||Issue No. 134||03 May 2002|
The Hijacking of May Day
Interview: Youth Group
History: Back To The Future
Industrial: On the Street
Unions: The New Deal
Legal: The Police State Road
Women: What Women Want
Politics: Street Party
International: The Costs of War
Review: Songs of Solidarity
Satire: Bono Satisfies World Hunger for Preachy Rockstars
The Locker Room
Week in Review
M1 Open Letter
May Day Debacle
Mothers Day Musings
Greetings From Canada
Maurie on May Day
I am Irish and I am so often patted on the back and told that the Irish people are remarkably a very big part of Australia and are very welcome and very recognised and very respected in this land. I am told that just on half the nation has some Irish blood. I am so often complimented about the standing of Irish people and Irish heritage in this nation. However, happy though I am to be hearing such, I want to make it very plain and very unambiguously clear that, be it the Irish people or any other nation whose people have come to Australia, there is one people in this nation who are above all the praise of latecomers. There is one people, of many nations in Australia, who have a place in this continent which is indelible and can never be superseded and which has endured over two centuries of attack and hostility and every obscene method of extermination. I speak about the people who are the premier people of this nation, whose mother is the land of Australia. I salute and I acknowledge and I defer to the Aboriginal people of Australia.
I am delighted that the trade union movement today so strongly supports the Aboriginal people and Aboriginal movements across this nation.
Right now, we are watching in many areas of the nation a failure of major industrial enterprises to abide by their obligations to their employees. I speak particularly about the major industries who refuse and fail to pay entitlements to their employees. We listen to daily broadcasts of trade unions being lambasted because they want security for their members, particularly in cases of redundancy and retirement. Can anybody in this room now tell me what is wrong with a trade union putting its foot down and saying we want guarantees, not just verbal diarrhoea but water-tight guarantees that employees, who are members of trade unions, will be given their entitlements? Equally, we watch proposed legislation being cast around the place making it so easy for businesses to sack people for any reason, not just a good reason or for something nasty, but any reason the employer wants. It does not really matter whether the business is small or enormous. What does matter is that right is right and fairness is fairness and there is no reason whatsoever why a small business should be entitled to unfairly dismiss an employee any more than a major business should.
The international scene in some areas is a very sad scene. It is sadly necessary but pleasing to see that the ACTU has issued a strong condemnation about conditions in the Middle East. The trade union movement is against no nation expanding and improving itself within its own boundaries, but the trade union movement cannot, should not and, indeed, I hope will not go silent whilst any nation goes past its own boundaries to render the people of a neighbouring nation into virtual slavery. Were there to be another Adolf Hither here tomorrow, I, and no doubt everybody in this room, would rise against such a thing and such policies and we would take a stand as did our forebears some 60-odd years ago and we would abhor and try to counteract the incredible obscenity of the death camps and the concentration camps. Equally today should we condemn the refugee camps of Palestine, because they are forced to remain as refugee camps. Today the refugee camps in Palestine, or what is left of the refugee camps, house three generations of people, most of whom don't know what an ordinary free street is. Palestinians are born in, they live in and they die in refugee camps. It is obscene that the people who were so oppressed 60 years ago should today visit that same oppression and slaughter on their neighbours. I reiterate that the trade union movement is not against any nation within its own boundaries but we strongly condemn generations being held in abject poverty and in ignorance of what reasonable life is all about.
