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Unions take credit for win

MUA WA leader Christy Cain.
MUA WA leader Christy Cain.

The head of one of WA’s most militant unions says Labor leader Mark McGowan owes trade unions for his victory on Saturday.

Maritime Union of Australia WA branch secretary Christy Cain says the unions threw masses of resources and cash to support the Labor campaign, and now expect the new government to make good on promises to block any sale of Western Power and Fremantle port.

“I reckon the campaign was won largely by the union movement,” he said. “He really owes the unions re privatisations, re putting Australian jobs first, re not selling the port.”

Mr Cain said MUA members provided about 200 personnel to staff polling booths and other bigger unions provided more manpower.

Liberal MPs reported Labor election booths were well presented and well staffed, often with union members. One Liberal MP claimed union officials had been flown in from the east coast to staff booths.

Mr Cain’s comments will be seized on by Liberal MPs, who claim unions helped Mr McGowan rush last year’s leadership challenge from former defence minister Stephen Smith.

Senior Liberals say Labor, with the support of cashed-up unions, outspent them on advertising during the campaign by a ratio of about 5 to 1.

At least a dozen members of Mr McGowan’s new government are linked to dominant left-wing union United Voice.

Mr McGowan has promised to block the sale of Western Power, which has won support from the Electrical Trades Union. He is also opposed to the sale of Fremantle port, a core issue for the MUA.

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