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Face of the union advertising campaign says she will probably lodge a protest vote against Labor

The face of the union advertising campaign in the lead-up to the election is a long-time unionist, now with retired unionists group Vintage Reds, but says she will probably lodge a protest vote against Labor's tram.

Retired nurse Jude Dodd said she was a little averse to the limelight and at first refused the request from Unions ACT secretary Alex White to front the $60,000 union campaign, but was persuaded.

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She was not, though, a rusted-on Labor voter, and said many people this year were opposed to the tram and development issues in the city. She was likely to lodge a protest vote against light rail, voting for an independent or Green.

Ms Dodd said she usually preferenced Labor. She acknowledged that meant her vote would contribute to a Green success or, when the independent was knocked out of the race, to a Labor success, either way helping Labor form government. Which in turn would result in a tram being built. "Indirectly, yes, unfortunately," she said.

The union advertisement, which begin airing on WIN, 7Prime and on social media on Saturday, with 219 television slots booked for August and September, is the only union advertisement in the lead-up to the October election.

In the advertisement, Ms Dodd says: "What are the Canberra Liberals not telling us? ... What jobs will they cut next? Nurses? Public servants? Teachers? I just feel the Canberra Liberals are not being upfront with us. Their plans won't work but they will hurt."

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Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson has promised to employ "many more nurses", but Ms Dodd pointed to the lack of detail and the growing list of promises, and that Mr Hanson was yet to say how he would fund them, other than scrapping the tram.

Ms Dodd said she had worked since 1977 almost entirely at Canberra Hospital, mainly in the cardiac unit and in endoscopy, and was a long-time workplace delegate. She retired about two years ago but maintained her interest through Vintage Reds.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation ACT secretary Jenny Miragaya said the union was not affiliated with Labor and would not endorse any party, but had put questions to Labor, the Liberals and the Greens about permanent employment – ACT Health now employ graduates on one-year contracts – staff ratios and the next pay offer.

Ms Miragaya is also vice president of Unions ACT, but said she had not been involved in choosing Ms Dodd and had not seen the advertisement until it was produced. The advertising campaign had been a majority decision of the campaign committee, she said, declining to divulge what stance she had taken.

All 24 unions, including the nurses' union, paid a campaign levy per member to Unions ACT to fund the campaign.

Mr Hanson had been upset about the union advertisement on Friday and had called her, Ms Miragaya said, but she had pointed out to him that Ms Dodd was retired and free to do as she pleased.

Ms Dodd is a bit daunted by being the single face of the union campaign. "I didn't realise the magnitude of it until after I'd done it," she said. "But there you go."

She doorknocked in Eden-Monaro in the federal election and defended the unions' technique of asking people to sign "pledges", which were mailed back just before polling day to remind voters how they had pledged.

She rejected the suggestion that undecided voters were being manipulated via the pledges, saying they were only approaching union members and only a small proportion actually signed pledges.

"The idea is that, when the election comes, you post the pledge back to them and they can have a look at how their pledge matches each candidate's platform on the day ... There are so many union members that are undecided voters so you want to get them thinking."

Ms Dodd is active on social media, tweeting under the handle, @sister_ratched, a joke reference to the cold-hearted nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.