The Australian government in Canberra has sat by and watched this international obscenity take place. So has the Government of the United States. Clearly the value of life in one place is not equal to the value of life in another place. Such statements can easily be borne out by looking at the people who are today incarcerated in isolation and in unspeakable and inhumane conditions in the most remote parts of Australia. We watched an election being fought on a compendium of lies and demonisation of people. We have since seen the greatest display of Sergeant Schultz since "Hogan's Heroes". They all know nothing. And the saddest of all things surrounding this human obscenity has been the failure of the Federal Labor Party to take a stand that is clearly and widely different from the stand of the Coalition Government. Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades, beyond any doubt I want to make clear my admiration for the splendid stand that John Robertson and his colleagues at the Labor Council have taken on the question of the ill-teatment of refugees. John has been in many debates in many forums and his support for those oppressed people is nothing short of magnificent and contagious and courageous. John, you have the admiration of the free world and particularly of the oppressed world. It is indeed so sad that the Labor Party could not come out in the same unambiguous way as the Labor Council has come out and taken a stand, not just for democracy as a title of living, but for the freedoms and the decencies and the human rights that are the birth right of every human being and should be bestowed by democracy. It is so sad that the Labor Party could not have adopted the stand that the NSW Labor Council has adopted. You see, Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades, the Labor Council is populated by and is run by and administered by trade unionists and is not beholden to politicians of any shade or tint. Today, pretty much across the entire world, trade unionists and their members are the advocates for and are the guardians of freedom. Trade Unions take on Governments on every continent when services and rights have been cut back, just as the trade unions in NSW continue to take on Governments of all persuasions in this State. I honestly do not think that it has been remarkably successful for political parties to be dominated by Members of Parliament. Such a scenario gives the perception to many people that they have been excluded from party in-put. There is every good reason to have trade union people become active in the senior ranks of the Labor Party and it is for such reason that I have decided over very recent days to offer myself as a candidate for the presidency of the NSW Labor Party. I am not a politician and if for no other reason than that then I should be elected by a massive majority. A non-politician need not be locked into the political web and more capably can represent all members and help eliminate the factionalism that has such a draining impact on the Labor Party. It is very difficult for a politician to oppose what that politician's government has in the pipeline. The politician is part of the Government whereas a trade unionist at the helm might or might not agree with the Government's political line and if he or she should disagree then it is much more acceptable for a non-politician to attack a political party than for a politician who is a member of that political party to attack the party.
Indeed, it is time for politicians in this nation, for political parties in this nation, to stand on issues of principle and not be guided and goaded into off-the-cuff policies to suit the shock-jocks and the parrots of the radio stations, and if the politicians themselves cannot realise their moral deficiencies in this area, then it is incumbent upon the trade unionists, who may be members of political parties or who may be active in the political scene, to make it clearly known to all politicians that they are there in their parliaments at our behest and it is very much time for humble members of political parties to have a say in the germination of policies and in the keeping of policies by their political parties.
This scenario is exemplified by the Pacific Power controversy in NSW. There is a clear and there is an unambiguous Labor Party policy that no part of electricity shall be sold to the private sector. That policy is being defiled by the Government in NSW. I say now that it is folly for any government to give or to sell to the private sector the vital necessities of life. Electricity is one such vital part of life that should be maintained and guaranteed by the Government. Do you want One-Tel to be the electricity supplier? Do you want Christopher Skase (we are not even sure if he is dead) to be in charge of the water supply? Do you want Alan Bond to be in charge of oxygen?
NSW is a splendid State but the clear signs are that the people that really go out of their way to put the Government into power in NSW are feeling very disenchanted and excluded.
I should perhaps now congratulate John Brogden in ascending to the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party. He is given to us as a potential custodian of our tranquillity. He comes to us with references as to his liberal openness, with a non-conservative political agenda in the areas of drugs and euthanasia, etc. This is all very fine to advertise the man as a liberal. Those people are fine until you mention to them something about a trade union and then they shit themselves. They have no time for collective bargaining. They want every man and every woman to be under an individual contract, where dog will eat dog and human beings will undercut and under-price a weaker human being. It is the finest example of social Darwinism. In the animal kingdom we accept the survival of the fittest but we as humans expect a bit more from each other. This is not the philosophy of the Opposition in NSW or of the Government in Canberra. They would sell their own mothers and fathers for an extra shilling.
At the present time in Australia, we live with the shame of a Federal Government that has a computer for a mind and a cash register for a heart and which most disgracefully and brazenly wants to get rid of the Australian Shipping Industry. Shame, Shame, Shame. In many parts of the world, the Australian Government is seen as shameful and can I say that it is sad that the Labor Opposition cannot be more forceful in denouncing the actions of this Government. However, the trade union movement is not afraid to stand against it and now to John Howard and Phillip Ruddock and Peter Costello and their ex-mates Michael Woolridge and Peter Reith and all the other clawing, and greedy bastards of their ilk, the trade union movement sends one message. It is beware, beware of the risen people and above all beware of the rising people and do not think for one moment that we would not take back that which is ours, which you have taken from us and which you refuse to give back. Do you think to conquer the people of Australia? Do you think that your laws, that are legal, but unjust, are stronger than life and stronger than the people's desire to bargain collectively and their desire to be free? Beware, down there in Canberra, all you who have harried and held, all you who have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, racists, liars.
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