Interview: Head On
Unions: Do You Have a Moment?
Industrial: Vital Signs
Economics: Taxing Times
Environment: It Ain’t Necessarily So
History: Melbourne’s Hours
Immigration: Opening the Floodgates
Review: Pollie Fiction
Poetry: The Cabal
The Locker Room
The Cowra Clause
Belly Spreads The Word
Lying Lies And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
Vale Bill Hartley
William Henry (Bill) Hartley - 26 October1930- 18 February 2006
When I joined the Victorian branch of the Labor Party as a teenager, Bill Hartley was the paid secretary and a legendary hard man of the left. A protégé of Joe Chamberlain the powerful WA Labor figure, Bill came to Victoria with the blessing of his former state comrades.
Unlike some of his comrades, Bill never departed from his position as a radical nor did he die rich in assets. The year 1970 was a tumultuous one in Melbourne with the so called Hartley/Crawford Victorian Central Executive (VCE) being sacked by the Federal Executive of the ALP. By the end of December a new faction existed, then known as the Combined Unions and Socialist Left. The 2006 SL faction is the second largest in Victoria and has boasted a Victorian Premier (Joan Kirner) and a Deputy Prime Minister (Brian Howe) as high profile members.
The early 1970s saw some of the largest anti-war marches in Melbourne, especially the first Vietnam Moratorium supported strongly by the soon to be sacked VCE playing a vital role within the Labor Party.
Bill was one of the reasons I drifted into the Left as well as my friendships with comrades like Bob Hogg and Kevin Healy. The support of the Vietnam Moratorium movement by the Left controlled Victorian branch of the ALP made my factional choice easy.
Hartley by 1971 had no paid employment bar a few days as a "typist" with the Meatworkers Union. During one of the anti- Springbok Rugby demonstration he was assaulted by Victoria Police and hospitalised.
Although one of Gough Whitlam's factional opponents, Bill had a working relationship with the Parliamentary Leader by 1977 and opposed challenges by Lionel Bowen and later Bill Hayden. In later years, a canine friend to Bill was named "Whitlam" and became a constant companion. Whitlam was with Bill Hartley in WA on the night of his master's death and will live out his remaining days in Geraldton. The Hartley/Hawke relationship could be best described as one of mutual loathing. In 1986 Bob Hawke engineered Bill's expulsion from the Victorian ALP.
Unlike Jack Lang in his twilight years, Bill was never forgiven by the Hawke forces. His position on Palestine was sufficient to make him a pariah in the eyes of much of the Labor Unity faction.
Bill was never a hater but a contributor of energy and innovation to groups as diverse as community radio and the Epilepsy Foundation.
A memorial service was held on March 9th at the Victorian Trades Hall. One of Bills' long term comrades, George Crawford, spoke of the fight within the Victorian Labor Party and the campaign against Australia's involvement in Vietnam
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