define('DISABLE_WP_CRON', true); Aboriginal – Chris White Online Blogging from a life-long unionist Sat, 21 Oct 2017 03:35:13 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 Chris White Reminiscences Sat, 21 Oct 2017 03:35:13 +0000 ChrisKathryn2017
Chris White Reminiscences
Many photos of a memorable event by Ridley and Ric. Thank you to all the speakers, MC Michael White and Director Kathryn Moyle and organisers. Great to see the hundreds of comrades.
Thank you to Star Theatre, Adelaide.The recording of these celebrations are at the SA Library, please contact Labour Historian Alison Murchie. On this library file is as well an audio recoding done at Radio 3CR with Chris and Mike on Chris’s early years at the AWU and Missos and a number of strikes.

Turnbull fails to fund dementia
Chris White blog on the Right to Strike
Please support ICAN
Timor Sea Justice campaign
JanMay dayRichard
Please support IPAN
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Peace movement building by Chris White

Oppose nuclear war with North Korea


Marx’s Capital
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Liebowitz on Marx
CWInvitation Chris White Mindfields

Save the Great Barrier Reef
CWInvitation Chris White Mindfields
CWInvitation Chris White Mindfields
The right to strike by Chris White
The right to strike may2016 2
Stop the War on Workers

Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance protest Sat, 30 Jul 2016 06:50:30 +0000 Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance protest Melbourne State Library Saturday 30 July.

Protest shuts down Melbourne intersection report
No surprises in abuse of Indigenous children

radio 3CR reports
1. Stan Grant: “How can I stand here and speak to the idea of our place in an indissoluble Commonwealth when this week my people have been reminded that our place is so often behind this nation’s bars,” Grant said, beginning to shake slightly, with moistened eyes.

“This week we know what Australia looks like. This week Australia is a boy in a hood in a cell. This week Australia is Aboriginal boys tear gassed, locked down and beaten. These are the images on our television screens. The boys who look like my boys.”
Stan Grant delivers fiery speech on Indigenous rights in wake of abuse scandal.
Grant called instead for a truth and conciliation commission, a “full reckoning of our nation’s past, that may set loose the chains of history that bind this country’s first and, today, most miserably impoverished people”.

2. Is Commissioner Martin to look into his legal judgements in the NT?
Brian Ross Martin is wrong: Supreme Court has dealt with Dylan Voller’s abuse before.
Pat Dodson

Turnbull sends message to Aboriginal Australia by appointing Brian Martin QC,9295
Update1 August: Cm Brian Martin resigns.

Report in May 2015 NT juvenile detention system failure, unhealthy incompetent punitive and in crisis
How much have we learnt since RC into aboriginal deaths in custody

Ken Canning: “A royal commission? Not good enough Turnbull. People have been screaming for the past five years about the Don Dale detention centre and your government and the Labor government have chosen to ignore this pure evil. You not only ignored it, you let it fester.

You either knew and thus are complicit, or you did not know and are simply not fit to govern. You cannot get out of this one with a slippery smile, Turnbull.

A Royal Commission? What a joke! You have all the evidence you need; it shocked a whole nation. Predominantly First Nations children are being brutalised by a system you let continue in your pretence of ignorance.

The evidence is there. Sack everyone in Corrective Services in the Northern Territory. Those who did not actually do anything would have known of these practices and allowed it to happen.

Sack the NT government and while you are at it, sweep the federal parliament of the rubbish currently holding seats of power who sat by and watched while our kids were being tortured.
This is an international disgrace and this country should be dragged before the United Nations and stripped of its powers. The Australian government had its racist intervention into the NT so maybe its time for an international intervention into Australia?

Put simply the Coalition and Labor have lost the ability to govern.


3. How the Northern Territory became Australia’s shame. The dark heart of Australia’s race relations has been exposed. Former Darwin local Damien Murphy reflects on how we got here.
‘The Northern and Central Land councils and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT say they are bitterly disappointed that the Prime Minister ignored their request to be consulted about the terms of reference and utterly reject Martin as royal commissioner.’

“Whoever has experienced the power and the unrestrained ability to humiliate another human being automatically loses his own sensations. Tyranny is habit; it has its own organic life; it develops finally into a disease. The habit can kill and coarsen the very best man or woman to the level of a beast. Blood and power intoxicate … the return of the human dignity, repentance and regeneration becomes almost impossible.”
Locking up Aboriginal people has become a form of tyranny in the territory. The per capita imprisonment rate of 843 per 100,000 is the highest in the world. (Australia’s national rate, based on 2014 figures, is 187). The territory easily eclipses the US imprisonment rate of 714. Read more here


Governments have ignored a new report exposing appalling rates of young Indigenous people in detention, writes Robert Milliken. But a new response is attracting growing support.
Amnesty’s two-year research project found that Indigenous young people – those aged between ten and seventeen – are now twenty-six times more likely to be in detention than their non-Indigenous peers. Aboriginal people make up about 5 per cent of Australia’s population in this age group, but are almost twelve times that proportion among detainees. On an average night in 2013–14, 430 of the 724 detainees in that age group Australia-wide were Indigenous children.

The picture is even worse for Aboriginal children aged ten and eleven: they make up more than 60 per cent of that group’s detainees. And it is worse still for Indigenous youth as a whole in Western Australia. They are fifty-three times more likely to be locked in detention than non-Indigenous young people – more than twice the national average.


Amnesty has called on the federal government to override the Western Australian mandatory sentencing law, and the offending Queensland provisions, in Canberra’s capacity as the government responsible for enforcing Australia’s human rights obligations. It also wants Canberra to raise the age at which children in Australia are held criminally responsible from ten to twelve, the age the UN convention stipulates.

There seems little, if any, chance of such intervention.

5. The horrors of juvenile detention in the NT shocked Australia, but they are the inevitable result of a system that seeks to punish and to dominate rather than hand back control, writes Liam McLoughlin.

“It is two centuries of policy that brought us here,” writes Helen Razer. “If we permit ourselves to see this as anomalous or shocking and not as the very predictable outcome of ongoing institutional paternalism, then we permit ourselves to see nothing at all.”

It’s fair to say Australia’s 228-year history of invasion, dispossession, genocide, paternalism and institutionalised racism has much to do with the latest horrific evidence of the callous disregard for Aboriginal lives.

Yet responsibility for the torture of mostly Indigenous children at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre need not be so diffuse.

In 1991, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody emphasised the importance of self-determination:

“The thrust of this report is that elimination of disadvantage requires an end of domination and an empowerment of Aboriginal people; that control of their lives, of their communities must be returned to Aboriginal hands.”

Of the 339 recommendations, at least 19 tackled self-determination specifically, urging the full participation of Aboriginal communities in decisions about their future.

6. Don Dale is the tip of the iceberg
Mistreatment of vulnerable people in detention is commonplace throughout Australia

BY RUSSELL MARKS Thursday, 28th July 2016

The “rogue elements” explanation is a fantasy. Most members of the Territory’s governing Country Liberal Party – including Giles – voted in favour of legislation that authorised the use of mechanical restraint chairs in May this year. Complaints of serious child abuse have been made about the Territory’s youth justice system for years, but both territory and federal governments have refused to act – except by legislating even tougher and harsher responses to youth crime. The ABC has previously reported on the systematic abuse of Voller and other children, and the Northern Territory Child Commissioner completed a report into the abuses that was published last September. …

Almost all state, territory and federal governments for the past generation have supported increasingly “tough” measures to deal with criminal behaviour.

Longer prison sentences. Harsher prison conditions. Mandatory imprisonment for certain crimes. Revocation of parole. As a result, the incarcerated population of Australian states and territories has skyrocketed since the mid-1970s. The increase has been exponential, so most of it has happened in the last decade.

All other things being equal, prison (and youth detention) makes it slightly more likely that a person will re-offend upon their release. It is extraordinarily expensive to keep a person in custody – about $100,000 a year for adults, and up to $300,000 for children – especially when compared with other ways of dealing with criminal behaviour that have much more success in actually stopping it.
Adam Giles himself has been at the forefront of the Territory’s “tough” response to criminal behaviour. In 2010, he famously told parliament in Darwin that if he were corrections minister – which he now is – “I would build a big concrete hole and put all the bad criminals in there.” He went on: “What I do not understand is how we are soft, flaccid and incapable of punishing prisoners in our corrections system.”

The media has also played its part. ”’

Nelson Mandela, who spent 26 years in South African prisons under Apartheid, wrote “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.”
Australia’s prisons are not those of a modern, democratic nation.

Our detention centres – for young people and for unlawful immigrants – increasingly resemble prisons. (Darwin’s Don Dale, despite being a juvenile justice centre, is officially known as a “maximum security prison” and is administered not by a human services department, as is the case in other states, but by the Territory’s department of corrections.)

Australia’s prisons are full of people with serious mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities.

Read more here

Earlier posts:I knew Elliott Johnston: ‘His work on the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody following his retirement from the Supreme Court. His commitment to equal justice for Indigenous Australians has a long history, including as first Chairperson of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement.

Despite Elliott’s work on the Royal Commission, equal justice remains elusive for many Indigenous Australians.

It is to be hoped that, sooner rather than later, the recommendations of the Royal Commission become established both in
law and in fact. That would be a fitting tribute to the work of Elliott
Johnston, a good man and a great Australian.’

When I was living in Darwin aborigines voted against the then ALP government that did little for their interests. They will again determine how much the current NT government and Chief Minister Giles survives the next election due soon.

Protesting the Howard Intervention into the NT

Environmental Crisis: Save the Great Barrier Reef campaign Thu, 06 Aug 2015 11:17:30 +0000 I returned to Melbourne after a good GBR family time. The tourism is 5 out of 5.
On the campaign front, please find good news for the GBR.GBR

Update October 24 from story below as Carmichael Mine now approved by Environment Minister Greg Hunt. This could be the largest coal mine in Australia and ruin the Great Barrier Reef. We know what team Hunt is desperately batting for — and it’s Big Coal.But the tide’s in our favour. Our movement has already pushed fourteen major banks to rule out funding this coal project. Just a few months ago, the Federal Court overturned the previous Carmichael mine approval.

