A friend posted a link to my Facebook page yesterday, evidently from Arthur (AB) Rankin, a Victorian Liberal party member, in response to last November’s electoral win. Over nine pages of “commentary,” Mr Rankin explains why, despite “a great team… a great Leader and Premier… a great group of Ministers, a great set of policies,” “Managing the Budget responsibly and [being] on track to Achieving Financial Surpluses” they lost the election.

The TL; DR answer is teh unions (courtesy of VTH)

The TL; DR answer is teh unions (photo/caption courtesy of VTH)

It’s certainly an interesting, if long, read – in addition to the nine pages of commentary, Mr Rankin’s document includes a suppleemtary 30 pages of photos, reprints of Trades Hall material, a tweet by Billy Bragg, a couple of emails, and a four-page addenda.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that I supported and participated in the campaign…
Image by VTH, caption via Mr Rankin's commentary (that's me, uncharacteristically on the right)

Image by VTH, caption via Mr Rankin’s commentary (that’s me, uncharacteristically on the right)

Mr Rankin’s creation really does need to be read to be fully appreciated, and I know writing is almost certainly just procrastination, but one of my many weaknesses is an inability to let things drop. And while I don’t think Mr Rankin himself is so much worth responding to, it really annoyed me to hear several of the accusations made here also made by Liberal MP’s and staffers during the campaign. It made me angry then, and it turns out I’m still a little pissed.

There are three aspects I want to address. The first is the claim that campaigners were paid; the second that people impersonated nurses, midwives, teachers, fire fighters and paramedics; and the third is about unfunded hospital beds. I also have a word or two for the Liberal party.

So, a couple of points, based on my experience with the campaign.

Were campaigners paid?
I can’t speak for the staff at Trades Hall, but every other person I spoke with at each door knocking, phone banking and polling station was volunteering their time. Or were we?
– the nights I did phone banking I ate up to 3 slices of Pizza Hut pizza, on occasion washed down with soft drink, which I believe constitutes payment under Mr Abbott’s proposed workplace legislation
– I did have salad and a couple of dips at Trades Hall on election night, after several hours at a polling booth, which I suppose could be constituted as being paid
– after volunteering over 20 hours I was given/paid with a black “we are union” t-shirt
– I was given a lovely “we are union” hoodie for being the most retweeted tweeter at a pre-election rally
So I suppose I may have to concede that point, though I didn’t receive payment in any form that a bank or business would accept.

Were nurses, midwives, fire fighters and paramedics ‘ring ins’?
I can only go with my experience, which was limited to maybe a dozen phone bank sessions, a couple of door knocks, some media sessions, and an afternoon a a polling booth. In that time I had conversations with maybe fifty other volunteers, each of whom spoke about their professions in ways that seemed coherent and genuine to me.
A couple of fire fighters did mention that they weren’t allowed to wear their official uniforms off duty, so they wore modified versions.
However, in the same way I’m pretty sure my nursiness is unrelated to what I’m wearing (my workplace doesn’t even have a mandatory uniform), so to do fire fighters not stop being firies if wearing something that’s identifiably fire fight-y but not official.

Mr Rankin makes a lot of the 800 promised hospital beds, without actually acknowledging either that former Premier Baillieu promised them, or that the former Liberal government failed to deliver them.
Instead, he focuses on the fact that a sign at a polling station didn’t specify that they were hospital beds, but instead lead observers into thinking they were hospital beds because of the young nurse on the signs. Though the reference actually is to undelivered beds.

In support, Mr Rankin also cites a conversation he had on election day with a nurse who ‘revealed’ that the hospital bed she was posing beside wasn’t from an actual hospital, but from Trades Hall. A truly shocking revelation, that nobody actually stole a hospital bed that should be in use.
In any case, as I’ve discussed previously, “beds” is really short hand for “nurses/midwives to care for patients in beds” – we have the nurses and midwives (indeed, every year hundreds of graduate nurses are unable to find supported graduate nurse places, just in this state alone), we just don’t have the funding for them.
On reflection, the thing I’m most irritated by is the Liberal party’s persistent insistence on attributing electoral failure on union activism, a) as though the voice of the workers being heard is a bad thing, but the influence of employers, our most wealthy, and the IPA, is wholly appropriate, and b) without any acknowledgement that the problem may in any way be related to inhumane policies, an utter unwillingness to consider the long-term best interests and welfare of the state as a whole, and he lies of the Federal branch of the party.