Greens candidate for Dawson Jonathon Dykyj with QTU demonstrators, after police were called.
Greens candidate for Dawson Jonathon Dykyj with QTU demonstrators, after police were called. Contributed

‘We’re not thugs’: MP's staff calls police on Gonski rally

A 'BIZARRE attack on democracy' - that's how the Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) and Greens candidate for Dawson Jonathon Dykyj described police being called on a Gonski funding rally by the union outside Dawson MP George Christensen's office on Thursday.

However, details surrounding the event vary wildly, depending on who we spoke with yesterday.

Mr Dykyj and rally organiser QTU's Elissa Ferguson, claimed the union was wrapping up the late afternoon demonstration, which was authorised by police in advance, when Mr Christensen's staffer blocked them in with his car and became "antagonistic", calling police and accusing demonstrators of blocking the Milton Street office block carpark.

"It seems unfortunately the local member responds to people he doesn't agree with, with divisive almost bullying tactics and it seems his attitude has extended to his staff and the culture in his workplace," Mr Dykyj said, after providing photos to the Mercury.

 

Jonathon Dykyj, Greens candidate for Dawson, and Elissa Ferguson, QTU rally organiser, claimed Mr Christensen's staffer blocked them in with his car during Thursday's demonstration.
Jonathon Dykyj, Greens candidate for Dawson, and Elissa Ferguson, QTU rally organiser, claimed Mr Christensen's staffer blocked them in with his car during Thursday's demonstration. Contributed

"I was gobsmacked when I arrived there the situation was happening...I think George needs to discipline his staff member and have a hard think about how he operates in this community.

"It's unbecoming of a parliamentarian and a sad indictment of Mr Christensen. These are serving, practising teachers - one of the most respected, hard-working members of our community - and all they want is for our local member to back them..."

But Mr Christensen's office, who responded on behalf of the politician, claimed demonstrators intimidated and confronted the staffer, before another worker at Mr Christensen's office called the cops.

"While unloading material, the protesters converged around the staff member demanding that the car be shifted and taking photographs and videos of him when they were expressly asked not to do so," a spokeswoman said.

"While it may be fair game for the Member for Dawson to face constant public scrutiny it is not appropriate for Dawson electorate office employees to be subjected to such intimidation and confrontation.

"Another staff member of the Dawson electorate office called the police to deal with the confrontation, intimidation and refusal by Mr Dykyj and others to stop taking photographs and footage of the staff member who was offloading material from his car."

Ms Ferguson backed Mr Dykyj's claims: "It was organised under the correct processes...we were getting the message out to the community about how important Gonski is for our region," she said.

"Near 5'oclock we were packing up, as per the requirements...around that time Mr Christensen's staffer pulled into the carpark behind my car, blocking it in to unload material into George's office.

"There was definitely other carparks available...people with us asked him to move so we could leave and he refused.

"He said he was calling the police...I asked if he could please move the car so we could vacate...he said the police were called and he would not be doing that.

"It was a peaceful gathering (of about 20 people) by a group of educators...at no point in time was there any negativity towards George or his staff. We're not a group of thugs.

"Everybody (at the rally) was thrilled with the public reception our message recieved...it was disheartening to see the staff member of the local candidate was acting so appallingly in a situation where it didn't need to happen.

"I really don't think the staffers of our local politician should be interfering in the democratic process like this."

Police did not charge any of the demonstrators at the rally, or take further action in any respect, Ms Ferguson and Mr Dykyj said.


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