But to kill this project once and for all, we need to supercharge our campaign right now.

Save Barrier Reef

Save Barrier Reef

Adani: Federal Court sets aside Minister Hunt’s approval
and the Commonwealth bank pulls out of finance.
Last night I saw on the ABC 7.30pm the report on Adani’s Carhmichael mine -the largest coal mine in the world – is facing a set back.

Traditional owners

From Greenpeace. Alex is active.
The Federal Court has just said that the Reef-wrecking Carmichael megamine should not have been given the go-ahead and has overturned the approval!
Thanks to our friends at Mackay Conservation Group, their legal challenge flushed out all sorts of inaccuracies around the mine’s use of water, super inflated job promises, and highlighted massive environmental impacts. Today the court ruled in their favour.

Now Ditch the Mine, Greg please sign

Greenpeace. Please do survey. See references, news feed

Today the Commonwealth Bank declines finance to Adani.

Update: Standard Charter Bank pulls out

The threats to GBR marine biology include a rise in sea temperature

and bigger storms and very dangerous cyclones causing destruction;

and longer-term destruction due to exporting coal and burning coal.

Then more environmental questions ignored.

Traditional owners’ protests are strong.
Please support their argument that have much merit.

From The Federal court has just overturned Greg Hunt’s approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin, because of its damaging environmental impacts! [1]
Email Hunt to tell him to reject this disastrous coal proposal once and for all.
Earlier this year, the courageous Mackay Conservation Group, supported by thousands of donations from the community, took Environment Minister Greg Hunt to court over his approval of Adani’s disastrous mine.* Their argument: Hunt failed to consider Adani’s terrible environmental record and the mine’s impact on the climate and local environment. Thousands of hours of hard work later, the case has been won — the Court has agreed that Hunt dropped the ball and has ordered him back to the drawing board to reconsider his decision to approve this ridiculous project.
But there’s only one decision Greg Hunt can justifiably make and that’s to reject the mine outright – join us in telling him to do exactly that.
There’s simply no way that Adani’s plans can proceed. They’re unbankable, unburnable and unbelievably reckless. That Hunt ever gave Adani the green-light shows yet again how negligent and coal-obsessed our Government is.
Now forced to reconsider his decision, it’s vital that Hunt hears us loud and clear when we tell him – reject the mine or face growing and deepening public opposition.
Today’s announcement is a major victory for our climate and Reef. It adds yet another delay to Adani’s dangerous plans – a delay that could spell the end of those plans.
But most of all, this victory is testament to the power of community.
That a tiny conservation group, supported by the donations of thousands of concerned citizens, can take on the Federal government, a multi-billion dollar mining company and one of the largest coal projects in the world and WIN should give us all hope that justice does eventually prevail.
Now join us in telling Hunt to scrap this monster coal project for good!
In solidarity, Charlie for the Australia team

For AbbottPM, Minister Hunt has to go. If the new Minister does not scrap this coal mine, then Liberals/Nationals face a huge protest vote at the coming election.

From Bill Shorten

I urge the multi-national Japanese company dominant in the GBR tourist trips to promote the campaigns against the economic corporate and political forces leading to the long-term destruction of the GBReef.

One question is whether the GBR can be saved within our current corporate capitalist globalisation.

Sustainable environmentalism
that includes tourism is the aim. E.g. one key debate accommodates the practice for saving the GBR with the UNESCO principles.

Or do we place on the agenda a new ecological socialism On this blog I post arguments.

‘Blocking Adani coal mine approval ‘dangerous’ for Australia, ‘tragic’ for world’: Tony Abbott

So, We can consider on-going action – how to take time to increase net-working, community and work organising. World-wide solidarity with all those who campaign to stop Adani.

Increase resistance to Save the Reef.

Profit-driven capitalism killing the Great Barrier Reef

The coral of the Great Barrier Reef is dying with scientists warning that the reef could be dead in a few decades. Basically the coral is suffering from bleaching which eventually leads to an ecosystem collapse if the coral is not given a chance to recover.

Large scale coral bleaching is a new phenomenon with serious events only taking place in the past 30-40 years. When the first truly big event happened in 1998, around 50% of reefs were affected. This year, however, is set to blow 1998 out of the water.

For the Great Barrier Reef the prognosis looks grim. So far over 90% of the reef has been affected by bleaching. Scientists expect coral mortality to be over 50% overall and over 90% in some areas of the reef. The worst part of all of this is that widespread coral bleaching has only occurred with the rise of global warming.

Bleaching occurs when coral is under extreme stress from increases in the ocean temperature and its acidity. Algae which live within and nourish the coral leave and the coral turns white, is weakened, unable to combat diseases and will eventually be overtaken by seaweed and die.

Global warming is connected to ocean acidification, as carbon dioxide becomes a weak acid when dissolved in ocean water. The more acidic water means that corals cannot absorb the normal levels of calcium carbonate needed to grow their skeletons.

While all this is happening the government is supporting plans to build the biggest coal mine in the southern hemisphere, with an extended port just off the Great Barrier Reef.

Both the Liberal Party and the Queensland Labor Party are spruiking the Carmichael Coal Mine as a boon for jobs. They are also claiming it will be a boost to the state’s economy.

The idiocy of both major parties in supporting this project is obvious. Tourism in Queensland through the Great Barrier Reef brings in $6 billion a year and supports 70,000 jobs. In contrast the new coal mine will employ only 5,000 and give the state economy a boost of $4.1 billion.

The problem is that it is going to be impossible to both run the mine and have the Great Barrier Reef survive. Global warming is killing the reef, and the Carmichael mine will operate for 90 years and flood the world with more fossil fuels. With reefs around the world facing extinction within decades this is unacceptable.

The major parties will be sacrificing tens of thousands of tourism jobs on the reef for this mine. Not only does this show short sightedness on their behalf, but it points out the massive influence that mining and the fossil fuel industry have over Australian politics.

Regardless of how much money can be made off the reef, or how many jobs it provides in contrast to the coal industry, the reef must be saved.

Coral reefs all over the world are vitally important to the environment as a whole, supporting an estimated 25% of all marine life. Coral reefs provide food for one billion people in Asia alone by hosting this marine life. If temperatures keep rising and coral around the world dies, this biodiversity will be destroyed.

The problem is that halting global warming is hampered by the capitalist system. The profit-driven nature of system means that short term profits outstrip the needs of people and the planet. In the case of the Great Barrier Reef vs the fossil fuel industry this is painstakingly obvious.

The situation however could be very different. Coral can be surprisingly resilient, it can sustain periods of stress and bleaching and still recover. This all depends however, on whether or not the temperature drops back down to a level that coral life can sustain itself on.

Already this episode of bleaching has left 35% of coral in the Great Barrier Reef either dead or dying. If we want to see this situation change, we have a very limited time in which to make it happen. We need a massive shift away from fossil fuels. That can only be done if we change the foundations of the economic system.

We need to shift away from the rule of short term profit and towards sustainably planned democratic socialism. This is the best possible chance we have of saving the reef and the planet as we know it.
from the Socialist Party

Marx on profit

Marx on profit

ACTU 2015 Congress Policies Sat, 04 Jul 2015 01:20:17 +0000 ACTU 2015 Congress Policies
ACTU 2015 Congress: Class struggle?
Ged ACTU Congress 2015

ACTU Congress 2015 is the presentation of many union campaigns and issues and the conclusion of ACTU Policy and the passing of resolutions that are worth supporting. (see my last blog for draft policies).
CPSU strike delegates

I was reporting during the Congress week for Radio 3CR breakfast programmes and with Annie Mcloughlin 3CR reporter- see photo.(Please make a donation to 3CR –
Annie 3CR
Listen here for ACTU guest US economist Professor Robert B Riech on the importance of unions in reducing inequality; then Chris White gives a roundup of the ACTU Congress.
By Skype, Professor Reich was Secretary of Labor under the Presidency of Bill Clinton, and in the documentary, Inequality for All. He said to the 1,000 union delegates do not follow the US model of capitalism that means inequality.

One strike campaign reported and supported is the CPSU led by Secretary Nadine Flood in their Collective Bargaining battle with the Abbott government.
Since Congress mass CPSU actions are strong, still a long way to go, but with unions and community offering solidarity.
Here is one report of the Canberra CPSU mass stop-work meeting
Nadine Flood CPSU

How to implement these ACTU 2915 policies nationally is the challenge.

How to unite unions more closely across the labour movement to campaign successfully.

I encourage unionists and left political activists to work hard in workplaces and in the community to implement these policies and that the class struggle can be developed.

Unions are the union members. With union campaigning with these policies, we have the capacity to defeat Abbott at the next election. How to apply the Congress solidarity across the Australian working class.

Importantly unions know and the ACTU leadership recognises that with an ALP government the union campaigning must continue to apply pressure and to achieve our aims, unlike what happened after the victorious YR@W campaign when the ACTU dropped the campaigning.

This blog has many posts on the right to strike. I post first the 2015 policy where at the union forum there was considerable good debate to stiffen up the policy, to improve the draft based on the Reith Workplace Relations period, to a stronger more effective strike policy. Please circulate this to union and community activists.

Right to strike
Congress affirms that all workers must have the right to take industrial action. No worker or union should be threatened with coercive or punitive orders from a Court as a consequence of exercising their right to strike or engaging in legitimate political protest.
Congress notes that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has described the Fair Work Act’s processes for regulating access to protected industrial action as ‘excessive’.
Legally protected industrial action should be available to workers seeking a collective agreement, without the necessity for a secret ballot or without the condition that bargaining has commenced.
Irrespective of whether unions utilise internal processes, a ballot agent or choose to avail themselves of ballot processes administered by the FWC or the Australian Electoral Commission, there should be no role for employers other than a positive obligation of non- interference.

