WHERE’S IAN?: Ipswich MP Ian Berry joins electrical workers campaigning against him outside of his Booval office.
WHERE’S IAN?: Ipswich MP Ian Berry joins electrical workers campaigning against him outside of his Booval office. Inga Williams

Ipswich MP's 'rent-a-crowd' comment creates heat

OPPONENTS of asset sales and the long-term leasing of public assets have ramped up their campaign against sitting Ipswich LNP MP Ian Berry.

A crowd of Ipswich Energex workers attended a rally in front of Mr Berry's office on Thursday night as part of the Not 4 Sale campaign, which is funded by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

Mr Berry joined the protesters in a photo for the QT, but ETU organiser Stuart Traill said the crowd was less than impressed with the Ipswich MP "given Berry's comments that the Energex workers protesting were a rent-a-crowd, when they were clearly Energex workers and local Ipswich workers".

"He ridiculed them," Mr Traill said.

"He said, 'These aren't the real workers. They are the same as the firies in Redcliffe. They are a rent-a-crowd'.

"The guys said, 'We are Energex workers'.

"All it has done is reconfirmed their resolve to see the back end of Berry.

"They have a hell of a lot to lose if the LNP privatises the electricity industry, and then the private companies go on a job cut program that has happened everywhere else where electricity has been privatised."

Mr Berry said he respected the protesters' position, even though they were no fans of the LNP.

"They have a job to do. There is nothing wrong with democratically voicing your opinion," he said.

"I know they feel very uncertain about their position.

"We had an argy-bargy at the beginning but I went back and said, 'I know where you guys are coming from'.

"I fully respect what they are doing. I appreciate they may not necessarily respect what I am doing, but that is life.

"We all settled down and started to talk about policy."

As for the rent-a-crowd remark, Mr Berry said "they had wives, kids and heaven knows what else there" and it had reminded him of an experience he had in Redcliffe with protesters.

"I have dealt with the firefighters where there were uniforms in the back of cars, and where they were paid."

Mr Berry said he joined the protesters in a photo because "they are entitled to know they have a representative that will go into bat for them".