Australia Palaszczuk ministers sledge nurses group as ‘fake union, anti-vax campaign'
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Two Palaszczuk government ministers have accused an alternative workers' association of doing the "dirty work of anti-vaxxers" and running an "LNP-sponsored anti-vaccination campaign".
In an extraordinary spray under parliamentary privilege during question time in State Parliament, the pair took aim at the Nurses' Professional Association of Queensland and its umbrella organisation, the Red Union Support Hub.
Several of its leaders had previously held positions within the LNP or been members of the party.
Speaking in Parliament, Treasurer Cameron Dick accused the NPAQ of being a "fake union".
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"It is beyond disappointing to see organisations that pretend to represent workers doing the dirty work of anti-vaxxers - and that includes the Nurses' Professional Association of Queensland," he said.
"The unelected officials of this union are running an LNP front ... Those unelected officials, Speaker, are nothing more than cheap swindlers and grifters."
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said she had "never seen a faker union" than the NPAQ, also speaking in Parliament.
Earlier this year, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission found the NPAQ was not an industrial association or a trade union under state law. The ruling was being appealed.
Ms Grace listed the names of several people associated with the association who she said had previous links with the LNP.
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"They [the NPAQ] are recruiting workers by exploiting anti-vaccination fears and aided and abetted by all of those opposite [in the LNP]," she said.
"The interesting thing about this organisation grandstanding on anti-vaccination propaganda, hiding their political connections, a cowardly act, and this amounts to nothing more than an LNP-sponsored anti-vaccination campaign.
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"The leader of the opposition should show some backbone.
"He should come out, tell his members not to support NPAQ, come out, support vaccination and not supporting these fake organisations, an LNP cover-up, an LNP campaign, anti-vaxxer organisation accountable to no one, show some leadership."
Ms Grace claimed there had been "almost deafening sounds from those opposite, supporting the vaccination rollout".
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LNP leader David Crisafulli has in the past called for more places for Queenslanders to get vaccinated and for an urgent strategy to improve slow vaccination numbers.
Mr Crisafulli was fully vaccinated in July.
Red Union director Jack McGuire criticised Mr Dick and Ms Grace's use of parliamentary privilege, under which politicians can speak freely without being sued for defamation.
"I'd invite them to say that outside the coward's castle," he said, speaking directly to Brisbane Times.
Mr McGuire said it was disappointing the association was characterised as "anti-vaxxers".
"Nothing could be further from the truth because the vast majority of our members are vaccinated," he said, adding members had genuine concerns about workplace health and safety and wanted to be consulted by employers.
"What's fake about a union fighting for their members?
"We take the controversial view that if someone pays their dues, we will help advance their workplace rights."
Mr McGuire said Red Union constitutions prohibited the associations from supporting any political party.
"People can have different political opinions and we do in our office," he said.
Mr Crisafulli's office was contacted for comment.
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