The Fair Work Act should make it clear that duly authorised industrial action continues to be authorised and available to all union members irrespective of changes in the size or composition of the workforce seeking to be covered by an agreement.

Congress notes that workers are unduly prejudiced by lockouts and that it is not a legitimate function of industrial relations law to provide employers with legal rights to combat worker collectivism and solidarity. The Fair Work Act should therefore prohibit employer lockouts.

Michael O'Connor CFMEUIn line with ILO recommendation 188, international best practice and previous Congress policy, employers should not be permitted to engage replacement labour during periods of protected industrial action.

strike as a last resort

strike as a last resort

The right to take protected industrial action should not be subject to administrative interference other than in the exceptional circumstances of:
a) Threats to life, personal safety or health, or the welfare, of the population or part of it; or
b) Significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it.
Engaging in bargaining in sectors or across an industry should not diminish the right to take protected industrial action.
There should be no power to a Minister to terminate protected action. Orders to stop or prevent unprotected industrial action must be the domain of the Fair Work Commission in the first instance and the Fair Work Commission must have discretion as to whether it issues those orders.
Congress calls for loopholes that permit employers to coerce workers to stop or cease exercising their rights to take protected action to be closed. In particular, employers should be bound to make full or proportional payments for work performed in the event of protected action constituted by partial work bans. Further, employers should be prohibited from using codes of conduct to threaten or limit workers from taking protected action.
Congress notes that Australia’s secondary boycott provisions do not conform with the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention of the ILO (Convention No. 87).

Congress also notes that Australia’s current industrial relations laws do not provide a proper framework for resolving disputes involving secondary boycotts.
Luke Hilakari VTHC
Congress calls for the removal of the secondary boycott provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Congress notes the breadth of issues working Australians face and calls for the right for all workers to take industrial action in support of broader industrial, economic and political objectives.

Congress recognises that government and public sector employees are members of the Australian community and should have the same rights to participate in political and union activity as other workers.

I urge the circulation of the above ACTU policy to union delegates to campaign for the right to strike.

What was not debated is workers’ control, but I see this interesting article on the Whyally Glove factory occupation

And here on Green Bans, now unlawful under our law
Now I move to a recording of some speeches and resolutions, here my selection.
Ged Kearney

On Day one popular ACTU President Ged Kearney who was reelected welcomed the 1,000 delegates,
you can read her opening address here

Congress opening

She ended: ”I urge every one of you to think beyond your own workplaces and even your own unions. Think about what good public policy means and what a broader, progressive agenda requires of us as a movement because I ask you delegates, “If not us, who?”
The ACTU Congress is never only about listening to speakers and participating in policy discussions.
I want you to come out of this Congress motivated for the fight ahead, proud of the movement you belong to, and informed about our strategies to build a better future.
And think about the responsibility you have to your fellow members as a delegate at this Congress, and what you will want to report back to your unions and what new knowledge you will have to share.

Make the most of every opportunity you have to connect with members from unions other than your own – whether you are a truckie, a teacher, a wharfie, or a plumber, whether you work in an aluminium smelter, an aged care facility, a poultry factory, a call centre or an iron ore mine – we are all part of the same movement with the same common goals. Congress is about about forming relationships and networks and building a common sense of purpose.”

Ged Kearney urged unionists to campaign for a Union Charter not only building on the widespread dissatisfaction with the Abbott government’s actions against working families, but also what workers need – these are in the Charter and policies and in summary includes:

Workers’ Rights…Unions will defend the rights at work, wages and conditions that have been won by generations of unionists, and we will extend them by campaigning for secure jobs and for better protection for those in insecure work. And that includes minimum wages and penalty rates.

Universal healthcare…the state of a person’s health should not depend on the size of their bank balance. We will campaign against fees for doctors’ visits and for better funding for hospitals, medical services and aged care.

The highest quality education…
from pre-school through to tertiary education, the best education must be available to all Australians if we are to prosper as a nation. We will campaign for improved resourcing to early childhood education, equitable funding to schools, the restoration of TAFE and access to university for Australians from all backgrounds. There must never be American-style $100,000 university degrees in this country.

Public services must be owned by everyone for the benefit of everyone…
the experiment of privatisation has been a dismal failure, characterised by higher prices, poorer services, and massive job losses. The only people who have benefitted have been multinational companies and merchant bankers; no-one believes the spin any more. The public deserves a basic level of services, and these cannot be run by a shoestring workforce.

A Secure Retirement…
unions led the way in campaigning for universal superannuation for all, not just an elite few, and we will continue to advocate for decent pensions and superannuation so all Australians can retire with dignity. The Superannuation Guarantee must be raised and the Low Income Superannuation Contribution Scheme restored.
 Abbott’s attack on unions and superannuation has to be defeated. See

A Fair Go For All
the government’s top priority must always be to ensure that there are resources to support industries and economic growth that delivers high skilled jobs in a diverse economy. An economy where no-one is left behind and everyone who needs support can find it. This requires everyone to contribute their fair share of tax, and that must include big business, multinational companies and the very wealthy, who have become very adept at minimising or avoiding tax.

The Financial Transactions Tax – so-called Robin Hood Tax – is one new source of revenue that is supported.
What we are up against is the campaigns from our corporate rich
Dave Oliver, re-elected as Secretary, announced I consider a most important union development.
Dave Oliver Bust the Budget
“Unions have learnt from the significant mistake they made when they dismantled the landmark Your Rights At Work campaign after Labor won the 2007 election. That by abandoning Your Rights at Work (YRAW), the unions went overnight from being a campaigning movement to a transactional movement.

That is why the plan we are putting forward at this Congress is not only about building our campaign capacity, it’s about keeping it. We will not make that mistake again.”

The thousand union delegates voted for an extra $2 levy raising $13 million to transform the ACTU into a permanent campaigning organisation.
Dave Oliver presented the plan to target around 30 marginal seats across the country with grass roots campaigning to be coordinated by 20 new staff employed by the ACTU.

“They are notionally based in marginal seats, but we want a mobile and nimble nation-wide campaigning team. After the election, the ACTU campaign team aims to achieve key advancements for working people such as secure jobs and portable entitlements.”

New ACTU campaigns director and Vice-President Sally McManus (Sally McManus is from the ASU and the leader for the winning equal pay campaign for social welfare workers) told the Congress that to remove the Abbott Government, Labor would have to win 22 seats, with the union campaign playing a critically important role. She said it was a mistake dismantling the YRAW infrastructure. Unions will build and maintain “a permanent campaign force on the ground and online. Imagine having a team of experienced campaigners who can be deployed when and where the union movement needs them.”

In the ACTU poll in six Coalition-held marginals there was a primary vote swing of between 2% and 4% against the sitting Coalition MP, but in most cases voters had switched to the Greens or the undecided column rather than to Labor and showing as in other polls for most of Abbott’s term around 52% to 48% on two-party-preferred terms.

Can unions take up the challenges of the solidarity amongst all the delegates to be spread to millions of unionists at work so that the ACTU can be effective over the next three years to have a working class strategy?

What is required is a fighting union movement that empowers workers not only to rebuff politically the corporate agenda of Abbott by voting them out, not only to reverse the cuts and anti-working class corporate policies, but to convince the next Labor Government and may well be Bill Shorten PM and convince Parliament to pass stronger laws guaranteeing workers’ rights and deliver all the required policies for working families.
Answer it depends. We shall see.

Bill Shorten, ALP Opposition leader, gave an upbeat speech and received a standing ovation.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Borowick

Michael Borowick Assistant Secretary was reelected and stressed the importance of core health and safety prevention programmes as a must, union elected health &safety representatives critical and with stronger penalties, such as industrial manslaughter. Stronger and reformed workers compensation systems are necessary. See below for extensive policies.
ACTU showed videos of commemoration services and the aftermath of families where the father is killed at work and the widow talks about it. Speak Up, Stand Up, Come Home campaign is powerful. Watch the video here

Workers have to have immediate right of entry for their union OHS organisers to inspect workplaces.

Unions will campaign to have a much improved workers compensation system, where injured workers’ benefits have been reduced by State governments – see policies below. There are still many issues with asbestos at work and in the community (Mr Fluffy in Canberra).

The TWU Safe Rates campaign is supported and still on-going to stop the Abbott government from dismantling the recently developed reforms.
Unions should run “radical” campaigns including sit-ins and blocking roads to “misbehave” and hold corporate power to account, Transport Workers Union (TWU) NSW secretary Michael Aird. The move to enterprise bargaining in the early 1990s and continued in the Fair Work Act had “broken down our solidarity. All the great union campaigns are not enterprise campaigns – they are radical, or fought large. Aird cited United Voice’s ‘Big Steps’ childcare campaign, the equal pay campaign, nurse-to-patient ratios, the TWU’s ‘Safe Rates’ and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union campaign to lift employment conditions for outworkers.The union movement “needs to think more about being radical … our members are up for it, they understand it. Let’s have sit-ins, let’s block the roads. Let’s take on corporate power. Let’s hold power to account.”

White ribbon affirmation by male delegates was strong.ACTU_White_Ribbon_web
Australian of the Year Rosie Batty made a special appearance and endorsed the ACTU’s push for domestic violence clauses with two weeks paid leave for victims of domestic violence as a minimum standard.

Complementing Rosie was veteran MUA leader Mick Doleman’s inspiring speech on White Ribbon.
“Domestic Violence isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a men’s issue. We are the perpetrators and as such, we are the ones who have to lead.”
Secretary Oliver then lead the men in the room in taking the White Ribbon pledge.

