Jason Wood on the left at Upwey Station
Jason Wood is the Liberal Member for the Federal seat of La Trobe situated in the outer east and south-east of Melbourne. The seat of La Trobe is one of the Liberal Party's most marginal seats. Jason Wood sits on a majority of .51%. In short, Jason cannot afford to offend any one - especially if they have a large family or are part of a large organisation or network.
To-day Jason crossed the line, upset people, and - arguably - broke the law namely the Victorian transport legislation and the electorate act. Jason and his helpers were handing out their particular brand of political propaganda at the railway stations of Boronia, Upper Ferntree Gully, and Tecoma on the Belgrave Line within the seat of La Trobe. Jason himself was handing out stuff at Boronia. When asked to desist and move on by Metro station officers he refused claiming that he was within his rights to do this.
Now the rule of thumb is that anyone wishing to hand out material must seek permission - and permission is not given to those handing out commercial or political material. This means the local RSL, as an example, is likely to get permission to sell badges or poppies. Politicians and political parties won't get a guernsey.
Now one would think that this little nicety would not have escaped Jason. Not only should politicians be a bit astute about how and when and where they can campaign but, dear Networkers, Jason is a former policeman. Here is how he describes his policing career:
In nearly twenty years working with the Victorian Police Force, I experienced the best and worst sides of humanity. I worked in the prevention of both youth and drug related crimes. This experience encouraged me to push for greater opportunities for young people who might be challenged by school, family or other social issues. I strongly believe that a society’s youth is its greatest asset. I believe that we must invest in our youth, provide them with opportunities and give them a sense of confidence and hope in themselves, and in the future.
In my time with the Victorian Police, I worked as a Junior Constable at Boronia Police Station, later becoming a Detective with the Organised Crime Squad (OCS). In time, I was promoted to Senior Sergeant with the Counter Terrorism Coordination Unit (CTCU). In this capacity, I was responsible for reviewing legislation and for research into counter-terrorism. Now, in Federal Parliament, I am a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission and most recently, I have been appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Public Security and Policing. This work enables me to apply my experiences with the Victorian Police to current debate and decision-making about Australian’s national security, counter-terrorism and crime.
Wouldn't you think that Jason would have had a clue on such a basic matter as railway station campaigning. Mmm......? Is he this effective in other elements of his job as the representative for La Trobe?
Needless to say, there has been a bit of a hustle and bustle around the rail between Boronia and Tecoma this morning. One hander-out had to be publicly called out over the loudspeaker, was asked to shift, moved - but not far enough - and had to be asked once again. The public calling out was because this had to be done remotely from another station because there are no staff at Tecoma. The Metro Media Centre has been fielding some enquiries this morning. And Jason's activities were noted on air at 3AW Breakfast with Ross and John.
Election campaigns can be roller-coaster events with the unexpected always to be expected - but I wonder how many votes were lost to-day by Jason.
For a start, it might be a good idea, Jason, to be a bit sensitive about railway staff. You see, you are a Liberal and there are long memories in the railway - even to transferring that corporate memory on to new generations of staff - about how Jeff Kennett 'reformed' the railways.
The picture of you at the top is about discussing of security on the railway. It is noteworthy that it was the Kennett Liberal Government that did away with the guards on suburban trains. Under Kennett, stations were de-staffed. Take away the people, Jason, and you take away security.
The members of the RTBU remember these things - and when you don't comply with the rules as their job requires them to ask you and your helpers to do - you don't do yourself any favours. They have a vote too, you know. And, Jason, when you don't comply with legitimate requests you are not setting a great example to those non-compliant travellers who threaten the security of train travel.
Ah well, Jason. At least people have a choice. For one there's Laura Smyth and, for another, there's Jim Reiher.