Tasmanian Greens leader and Corrections Minister Nick McKim stood down prison officers at Hobart’s Risdon Prison last month and replaced them with police. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) who represent the officers accused the Minister of provoking a major dispute.
McKim’s actions came as prison officers discussed how to deal with safety issues once the Tactical Response Group was withdrawn from the jail’s maximum security unit. The Tactical Response Group had been at Risdon to protect prison staff after a major disturbance led to six prison officers being seriously injured.
McKim had ordered the police to do the work of prison officers even before a vote on industrial action took place. CPSU leader Mat Johnston said “What we’ve seen here is the introduction of police to fill the posts of people who are willing to do their jobs.
“The last people to do that in Australia was the Howard-Reith government in the Patrick dispute. Even Prime Minister Howard and Minister Reith used police in an existing industrial dispute — what we’ve seen from the minister today is actually bringing on an industrial dispute by the use of police.”
A number of unions have donated money to the Greens in recent years only to be repaid with them organising a scab workforce. Disappointingly Federal Greens leader Bob Brown defended McKim while Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt has been silent on the issue.