Development of union women activists, as union delegates, and in leadership positions is a priority. See policies below.
Unions lack equal representation of women at top: report More women hold office at the top of unions than ever before but women are still short of equal representation, holding just 40% of senior positions, according to a report by University of Sydney Associate Professor Dr Rae Cooper presented a summary of her report into women in unions.
The report showed in women held 39% of secretary positions of 21 unions surveyed in 2014, up from 30% in 2010 and 23% in 1999.
Women held 40% of all leadership positions (secretaries, presidents, vice presidents and assistant secretaries), up from 37% in 2010 and 28% in 1999.

But by some measures women’s representation had declined, eg their share of delegates at ACTU Congress had fallen from 49% in a 2010 survey to 38% in the 2014 survey. Women were more than half the unions’ employees in fields including campaigns (71%), support staff (66%), communications (60%) and organisers (60%), but were less than half in industrial positions (46%) and as directors (42%).

Defending superannuation industry funds being dismantled by Abbott – here is the ideological latest attack
ACTU is campaigning to increase superannuation and as well interestingly a claim to be argued for women to receive an extra 2% because of past discrimination.

See arguments here

Save our Stories – from MEAA
That this meeting of the ACTU national congress commit our support to the MEAA’s campaign to defend the existing 420 subclass entertainment visa system. The current system has served the Australian entertainment and screen industry well for more than 25 year, incorporating appropriate:
•labour-market testing mechanisms including union consultation;
•requirements for the attraction of the foreign investment as a condition of entry;
•guarantees of leading and support roles for local performers on tax-payer subsidised screen production; and
•commitments for local technicians and crew to work at all levels of a feature film.
In an industry characterised by an oversupply of talented performers and crew, and high exposure to the fluctuations in global markets and the Australian dollar, we cannot afford to further limit opportunities for local technicians and crew to work, grown their skill set, and participate in the telling of local stories. We pledge our support to MEAA’s campaign – #saveourstories – and commend the support of the Federal opposition and cross-bench Senators and MPs to date.

MUA defence of Australian seafarers to be employed is supported.
Mick Doleman took a lead in presenting the MUA’s motion on Coastal Shipping, which was passed unanimously and seconded by the AMOU’s Jan Thompson.
“People would be outraged if the Government proposed to import truck drivers from developing countries and let them be paid $2 an hour for endless shifts with basically no rights, working in a truck with substandard safety with all tax being paid to another country.Well that’s what the Government is trying to do to shipping and the buck won’t stop there. Just this week the Government announced its intention to unravel Cabotage in the airline industry.”
FOC threaten jobs
Dean Summers
, who is a party to the inquest, said: “Four Corners highlighted the high cost of cheap shipping. We need a senate Inquiry to investigate the real dangers of flag of convenience shipping, as it poses a real and serious threat to Australia’s national security, environment and fuel security, as well to the lives and welfare of international seafarers.

Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders are supported by unions against all the Abbott government attacks. Congress supports Constitutional recognition. ACTU Congress condemns the erosion of Native Title rights for Indigenous Australians since the High Court ruled in the Mabo case that the application of Terra Nullius by Captain James Cooke in Australia was false.
ACTU Congress notes the Indigenous Leaders Round Table Meeting on Property Rights convened by the Australian Human Rights Commissioner in Broome on Tuesday 19 May and Wednesday 20 May 2015 and supports the recommendation made to Government by those Indigenous Leaders for regional conferences to be held across Australia to maximise the input from Indigenous Australians.
The ACTU Congress resolves to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, of which thousands are trade union members, against the further erosion of Native Title and urges that Land Tenure discussions have an oversight by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples that ensures any proposal from the Australian Government meets international standards developed on Human Rights processes in the United Nations.
The ACTU Congress encourages the above towards a National Social Compact that brings into focus the developments in the area of Human Rights, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the I.L.O. Convention 169 and a host of other Human Rights instruments in any further amendments to Land Tenure Legislation. Moved: Thomas Mayor (MUA) Seconded: Arthur Rorris SNSW TLC
Thomas Mayor MUA NT
Thomas Mayor
Hugely powerful video of courageous young indigenous woman confronting stereotypes bought tears to ACTU delegates. Please share. ‪#‎actu2015‬‬‬‬ Racism – it stops with me. ACTU supports Human Rights Commission.

The ACTU Congress:
Congratulates the Muckaty Traditional Owners and their supporters for sustained and successful efforts in defence of their community, culture and country.
Notes and welcomes the decision of the federal government to not further pursue the contested site at Muckaty for a national radioactive waste management facility.
Calls for full transparency, public input and best practice technical and consultative standards during the current revised site nomination and selection process, scheduled to conclude by mid-2016.
Expresses concern at the Federal Government’s continuing commitment to finding a single remote site for radioactive waste to be disposed (low level) and stored (intermediate level) to the evident exclusion of other waste management options.
Reaffirms its support for a broad independent inquiry that examines all options for radioactive waste transport, storage and management.
Commits to supporting both communities opposing the nomination of their lands or region for a dump site, and any workers who refuse to facilitate the construction and operation or transport and handling of radioactive waste materials destined for any contested facility or sites.
Moved: Paul McAleer, MUA Seconded: Peter Simpson, ETU

ACTU Congress is supporting Asylum Seekers. Workers of the world unite.

1. Australia’s policies towards asylum seekers and refugees should, at all times, reflect respect and decency, consistent with Australia building a society that is a tolerant, compassionate and multicultural nation and in recognition of the role refugees and other migrants from all over the world have contributed to our country. Congress calls on Australian Parliamentarians to pursue a refugee policy that re-establishes Australia’s reputation as a welcoming and humane society.
2. Congress recognises refugees and asylum seekers are among the world’s most vulnerable people. As a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, Australia has an obligation to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees arriving in Australia, regardless of the manner in which they arrived and the country of origin. Under international human rights law, asylum seekers arriving by boat are not illegal and Australia is required to ensure that claims of people seeking protection are assessed in accordance with the United Nations (UN) Refugee Convention. Congress calls upon the Government to ensure that there is no discrimination in the processing of application for asylum based on the mode of arrival.
3. Congress recognises that seeking asylum is a fundamental human right. The current approach adopted by Australia focuses on deterrence and reflects a xenophobic fear of the outsider, based on judgement that we are entitled to our good fortune and have no obligations to share it with those less fortunate.
4. Congress reiterates that a refugee is someone who has fled their home country and is seeking protection. The process of assessing asylum claims in-country is standard practice. Australia has the capacity and international responsibility to take both refugees that arrive in Australia seeking asylum and those identified through the UN resettlement system. According to the UNHCR, Australia receives fewer applications than comparable industrialised countries. Among the industrialised countries, Australia ranks 19, i.e. 18 other industrialised countries have a higher share of asylum applications than Australia. ACTU Congress reaffirms that Australia should increase its intake of refugees to meet the levels received by other industrialised countries.
5. Congress calls on Australian Parliamentarians to take leadership and to reframe the national debate about refugees and asylum seekers, explaining that the majority of people who have entered Australia by boat seeking asylum have been found to need protection from persecution, and therefore the vulnerability of asylum seekers must be a primary consideration in any government response to people movement.

Can unions survive in the new digital economy? The decline of traditional employment relationships due to digital disruption and globalisation has led to a ‘trickle up’ effect in wealth, according to Dave Oliver.The ‘liquid workforce’ created by digital platforms like Uber and Freelancer was contributing to insecure work. Working on these platforms was akin to ‘zero hours contracts’ because they encouraged “a reverse auction where the lowest bidder wins and the worker loses. Oliver warned of the emergence of “monolithic empires” such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple which he said “contributed to the rise in inequality”.
He compared Sony, the $18bn technology business, with Snapchat, the $19bn app-based photo sharing service. Sony, he said, had “10,000s of employees” compared to Snapchat which could “fit its entire operation under this one roof”, of just 1,000 ACTU delegates. Digital disruption and globalisation were combining to cause a ‘trickle up’ effect – “more money at the top, less at the bottom, and income not being distributed fairly. Australia was now “11th most unequal of 34 OECD members.

A key issue from Dave Oliver is his report on union governance and refutation of the Royal Commission into so-called Union Corruption. I can assure readers unions are not corrupt and have good to best practice accountability.

Now I list more from my selection of important issues.

1. APHEDA: Union Aid Abroad was prominent and please join and support the aid programmes.
A most interesting history book of APHEDA was launched by Gareth Evans and with new APHEDA director Kate Lee and founder Dr Helen McCue.
APHEDA book with Kate Lee
I recommend you buy a copy of “Livelihoods and Liberation Struggles. 30 Years of Australian Worker Solidarity.” by Danni Cooper.
APHEDA launch
2. International guests
Speakers from and support for their struggles Bangladesh Amirul Haque Amin, President, National Trade Union Federation of Garment and Textile Workers in Bangladesh, about the deplorable working conditions in his country, see TCFUA campaign in solidarity.
Cambodia Sar Mora, President of the Cambodian Food and Services Workers Federation,
PNG Daniel Mathew, Organiser at the PNG Maritime and Transport workers Union
International guests ACTU
From Timor Leste KSTL Almerio Villa Nova General Workers Union was present.

Almerio Villa Nova and Chris White

Almerio Villa Nova and Chris White

Congress supportsTimor Leste in their oil/gas negotiations with the Australian government for a fair sea boundaries. Timor Leste is very poor. Congress recognises that the people and government of Timor Leste are still seeking justice in a fair division of resources in the Timor Sea in the Greater Sunrise Oilfields. Congress calls on the Australian Government to:1: Acknowledge its unlawful and unjust claim to a continental shelf boundary north of the median line between Australia and Timor Leste and adhere to the principles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea impartially and fairly; and 2: Commence immediate negotiations to settle the eastern and western boundaries of the Timor Gap between Australia, Timor Leste and Indonesia. Mover: Paul McAleer, MUA Seconded: Rita Mallia, CFMEU

3. Building Commission Left and right unions combine to condemn the prosecution of hundreds of individual construction workers by Tony Abbott’s building commission.
Scott McDivine AWU
These workers are accused of taking industrial action to defend apprenticeships, local labour, safety, wages conditions and union representation. The building commission has chosen to prosecute these workers as individuals in order to intimidate all construction workers and refuses to enforce the law against employers who steal workers wages and entitlements or engage in sham contracting and Phoenix company arrangements.
CFMEU Dave Noonan, Scott McDivine AWU should have building watchdog-police force for employers and their exploitative practices.

