The Labor Party’s preferred candidate in the vulnerable seat of Mayo is taking his Commonwealth-owned employer — Adelaide shipbuilder ASC — to the Fair Work Commission because it won’t allow him leave to contest the federal election.
Glen Dallimore, a shipbuilder and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union delegate, has the ALP nomination sewn up to take on ousted Liberal frontbencher Jamie Briggs in the electorate, which takes in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula. But he and the union have been locked in a standoff with ASC for months over whether he can return to work at the government-owned shipyard after polling day if he is unsuccessful in his tilt — with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill suggesting Dallimore is the victim of a “political” stoush.
“The federal government wanted to deter Glen from exercising his democratic right to stand for parliament,” Weatherill told InDaily.
However, Liberal incumbent Briggs says he has no problem with Dallimore’s candidacy, saying it is “absurd” he should be prevented from standing. Dallimore confirmed that “essentially I can’t get the time off work… my work won’t give me four weeks [unpaid] leave to participate in the federal election”.
“Because I work for a GBE [Government Business Enterprise], there’s no precedent for this one to say whether I’m actually allowed to still be working for them while I run for the seat,” he said.
Government employees are obliged to quit their jobs to run for office, but are generally eligible to return to work afterwards. The Australian Public Service Commission guidelines hold that:
“… generally an APS employee cannot be elected to a House of Parliament or Legislative Assembly and so a candidate for such an election must resign from the APS.”
“… the Public Service Act and regulations do provide that if such a person is unsuccessful in that election (and they meet the other tests prescribed in the legislation) they may be re-engaged in the APS.”
However, Dallimore says ASC — which has been at the centre of intense speculation over the future of lucrative contracts including the Offshore Patrol Vessels, Future Frigates and next-generation submarines — is “playing cautious”.
“We’re getting treated like government employees, but without the perks… they won’t allow me to have the time off [to contest Mayo],” he said.
“From what I’ve been told the Labor Party’s keen, the Mayo FEC [Federal Election Committee] has accepted my nomination and everyone’s ready to rock and roll — as far as I know, I’m the nomination … it’s just [a matter of] getting some surety about the legalities of this thing.”
The union will take the matter to the Fair Work Commission for arbitration in a last ditch effort to resolve the impasse, with all parties already in campaign mode ahead of a double dissolution election already slated for July 2.
“We’ll sit down in there and produce our arguments … I guess we’re hoping we can put our argument forward, and people can see sense and say ‘give me a go’.”