The Sauce: HSU boss Gerard Hayes lets loose at Cessnock MP Clayton Barr

The Daily Telegraph, 27 May 2023

A Labor MP’s furious reply to a Health Services Union worker’s request for a meeting has resulted in a scathing, yet humorous, missive addressed to the ‘Grand Duke of Cessnock’.

A testy email exchange between union officials and a Labor MP has demonstrated just how fraught the relationship is.

Senior Health Services Union (HSU) official Adam Hall had fired off a letter to Cessnock MP Clayton Barr to organise a catch-up about issues the union was campaigning on “and to discuss other matters of importance to yourself and your electorate”.

The relatively chirpy letter by Hall congratulated Barr on his election win before declaring Hall he was in and around parliament “most days” should the MP be free to meet.

“Take care and look forward to catching up,” Hall said.

But instead of receiving a meeting date, Hall instead copped a spray.

In his reply email, Barr wrote how he was “filthy” at the union for its role in “wiping out” long-serving MP Mick Veitch from the party’s ticket in the lead-up to the election and how now HSU boss Gerard Hayes was “sticking it to new Premier Minns” about wages caps.

“That followed on from the savage HSU attacks on former Leader Jodi McKay,” Barr wrote.

“So if we are to meet, I would certainly hope you could bring along some explanation as the political games of the HSU. Regards, Clayton”.

Not sure what Hall thought of the response, but Hayes was unimpressed.

Starting an email to Barr with “His Excellency, The Rt. Most Hon. Clayton Barr, Grand Duke of Cessnock”, Hayes let Barr know what he thought of his attitude.

“May I begin this correspondence with a humble apology on behalf of 47,000 health and hospital workers, some of whom reside within your realm,” he wrote.

“I beseech thee to excuse our impertinence for seeking an audience with His Excellency to explain our petty woes. This was a profound error of judgment on our part.

“The HSU profoundly regrets its actions to help NSW Labor become electorally competitive. Political leadership and election campaigns are far above our rank. Thank you for reminding us of our place in the world.”

Hayes said the union had now “heeded His Excellency’s message” about the need for “unquestioning loyalty to the Crown” and that “as mere subjects”, it was “beyond impertinent” for the union to seek increases to wages and conditions.

“We should be satisfied with our lot and grateful to serve under such a beneficent Crown,” Hayes wrote.

“Should His Excellency ever find time in his undoubtedly very busy schedule to grant an audience to our motley crew of paramedics, cleaners, therapists, security officers and wardspeople we would be eternally grateful.

“To be blessed with His Excellency’s wisdom would be an honour for the ages.”

Hayes signed the correspondence from “your humble and obedient servant”.

The catch-up will be interesting.