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC


ACTU Congress declares its full support for Commonwealth public sector workers, under attack by the Abbott Government through jobs cuts, outsourcing and attacks on rights and real wages in bargaining.

ACTU Congress recognises the work of the Community and Public Sector Union and other Commonwealth public sector unions in defending workers against the Abbott Government’s attacks.
Congress notes the vital role of public sector workers in supporting families, communities and businesses across our country through the delivery of programs and services we all rely on.

Congress condemns the Coalition’s attacks on the Commonwealth public sector including:
• More than 17,000 jobs cut since the Federal Election;
• Budget funding cuts to the CSIRO, Tax Office and ABC;
• $80b cuts to health and education; and
• A whole of Government program of outsourcing and privatisation, with proposals to outsource Medicare payments and other functions.

Congress further condemns Government for attacking the rights, conditions and real wages of 160,000 Commonwealth workers in bargaining, noting these workers are already under pressure from deep job cuts.
Congress notes that Government bargaining policy driven by Minister Eric Abetz, requires 116 Commonwealth agencies to put forward draconian offers including stripping existing rights out of enterprise agreements, cutting conditions, pay offers of 0-1.5% per annum and attacks on workers’ right to be represented by a union.

Congress notes that 12 months after the expiry of 116 Commonwealth agreements, workers have overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s harsh agenda, including 95% of staff in Minister Abetz’s own Department, not a single agreement has been reached and Government faces the largest round of Commonwealth industrial action in 30 years.

Despite this, the Government remains intransigent, refusing to allow agencies to genuinely negotiate and with Minister Abetz refusing to meet the CPSU to discuss bargaining since January 2014, while making repeated public attacks on CPSU and the Government attacking public sector workers, such as in the paid parental leave debate.

Congress resolves to support these workers in their fight to protect their jobs, rights and living standards and the public services that our community relies on. ACTU supports the Safeguard campaign, and encourages affiliates to mobilise support through the union movement to protect these workers.

5. ACTU push is to extend the paid parental leave scheme from 18 to 26 weeks and pursue full income replacement, in a clear rejection of the Abbott Government’s winding back of the scheme in the Budget a fortnight ago.
Congress endorsed a mandated top-up of the government scheme to full wage replacement to ensure a co-contribution from employers.
Scheme designed to complement employer payments – see Policies below.

The government is legislating against mothers who have access to both the taxpayer and employer funded schemes as “double-dippers” and will bank almost $1 billion in savings from the newly restricted scheme. But unions argue the government scheme was only ever designed to complement employer schemes with the goal of full income replacement.

6. Precarious work. See details in the policies. ACTU Congress Calls for Action on Labour Hire and Coordinate a National System of Licensing, Regulation. Congress believes secure and permanent work is the preferred model of employment. The union movement opposes the growth of casual, temporary labour hire. Such arrangements avoid employer obligations and deny workers the rights direct employees have.

7. Training is union business – Abbott Government attacks on the role of unions in the national training system leave no voice for workers.

8.Extra pressure on the Federal Government to protect Australian jobs and stop exploitation as official figues indicate that about 10 per cent of workers are now in this country are on a variety of temporary work visas.Support for Ship Building campaign.
A fresh focus on how we can improve the job security and conditions of members in at a time of massive disruption of markets, businesses and supply chains due to digital technology.

9.TPP resolution: Trans Pacific Partnership TPP – 3cr reports on this only because of the details in Wikileaks.
Arthur Rorris

Agreed at the ACTU Congress Kevin Bracken MUA Victoria and Arthur Rorris South West Trades and Labour Council that all unions are calling for Abbott to release the TPP for Parliament and public debate; END TO SECRECY. We know its all about more dominance by corporations. Multi-nationals want to have their interests override our Australian standards, that undermines our sovereignty. We are supposed to be independent. This is a big battle in US as 600 of their top companies want them but are facing huge opposition; so, is the campaign building in the pacific nations; we all want our workers rights to be protected; our environmental protection; our health standards etc The campaign against the TPP is hotting up.


Earlier at The Unions-Communities Roundtable on TPP at the ACTU Conference Fringe Event, attended by nearly 100 participants, including ACTU union delegates and representatives from Choice, Get Up, Friends of the Earth, Spirit of Eureka, Western Suburbs Unions and Communities, AFTINET, Lawyers Alliance, Stop TPP Australia, and others. Strong speeches by Greens Senator Peter Whish Wilson,Andrew Dettmar, Pat Ranald and Sam Castro and others. Unanimously passed motion calling on the government to release the secretive TPP text or withdraw from negotiations immediately.

Andrew Dettmar
MUA rally held later


10. AWU Reserve Domestic Gas campaign: we export our gas but we are the only country that as a result does not keep the price of gas consumed by Australians low, down—website

THE union movement has thrown its support behind the Australian Workers’ Union Reserve Our Gas campaign for a domestic gas reservation policy. AWU National Secretary Scott McDine described the absence of an Australian reservation policy as “a fundamental injustice and a fundamental betrayal of ordinary working Australians”. Australian gas prices are set to explode. Why are gas prices about to explode? The impact on your household budget The impact on Australian jobs

11. FIFA Red Card: 2015 ACTU Congress is in support of construction workers in Qatar. Horrific stories of slave-like conditions have emerged in the lead up to 2018 FIFA World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world. Dave Noonan, CFMEU Construction & General National Secretary, spoke in support of the motion, stating that ‘the beautiful game is built on the blood, sweat and tears of exploited migrant workers.’ Mr Noonan recently visited a worker camp in Qatar with Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, and was stunned by the living conditions. Congress delegates gave FIFA a ‘red card’ to protest corruption and exploitation. photo

12. This ACTU Congress notes that the federal government has initiated a heartless attack on Commonwealth Cleaners. The removal of the Commonwealth Cleaning Guidelines has ripped wages and job security away from the cleaners of Commonwealth buildings. …cleaners in Julie Bishop’s department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have experienced a $6000 a year pay cut. United Voice delegate: “Couldn’t pay me enough to clean up Abbott’s mess.”
Story on cleaners strike action

13. Other strong policies on the environment and global warming;better schools education funding and campaigning still for Gonski funding; for an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC);campaign against Chevron;and many detailed provisions to increase the social wage.

Vintage Reds Canberrajpg

RUM As I am retired, I am welcome at the ACTU retired members booth.


I make some concluding observations from an observer.

1.Unions are strong and defending members well in their own sectors, in their own industries and occupations and we are capable of effective mass union campaigns in the community with quality community unionism organising, but the question is how can the ACTU be more a class struggle force, to unite the working class for radical change.

2. The ACTU is not a socialist party (despite historically socialism is in the objective) so there are no militant anti-capitalist speeches with strategies for socialist actions, although the programmes are linked to workers needs. Gone are the “good old days” at Congresses in the 70s to 90s with strong real battles between the “communist” unions and the “anti-communists” and all those in between and gone when votes are taken and struggles conducted inside left and right factions. There were no inspirational speeches by Union leaders, and only a few from delegates.

3. Not all unions are affiliated to the ALP, but nevertheless most unions are still committed to an ALP Government, wrongly in my view due to recent failures of the Rudd/Gillard government and ALP support for neo-liberal economics. An ALP government supports the corporate masters and fails to deliver for the working class. Unions – except for two I know of – do not support The Greens, that I consider a mistake.

4. I did not see any deep analysis of the different era we are in since the capitalist crisis from 2008 and the continuing corporate and right-wing austerity and neo-fascist like restrictions against citizens. Unions are yet to forge a fighting left class alternative to our capitalist system.

4. As an observer I was not aware at all of the problems behind the scenes. I agree with stage managing the presentation. But it is not a good Congress for reasons not known to me when the biggest union the ANF does not pay its dues and did not vote, not why some from the right AWU and left RTBU abstained from supporting the levy, nor of the debates that had recently occurred when former Assistant Secretary Tim Lyons announced a failed bid to challenge Dave Oliver.

5. The ACTU continues with its Organising Works programme (and at the UTLC of SA I was fully supportive), but the same policies that have only worked to an extent as the union growth in numbers has stabilised but not improved. I could not help but be concerned to hear no criticism of past ACTU OW. For example, it is clear that an effective winning strike can be central to recruiting and holding members, such as the current CPSU struggle, yet union training unionists to win protected action let alone unprotected action is not central to union training and has to be remedied.

6. One of my key political priorities that of peace and not war, highlighted on many occasions on this blog was not mentioned; no resolution to kick out the US marines in Darwin nor for an independent and peaceful foreign policy. Peace should be union business. More can be made by unions to resist the Abbott government relying on fears of war and terror. But maybe this ACTU Congress focus on bread and butter issues for working class families is sufficient.

Test these following union policies by debating the issues. I reproduce one section here and other policies not covered here but I urge a reading.

Workers’ Rights policies
Minimum wage
Australia has had the biggest drop in the minimum wage as a percentage of the average wage of any OECD country between 2003 and 2013. Congress is committed to raising the National Minimum Wage to reduce the ever increasing gap between the minimum wage and the average full-time wage.

Read the strong policy to protect penalty rates.

Right to strike

Right to strike

Congress acknowledges that some of the most vulnerable employees rely on penalty rates to make ends meet. These employees include the low paid, casual workers, women and those in regional and rural areas. Many employees who receive penalty rates are also dependent upon minimum pay rates or work part-time, and penalty rates are a vital component of their income. Congress resolves to continue to vigorously oppose any attempts to reduce penalty rates in the minimum safety net.
see details and includes Congress notes that the Fair Work Act has not been successful in stamping out exploitative individual agreements and that there are some parallels between the uses of WorkChoices era AWAs and Fair Work Act Individual Flexibility Arrangements. Affiliates will defend the integrity of the safety net against these practices and will campaign for the abolition of individual flexibility arrangements.

