The union representing transport workers says Tasmanian Labor failed to take an adequate public transport policy to the state election and that the party needs to reform its internal culture.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union's Tasmanian branch has written to David O'Byrne and Shane Broad, the two candidates for the state Labor leadership, urging each of them to outline how they would address a perceived lack of union engagement in policy development and build "a more inclusive party".
"The [RTBU] believes the election of the next parliamentary [Labor] leader is a critical moment for Tasmanian Labor," RTBU Tasmania secretary Ric Bean wrote.
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"Having lost three consecutive state elections, the party is now at a crossroads, and it is clear that things must change."
While the RTBU's Victorian and Queensland branches are aligned with Labor's Left faction and its New South Wales branch with the Right, the union's Tasmanian branch remains unaligned.
Mr Bean said Tasmanian Labor needed to address two key issues if it was to become competitive again: its "policy development processes" and internal party culture.
"Our members ... were not consulted in the development of Labor's transport policies [in the 2021 campaign]," he wrote. "The failure to engage public transport workers was evident in the quality of the public transport policy that Labor took to the election."
"Most disappointing was Labor's failure to allocate a single cent to expanding bus services - compared to the Liberals' commitment of an additional $60 million."
Having lost three consecutive state elections, the party is now at a crossroads, and it is clear that things must change.Ric Bean, Rail, Tram and Bus Union Tasmania secretary
Mr Bean also lamented the controversy that hampered the first two weeks of Labor's election campaign, after Kingborough mayor Dean Winter's preselection was initially blocked by the Left, before the party's national executive intervened to install him as a candidate.
"Our members were disappointed by the conduct of party officials in this matter," he wrote.
"To put it simply, Labor will never attract more voters, let alone activists and quality candidates, when it appears to be a closed shop.
"We therefore wish to understand your plan for reforming the culture of Tasmanian Labor, and ensuring the preselection dramas which undermined the 2021 election campaign will never happen again. This means ensuring that all Tasmanians with a commitment to Labor values are welcome in the party."
Acting Labor leader Anita Dow, also the party's transport spokesperson, said she met regularly with a representative from the union and "had some discussions with the RTBU during the short election campaign about our transport policy".
"I would be willing to meet with RTBU representatives to discuss their concerns," she said.
Labor committed to establishing a passenger transport taskforce to review and address issues with traffic flow. The party also pledged $150 million for a sea highway plan, including a fast-tracked purchase of two new ferries for Bass Strait, as well as upgrades to ports at Burnie, Devonport and Bell Bay.
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