Teachers union asked to explain ‘political’ emails

Teachers union asked to explain ‘political’ emails
The Tasmanian Liberals say they have asked the state’s police to investigate the Australian Education Union (AEU) over emails it sent to MPs claiming to be from the state’s teachers.

As part of the union’s Quality Education campaign, members were invited to sign an online petition calling on all Tasmanian political parties to commit to providing more resources for public education.

“As is the nature of petitions, they are designed to be presented to the recipients – in this case local politicians,” Helen Richardson, AEU Tasmania branch president, told The Educator.

“AEU members were emailed last week to let them know that we were going to start sending the petition names to MPs over the weekend.”

Richardson pointed out that people completing the petition were given an ‘opt out’ button to select if they didn’t wish their names to be shared online.

Tasmanian Liberal Party campaign spokesman, Michael Ferguson, said serious questions have been raised about the emails, which appear to have been sent without the senders’ consent.

“We have had numerous complaints from teachers that these emails have been sent in their name, with workplace details but without their knowledge,” Ferguson told The Educator.

“If correct, such actions would be grossly unethical, at the very least.”

Ferguson said he referred the issue to police asking them to investigate the alleged conduct in relation to s253A of the Tasmanian Criminal Code (Fraud), and s288 (Personation).

“The AEU needs to explain its actions, how they were able to access people's private information, and whether they had informed consent to send each of these political emails on their behalf,” Ferguson said.

However, in a statement provided to The Educator, the Tasmanian Police said it had no knowledge of the matter, but if referred it will consider if an investigation is required.

Related stories:
Anonymous email warns of ‘mass teacher walkout’
Schools need ‘own ICAC’ for abuse complaints