Unions to campaign for improved Unfair Dismissal provisions.

SECURITY OF ENTITLEMENTS 26. Congress believes that no employee should be left short-changed when their employer becomes insolvent. The ACTU and Unions will continue to advocate for reforms to the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, the Corporations Act and the Fair Work Act. Please read details.
Improving the Bargaining system involves 2 Modernising:
Congress notes that imposing restrictions on the content of collective agreements is inconsistent with international obligations and in particular article 4 of the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention and article 3 of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention.
Congress is firmly of the view that there is no place in our industrial relations laws for restrictions on the content of collective agreements.
Workers should be free to make a judgment on the merits of the matters they seek to protect and the interests they seek to advance when bargaining with their employer. This assists in accommodating the changing needs and circumstances of different types of businesses, employment relationships, workers and communities.
In particular, Congress is concerned to ensure collective agreements (or other collective instruments and enforceable arrangements) can cover labour hire workers who are economically dependent servants and agents of an entity or host employer with which they have no “employment relationship” for any “matter” to “pertain to”. At a minimum, agreements should apply to work performed at the workplace rather than to specific employers in a labour supply chain.
Congress calls for the removal of the requirement that bargaining be restricted to matters pertaining to the employment relationship in order to ensure that the industrial relations system is relevant, responsive and fair.
Congress opposes any restrictions on agreement content which prevent workers and employers from freely agreeing to improve upon the statutory schemes for unfair dismissal and entry by union representatives.
WSN  Right To Strike flyler - front page - FINAL

Congress notes that the Fair Work Act’s primary focus is on enterprise level bargaining and does not adequately support bargaining across sectors or industries.

Failure to negotiate on a sectoral or industry wide basis limits outcomes of bargaining to specific enterprises and does not assist with industry-wide improvements including skills development, training and apprenticeships.
In particular, enterprise bargaining across an industry and/or through and within a supply chain is more reflective of the modern organisation of industries operating on the basis of joint production and joint employment. Further, individual agencies in the public sector do not generally have the powers of an independent enterprise but are subject to Government policy in relation to bargaining.

In many industries, enterprise-level bargaining can encourage competition based almost entirely on the capacity of a single enterprise to undercut industry standards and reduce labour costs which results in a “race to the bottom” and the exploitation of the most vulnerable workers rather than competition on the basis of productivity, service or quality.
Congress believes that workers have a right to organize and negotiate their terms and conditions of employment at the level which achieves the best outcomes for them, which allows them to bargain with the actual decision-maker for their enterprise, and which is efficient and delivers consistency in outcomes.

In particular, Congress advocates for law reform to address the joint employment nature of arrangements between host employer, labour hire provider and worker. The Fair Work Act should be amended to recognise that both labour hire operator and host employer have a role in observing workers’ rights and entitlements.

Congress calls for amendments to the Fair Work Act to facilitate and support parties negotiating arrangements which have industry-wide, sector-wide or supply chain impact. Once set by single or particular enterprise agreements or individual contracts it should not be possible to undercut and undermine these standards.
Congress supports the development of industry based councils which aim to collaboratively address the key issues facing both employers and employees and develop strategies to promote and progress the industry.
Congress believes legislation should require all employers and supply chain participants to be accountable to their workers, unions and the community on how their supply chains are structured and operated. This should extend to enforceable bargaining and to ensuring a transparent and public disclosure of supply chain arrangements with appropriate penalties for failure to do so.

On insecure work where not much progress across the board from Rudd/Gillard was made, the ACTU continues to campaign for:
1. a) The opportunity to convert insecure work into secure work, including labour hire employees having the right to convert to the “host” employer;
2. b) Minimum engagement protections;
3. c) Fair and predictable pay and hours of work;
4. d) A say about how, where, and when they work, and to be consulted about change;
5. e) Access to important conditions like annual leave, paid personal leave, overtime, penalty rates and long service leave;
6. f) Protection from unfair dismissal;
7. g) Quality skills, training and career opportunities;
8. h) Better protections to workers employed indirectly through labour hire and agency arrangements, including prohibiting these workers from being paid less than a relevant collective agreement;
9. i) Elimination of disguised employment arrangements like sham contracting;
10. j) A healthy and safe work environment;
11. k) No zero hour contracting; and
12. l) Measures that empower workers in insecure work to build a working life based on dignity, respect and fair recognition of their work.

12. Congress notes the substantial growth of labour hire agencies in recent years which currently constitutes a $19.3 billion industry comprising over 5400 entities. The lack of effective and proper regulation of the labour hire sector often encourages undercutting behaviour and exploitation of vulnerable workers. Many labour hire agencies are insufficiently capitalized and act as little more than conduits by which casual workers are deployed to a host employer as a means of reducing costs. The engagement of many labour hire agencies is symptomatic of an increasing shifting of risk from the host employer to the employee.
13. Many labour hire agencies ignore the provisions of industrial instruments and applicable laws by avoiding tax liability, and non-payment or underpayment of return to work premiums.
15. Congress supports the establishment of a comprehensive national scheme for the registration, licensing, accreditation and regulation of labour hire agencies.
16. Congress notes that this would not be a unique or radical move – throughout the OECD the UK, Canada, Korea, Japan, Germany, Austria, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal all operate licensing systems or codes of conduct that protect the rights and entitlements of labour hire employees.


13. All workers deserve access to an independent umpire that can resolve disputes in accordance with equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case.
14. Congress rejects the notion that workers should be subject to any prejudice in bargaining merely because of the industry in which they work, the level at which they choose to bargain or the economic power of their employer. Congress calls for the abolition of the Fair Work Building Commission, and any regulatory body or procurement guidelines which limit the rights workers have under the Fair Work Act. …
15. Congress believes that all agreements must meet a genuine ‘better off overall test’.

6. Consistent with the principle that parties should be free to determine the level at which they bargain, bargaining for multiple employer agreements and multi-agency public sector agreements should involve the same rights, processes and facilitation from the Fair Work Commission as applied to single employer agreements in all cases where:
a) there is agreement to bargain by the employers or government concerned; or
b) there is majority support from their collective workforce; subject only to a simple ‘public interest’ test.

Congress calls for the Fair Work Act to be maintained and improved to ensure that:
a) it continues to contain clear prohibitions on individual employers or employees opting out of a collective agreement;
b) collective agreements continue not to be permitted to cover only one employee; and
c) enterprise agreements are not able to be made with a small number of employees prior to the engagement of the rest of the workforce.
Congress regards the use of Individual Flexibility Clauses as inappropriate …

Congress notes that workers must be free to appoint their bargaining representatives. Affiliates are committed to working co-operatively in single bargaining units that represent the collective interests of employees.
To ensure equal access to collective bargaining for all workers, Congress calls for amendments to competition and consumer legislation to permit unrestricted union representation for independent contractors.
Congress affirms that in any bargaining process, workers have a right to be informed and represented …

Congress believes that the statutory good faith bargaining obligations should be seen as constituting substantive and not merely procedural obligations. The legislation should make clear that a party is not acting consistently with good faith bargaining obligations if the intention is to simply avoid the making of a collective agreement, regardless of its terms. …
Congress will lobby to strengthen the bargaining provisions of the Fair Work Act, including:
a) requiring employers to facilitate meetings of workers and union representatives nominated by the relevant union in paid time within 14 days of the notification time for the agreement;
b) requiring employers to disclose relevant and material information , including internal accounts, budgets and forecasts, to bargaining parties in a timely manner, while ensuring genuinely confidential information is treated appropriately;
c) requiring the principal decision maker of the employer or a direct delegated representative to participate in the bargaining process;
d) prohibiting employers from submitting an agreement to a vote until the bargaining representatives are agreed on a course or bargaining is at an impasse;
e) promotion of the expectation that bargaining parties should reach an agreement unless there are genuine reasons based on reasonable grounds not to do so;
f) the need for restorative and effective legal remedies against bad faith conduct, including non-compliance as a basis for objection to the approval of an agreement and good faith bargaining orders;
g) orders should be available to ensure that unions are able to contact and communicate with workers on sites; and
h) orders should be available to ensure that unions can hold paid meetings with workers during work time over the course of the bargain.

Congress notes in particular the systemic failure in the operation and proper application of the good faith bargaining framework and the inadequacy of existing mechanisms to provide for arbitration when employers refuse to enter into a collective agreement.
The current legislation allows large employers who are able to create significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it to access arbitration to resolve a dispute about bargaining, at the significant disadvantage of workers in smaller enterprises or with little bargaining power.
Congress advocates that the Fair Work Commission should be empowered to adopt an expansive approach to pro-actively facilitate bargaining parties in reaching agreement.
Where appropriate, the Fair Work Commission should initiate a form of supervised negotiation process and arbitration should be available where parties are assessed to be on a trajectory towards an intractable dispute, particularly where a party surface bargains or refuses to negotiate a collective agreement. Where parties are seeking their first agreement there should be more liberal access to arbitration conducted by the Fair Work Commission.
Congress recognises that public and government employees may require specific solutions to deal with intransigent employers and calls for the Fair Work Act to be amended to provide access to arbitration in public sector bargaining.

Congress notes the decision in Aurizon Operations Limited; Aurizon Network Pty Ltd; Australian Eastern Railroad Pty Ltd [2015] RWCFB 540 terminating 12 enterprise agreements covering over 6,000 QLD workers.
Congress is concerned by the Full Bench’s interpretation of s226 of the Fair Work Act which allows enterprise agreements to be terminated where to do so is not contrary to the public interest.
Congress condemns the interpretation of s226 by the Full Bench, including its reasoning that (a) collective bargaining is not a central object of the Act and (b) that it will be in the interest of employees and the employer if the business can enhance its competitive position…and compete more effectively for market opportunities” regardless of the employer’s existing profits, market share and competitiveness during the life of the agreements.
Congress notes that the employer involved in this decision earned $300 million in the 2013/14 financial year and held 70-75% market share while the agreements were in force.

