a compulsive liar, a rat and a megalomaniac, end of story’. Other comments include, `Hope he gets run over by a bus,’ `Pyne makes RATSAK seem like a better option,’ `Can you put someone in a wheelchair twice? Hang this grub for treason,’ and, `Time for rule 303 to be applied.’ This was accompanied by pictures of a rat in a wheelchair and an empty wheelchair. People can read it for themselves. I tabled a picture of a new ETU T-shirt printed especially for this weekend. It is printed, `When you rat on your mates it’s a Pyne in the’—expletive—with a picture of my face on a rat’s head and the ETU logo.
Let there be no doubt there are strong links between the ETU and some members of this House. I refer to the members who constantly `like’ and support comments made in this hate campaign by the ETU. I ask those members just for one second to ask themselves how they would feel if they were on the receiving end, how would they feel if it were their wife in tears, how they would feel if their 18-year-old daughter was scared to leave the house. I ask electricians across Queensland how they would feel if their families were treated in this manner.
I call on Bill Shorten and Annastacia Palaszczuk to condemn the ETU’s actions and campaign of hate and vilification. Whether it is against me or against any candidate of any party at the coming federal election, these tactics, language and behaviour of the ETU must be rejected outright. It has to stop. The leadership of the Labor Party, both state and federal, must condemn the ETU’s actions today.”
I drew strength from the fact that everything I did was recorded. My speeches, Bills and most importantly, how I voted in parliament were all a matter of public record. If in the future anyone did bother researching me, they would say I have been consistent in all the things I had stood up for during my career. I had been pro-worker, pro-environment, anti-corruption and voted for the human rights of individuals and minority groups.
The ETU can account for their behaviour. However, history will show they targeted for removal the first quadriplegic ever elected to Queensland Parliament and one of the few truly progressive MPs to sit in the 56th Parliament. The only conclusion I could draw was that the ETU had a very narrow focus on benefiting their own members and had little concern for other workers or the social justice issues of the time.
Other Reference Material and Pictures
Supporting Queensland Nurses Union on Patient to Nurses Ratios