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ASC blinks as union worker free to run in Mayo

Politics

The battle for the hills and coastal seat of Mayo will be a three-cornered contest, with government-owned shipbuilder ASC relenting to facilitate employee Glen Dallimore’s candidacy for the ALP.

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As InDaily revealed last month, Dallimore and ASC had been locked in an ongoing standoff over his prospective federal election tilt, with Dallimore all but anointed as Labor’s man in Mayo.

While Liberal Jamie Briggs holds the seat with a comfortable 12.5 per cent margin, it is considered vulnerable given his controversial ousting from the cabinet in December and the threat posed by the emerging Nick Xenophon Team, whose candidate Rebekha Sharkie once worked in Briggs’ electorate office.

ASC had been refusing to grant Dallimore, a shipbuilder and AMWU organiser, unpaid leave to contest the seat, or guarantee his re-employment if he quit to run.

The company previously told InDaily it was “unable to guarantee the positions of any employees who might resign and wish to return”, as it was “currently reducing its workforce on the Air Warfare Destroyer project”.

While public servants who resign to run for Parliament are generally allowed their old jobs back if they are unsuccessful, ASC presented a rare conundrum as a government-owned business enterprise – moreover, one at the centre of an incandescent political debate and a series of lucrative government contracts. Premier Jay Weatherill had condemned the standoff as “political”, accusing the Federal Government of wanting to “deter Glen from exercising his democratic right to stand for parliament”.

dallimore

Glen Dallimore.

However, InDaily can reveal that ASC has now relented to let Dallimore resign to contest Mayo – and has pledged to reinstate him if the ALP falls short.

“ASC has agreed that should he be unsuccessful in gaining election, that it will offer him the opportunity to be re-employed,” it told InDaily in a statement.

“ASC does not prevent its employees for running for political office; individual employees make these decisions based on their own personal circumstances.

“However, ASC remains politically impartial and Mr Dallimore is not standing in the election as a representative of ASC.”

While the matter went to arbitration in the Fair Work Commission last week, its not clear whether the resolution came about through that process.

Dallimore told InDaily today that ASC “have been very co-operative about it”, but emphasised that the deal did not necessarily represent a precedent for other employees of government-owned enterprises.

“It’s a one-off agreement for myself,” he said.

“I’d say there’s been much happening in the background.”

When informed of the development by InDaily, incumbent Briggs said he welcomed the development.

“Of course if people want to participate in democracy, they should be allowed to,” he said.

“It’s important that Mayo have a choice between a Turnbull-led Government and a potential Shorten-led Government, and I welcome Mr Dallimore’s candidacy.”

But the choice may be wider still, with the jostling for second place on primaries a potential game-changer to determine the two-candidate split.

If both the second and third-placed candidate poll strongly, Briggs would need to garner more than 50 per cent of the primary vote to be safe. He polled 53.82 on primaries in 2013.

The Greens also traditionally poll strongly in the Hills-based electorate, managing 14.15 per cent at the last election. While considered a blue-ribbon Liberal stronghold, its eclectic mix of constituents has made it ripe for independent assaults, with the Democrats almost claiming it from Alexander Downer in 1998, and Briggs himself only just scraping in 10 years later, when the Greens’ Lynton Vonow led a field of challengers in a by-election in which Labor didn’t run a candidate.

Dallimore, who lives in the electorate, will now formally nominate for the preselection this week, amid reports writs could be issued for a July double-dissolution election as early as Friday.

Federal Member for Mayo Jamie Briggs

Federal Member for Mayo Jamie Briggs. Photo: Nat Rogers, InDaily.

It’s expected the ALP state executive will rubber-stamp his candidacy at a meeting on Monday next week.

Labor’s most keenly-targeted seats will be Hindmarsh and Boothby, but Mayo and Sturt loom as wildcards given the disrupter effect of the Xenophon ticket. However, the Coalition will be hoping last week’s long-awaited decision on the $50 billion Future Submarines project will cauterise some of the electoral bleeding in its SA seats.

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