Enterprise agreements allow employees and employers the freedom to make a judgement on the matters they seek to advance with reference to the needs and circumstances of an enterprise at the time. The sanctity of such agreements, nominally expired or otherwise, must be protected in all but the most limited of circumstances. …
…Congress affirms the need for good faith bargaining processes to apply equally to ‘greenfields’ agreements. Congress rejects assertions that there is a need for unique provisions for Greenfield sites, which are not supported by evidence. …

Congress notes that many workers are deterred from, or unable to enforce their agreement, NES and award rights because:
a) Modern award dispute resolution clauses provide that the Fair Work Commission cannot arbitrate a matter arising under the award or NES without the consent of both parties;
b) Workers cannot take protected industrial action over a dispute about an award or NES matter;
c) Seeking relief in a competent court for a breach of the award or NES is an expensive and time-consuming proposition, so is rarely taken by workers;
d) Not all agreements provide for the mandatory settlement of disputes about the application and operation of their agreement; and
e) The Fair Work Act prohibits workers from accessing the Fair Work Commission for assistance to deal with disputes about the reasonableness of an employer’s refusal to a request for flexible work arrangements to extend a period of unpaid parental leave at all.

Congress therefore asserts that the Fair Work Act does not provide ‘accessible and effective’ dispute resolution options for disputes about matters arising under agreements, awards or the NES.
Without recourse to arbitration for disputes about all agreement, award, NES and other work related matters, there is no way of guaranteeing the effective and on-going settlement of disputes about these matters.
Congress calls for amendments to the Fair Work Act to empower the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate disputes about these matters.

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn

Congress affirms that all workers must have the right to take industrial action. No worker or union should be threatened with coercive or punitive orders from a Court as a consequence of exercising their right to strike or engaging in legitimate political protest.
Congress notes that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has described the Fair Work Act’s processes for regulating access to protected industrial action as ‘excessive’.
Legally protected industrial action should be available to workers seeking a collective agreement, without the necessity for a secret ballot or without the condition that bargaining has commenced.
Irrespective of whether unions utilise internal processes, a ballot agent or choose to avail themselves of ballot processes administered by the FWC or the Australian Electoral Commission, there should be no role for employers other than a positive obligation of non- interference.
The Fair Work Act should make it clear that duly authorised industrial action continues to be authorised and available to all union members irrespective of changes in the size or composition of the workforce seeking to be covered by an agreement.
Congress notes that workers are unduly prejudiced by lockouts and that it is not a legitimate function of industrial relations law to provide employers with legal rights to combat worker collectivism and solidarity. The Fair Work Act should therefore prohibit employer lockouts.
In line with ILO recommendation 188, international best practice and previous Congress policy, employers should not be permitted to engage replacement labour during periods of protected industrial action.
The right to take protected industrial action should not be subject to administrative interference other than in the exceptional circumstances of:
a) Threats to life, personal safety or health, or the welfare, of the population or part of it; or
b) Significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it.
Engaging in bargaining in sectors or across an industry should not diminish the right to take protected industrial action.
There should be no power to a Minister to terminate protected action. Orders to stop or prevent unprotected industrial action must be the domain of the Fair Work Commission in the first instance and the Fair Work Commission must have discretion as to whether it issues those orders.

Congress calls for loopholes that permit employers to coerce workers to stop or cease exercising their rights to take protected action to be closed. In particular, employers should be bound to make full or proportional payments for work performed in the event of protected action constituted by partial work bans. Further, employers should be prohibited from using codes of conduct to threaten or limit workers from taking protected action.

joe hill

joe hill

Congress notes that Australia’s secondary boycott provisions do not conform with the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention of the ILO (Convention No. 87).
Congress also notes that Australia’s current industrial relations laws do not provide a proper framework for resolving disputes involving secondary boycotts.

Congress calls for the removal of the secondary boycott provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
Congress notes the breadth of issues working Australians face and calls for the right for all workers to take industrial action in support of broader industrial, economic and political objectives.
Congress recognises that government and public sector employees are members of the Australian community and should have the same rights to participate in political and union activity as other workers.


strike as a last resort

strike as a last resort

Congress reaffirms the importance of working people to access independent information, advice and representation.
The right of entry provisions of the FW Act must provide a legal right to access workers at workplaces and place a positive obligation on employers and occupiers of premises to:

. a) Facilitate entry of union officials to all areas of the workplace subject to no unreasonable disruptions of work, safety or privacy concerns;
. b) Facilitate union officials to hold discussions with workers where the workers choose to congregate, such as the lunch room, canteen or tea room;
. c) Continue to require the employer to facilitate transport and accommodation for permit holders where the workplace is in a remote location and provide for workers to have appropriate and timely access to the permit holders on site;
. d) Notify their workforce when union officials will be on site and where they will be located;
. e) Inform workers that they have a right to participate in discussions with the union official;
. f) Provide a private room for discussions where this is requested by employee(s) or the union;
. g) Ensure that any discussions between workers and unions are not subject to any form of intimidation, surveillance, monitoring or any behaviour which might dissuade a worker from choosing to engage with a union official;
. h) Ensure workers have the opportunity to speak to their Union officials without fear, particularly as they first enter the workplace;
. i) Allow union delegates the right to participate in union officials visits to the workplace; and
j) Ensure employee access to advice, information and union representation at work, including the provision of periodic paid union meetings at the workplace.

Further, Congress affirms that the right of entry provisions of the Act must:
. a) Prohibit employers from requiring, directly or indirectly, that workers seek permission or identify themselves to the employer before accessing a union official who is on the premises;
. b) Ensure that unions have a right to enter and inspect records relating to suspected contraventions affecting former, as well as current, workers;
. c) Not require the giving of notice to access documents relevant to the investigation of workplace safety, irrespective of the class of documents that might be required in the course of that investigation; and
. d) Not require 24 hours’ notice for access to worksites as this restricts employees ability to access information and representation from their union.

Congress will lobby to ensure that industrial parties are free to bargain about right of entry arrangements. Congress considers that allowing parties to freely bargain about right of entry will result in cooperative and productive workplace relations.

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

The role and responsibilities of union delegates should be supported in enshrined legal rights which:
. a) Recognise the role of union delegates in the workplace;
. b) Recognise union delegates rights to actively represent union members, including by being participants and advocates in any workplace matter;
. c) Recognise union delegates rights to communicate with employees, particularly new employees and give them the choice of being represented by the union;
. d) Provide delegates reasonable paid time at work to perform their role;
. e) Provide delegates reasonable paid time to represent union members at union forums and industrial tribunals;
. f) Provide paid training for union delegates; and
. g) Provide union delegates access to facilities at the workplace to perform their role.
Union delegates are the elected or appointed representatives of workers in their workplace. Congress will lobby to ensure that industrial parties remain free to bargain about their role, responsibilities and workplace rights over and above any legislated minimum.

yraw voting-badge

yraw voting-badge

Honourary Officials must be allowed paid time off work to fulfil their duties as Officers

Actively represent union members, including by being participants an advocates in any workplace matter.

Congress supports the involvement of workers in decision making processes at the workplace which impact on the work they do and how it is performed and considers this contributes to better workplaces. Congress calls for legislated minimum standards for workers to be genuinely consulted about issues of significance or potential changes to their work prior to final decisions being made.
Congress supports the provision of information to workers about their workplace rights. The current “Fair Work information Statement” should ensure workers are informed about their right to join a union. Employers should provide new workers with short information sessions on their rights at work when this Statement is distributed. Unions should be entitled to present at these sessions.

Congress notes that the purpose of the General Protections of the FW Act is to protect persons with certain attributes, or engaged in certain conduct covered by the FW Act, from ‘adverse action’ including, inter alia, the protection of persons engaged in lawful industrial activity.
Congress recognises that general protections have been effectively read-down by the Courts and are at risk of being undermined.
Congress commits to pursue legislative amendments to reinstate the essentially beneficial and protective operation of the general protections provisions of the FW Act in one of the following ways:
a) b)A positive description of the relevant test of characterisation as an objective test; or
The preclusion of the purely subjective approach to ascertaining the reasons for adverse action.

1. …Congress advocates for a suite of complementary policy and industrial measures to assist parents, carers and other employees to participate in the workforce and accommodate their other responsibilities.
Improved Right to Request Family Friendly Working Arrangements
However, Congress is deeply disappointed that the right to request still does not clearly set out an employer’s obligations to properly consider and make reasonable efforts to accommodate a request and does not provide employees with a right to appeal an employer’s unreasonable refusal of a request.
Congress notes in particular that the right to request a change to working arrangements to meet caring responsibilities or to extend unpaid parental leave are the only two provisions of the FWA which specifically deny workers the procedural justice of a right to appeal an unreasonable refusal unless they are able to negotiate the right as part of their workplace agreement. Congress regards this as out of step with community standards of equity and fairness.
Congress will lobby to ensure employers are obligated to properly consider and make reasonable efforts to accommodate family friendly work arrangements and all employees have a right to appeal an employer’s unreasonable refusal to accommodation of their needs by: 
a) Pursuing family friendly work arrangements through the Modern Award Review; and 
b) Campaigning for improvements to the National Employment Standard (NES).
In addition, Congress will continue to bargain for: 
a) Greater employee control over their work arrangements, including shift patterns, rosters, targets and workloads in order to meet their caring responsibilities; and 
b) Equality of opportunities for casual and part-time employees in the workplace, including access to paid leave and working time entitlements.
Workers with family and caring responsibilities are particularly vulnerable to pressure to agree to “Individual Flexibility” clauses if it is often the only way their employer will grant much needed changes to work arrangements to meet caring responsibilities.

Congress regards the use of Individual Flexibility Clauses as inappropriate particularly in the circumstances of workers with caring responsibilities and affirms the 2009 Congress Policy on Individual Flexibility Clauses.

Extending Personal and Carer’s Leave
Congress will continue to bargain for and campaign for improved safety net entitlements to better assist workers with caring responsibilities …see details…
Building on the Paid Parental Leave scheme
Congress notes that the Abbott Government has failed to deliver on its promise to improve the Paid Parental Leave Scheme established in 2011.
Congress will continue to seek improvements to the Paid Parental Leave Scheme
Congress recognises that paid parental leave is a workplace right and should ultimately be codified as an NES entitlement of 26 weeks paid leave.
Given the structure of the current paid parental leave system, Congress resolves to lobby for:
. a) A government funded parental leave scheme of 26 weeks paid at no less than the national minimum wage plus superannuation at the guaranteed contribution rate; and
. b) Mandated top-up of the Government scheme to full wage replacement to ensure a co-contribution from employers.
Unions will seek to improve the NES Leave entitlements and the Paid Parental Leave Scheme… …Where appropriate, unions will bargain for the above improvements, and also for:
. a) Employer top up on the government mandated scheme to full income replacement level;
. b) Increases in employer provided paid parental leave to at least 26 weeks paid parental leave;
. c) Improved paid leave provisions in relation to assisted reproduction or fertility treatment, pregnancy, adoption, childbirth, bonding, surrogacy and breastfeeding; and
. d) Provide employees with the right to return to work part-time from paid or unpaid parental leave.
Dad and Partner Leave
22. Unions will campaign and bargain for an increase to the Dad and Partner Pay Scheme to provide eligible employees with 4 weeks leave rather than 2 and the relevant improvements listed above.

Congress notes and supports the recommendations of the Pregnancy and Return to Work Inquiry conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Congress notes that the adverse action provisions of the Fair Work Act apply only to the extent the adverse treatment is a breach of the relevant state anti-discrimination law and therefore are subject to the state-based inconsistencies in protection against discrimination on the grounds of family or caring responsibilities.
…Unions will campaign for improvements to Commonwealth and State anti-discrimination legislation to…:

…Congress congratulates unions on achieving domestic violence leave for over 1.6 million employees through workplace bargaining. Unions will continue to bargain for provisions designed to protect and support employees who are experiencing family or domestic violence which include:
. a) Dedicated additional paid leave for employees experiencing family or domestic violence, with an aim to achieving 20 days paid leave;
. b) Measures to protect the confidentiality of employee details;
. c) Workplace safety planning strategies to ensure the protection of employees;
. d) Referral of employees to appropriate domestic violence support services;
. e) Appropriate training and paid time off work for agreed roles for nominated contact persons (including union delegates or health and safety representatives);
. f) Access to flexible work arrangements where appropriate; and
. g) Protection against adverse action or discrimination on the basis of disclosure of, experience of, or perceived experience of, family and domestic violence.
Congress will campaign and advocate for paid domestic violence leave as a minimum safety net entitlement through the 2014 modern award process.
Congress believes access to paid domestic violence leave is a right that should be secured in legislation and will campaign and advocate for it to be included in the National Employments Standards. Campaigning efforts will place pressure on the Federal
Government to extend the right to paid domestic violence leave to all working Australians, including casual workers.
In addition, Congress supports:
. a) The creation of a new ground of discrimination (including in state and federal anti- discrimination legislation and the Fair Work Act) to better protect employees who are experiencing, have experienced, or are perceived to be experiencing family or domestic violence against adverse action;
. b) Initiatives to generate greater awareness and adoption of workplace initiatives to support cultural changes aimed at eliminating family and domestic violence; and
. c) The conduct of appropriate further research to identify the key issues relating to the interface of family and domestic violence and the workplace.

Congress recognises that access to high quality, affordable childcare is central to enabling families balance work and care for children and notes the Congress policy on Early Childhood Education and Care. Confidence in care for children and good access enables increased labour market participation by women, as despite endeavours to encourage men to take up the role of primary carers of young children women are still disproportionately primary carers.

Congress recognises that Public Holidays and weekends are important opportunities for families, friends and the community as a whole to spend together and notes the Congress policy on Penalty Rates and Public Holidays and Weekends.
Congress notes the negative impacts rostering can have on work life balance, particularly in light of:
. a) limited access to affordable, quality early education and care ;
. b) the use of punitive rostering to discriminate against workers particularly pregnant employees and those with caring responsibilities; and
. c) the impact of precarious work, insecure work and casualisation on low paid workers and women workers.
Congress further notes that due to advances in technology and the use of personal electronic devices workers are commonly required to work beyond their rostered hours without appropriate compensation.
The ACTU will establish a working group to consider the impact that rostering and technology has on work life balance across all industries and develop strategies to address these widespread issues.
Fly-in Fly-out and other forms of long-distance commuting are becoming more widespread across the resources industry. Employers’ growing preference for itinerant over residential workforces is having severe impacts on workers, families and communities including:
a) Discrimination against local workers in regional areas;
b) Lack of investment in training;
c) Decline of population, economic activity and social amenity in regional communities;
d) Punishing rosters leading to fatigue, family breakdown and mental illness; and
e) Lack of standards and personal freedoms in accommodation camps.
Workers in mining and resources projects increasingly have no choice about their commuting and accommodation arrangements.
Congress notes the urgency of this issue and welcomes initiatives from the Western Australian bipartisan Parliamentary inquiry into FIFO suicides and the Queensland Government inquiring into the impacts of FIFO and commuting. However more action is needed.
Congress calls on all levels of government to work together to ensure:
. a) FIFO is limited to genuinely remote and temporary operations;
. b) worker accommodation camps meet minimum standards with rights and freedoms for workers;
. c) companies may not discriminate against local workers;
. d) shifts and rosters are developed in agreement with employees and their unions to encourage family time and reduce fatigue; and
. e) tax arrangements do not favour the employment of itinerant over residential workforces.


Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Rights on site campaigns to abolish the ABCC

Every worker has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, so that all Australians can go to work and come home safely.
All parties must ensure there are laws, processes, and systems in place that mandate that no Australian worker be disadvantaged if they are injured at work. A ‘race to the bottom’ to reduce injured workers’ benefits or their access to safe working conditions is unacceptable.

Congress acknowledges that insecure work, in its many forms, is linked with poor safety outcomes and has negative impacts on the physical and psychosocial health of workers. Conversely, the provision of secure, ongoing work is a key factor in improving health and safety outcomes for workers. This has a particular impact on vulnerable sections of the workforce, including young workers, who face particular work health and safety risks due to their age and the generally low skilled nature of their work.
Although Australian unions are supportive of a nationally consistent legislative scheme for work health and safety matters, any changes to the current laws or jurisdictional coverage must not result in a diminution of the rights and entitlements of any worker, regardless of where they live and the location of their workplace.
Congress reaffirms its position that consistent arrangements are needed for all injured workers in terms of rehabilitation, return to work programs and compensation. While the long standing aim of establishing a national scheme to deliver these outcomes remains valid, Congress acknowledges that this is not the only way to achieve this objective. As such, Congress affirms that achieving national consistency and world’s best practice in these areas is of paramount importance.
Congress affirms the work health rights of every worker, in particular the right to privacy and autonomy in relation to their health.

Congress reaffirms its commitment to the Union Charter of Workplace Rights, as outlined in the 2012 Congress Policy, which sets out rights in relation to workplace health, safety, compensation and rehabilitation.
Health and safety is a union issue and a basic human right of the utmost importance to Australian workers. The protection and promotion of health and safety is integral to union activity and growth. Australian unions will continue to campaign for increased rights and protections in all work health and safety laws, including the 2011 version of the model Work Health and Safety Act and Regulation.

This Congress acknowledges the importance of tripartitism and genuine consultation with workers’ representatives. All work health and safety, compensation and rehabilitation laws must be developed in a tripartite manner. …
Workers’ union representatives must be fully included in all governing and regulatory bodies that provide oversight and compliance into health and safety matters. Representation is best achieved through membership on relevant Boards or committees, so that workers have a voice in the procedures and administration that govern their health and safety at work.
Congress affirms that industrial manslaughter should be an offence under work health and safety legislation or other legislation as most appropriate. The elements of the offence should include:
. a) Where a worker dies in the course of employment or at a place of work or is injured or contracts a disease, injury or illness in the course of employment and later dies;
. b) Where the conduct (by way of act or omission) of a person caused the death, injury or illness; and
. c) Where the person was reckless or negligent about causing serious harm or death to the worker.
Congress affirms that in order to ensure compliance with work health and safety laws, there needs to be effective enforcement of the legislation, including a more active approach to prosecutions by the relevant WHS regulators. To this end, Congress supports the right of unions to initiate prosecutions for breaches of work health and safety laws in all jurisdictions, (as existed in the NSW OHS Act 2000).
Further, the model WHS legislation should be amended to include a provision in relation to personal liability, to hold to account individuals in decision-making positions of authority, such as company directors, for any instances of criminal negligence resulting in the death of a worker.

As a further deterrent, Congress resolves to lobby for higher fines for corporations and company directors found guilty of wrongdoing leading to the death of a worker, with penalties tied to the company’s size in such a way that it acts as an effective deterrent to wrongdoing.
Congress supports legislative change that would require Safe Work Australia to refer to Australian Securities and Investments Commission, details of companies and their directors charged with offences under the various WHS Acts and other OHS Acts. This would ensure there is no unregulated resignation of directors or administration, liquidation and phoenixing of companies in the process of health and safety prosecution or paying subsequent fines Safe Work Australia should play a coordinating role in gathering the necessary data from the health and safety regulators to provide to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on a real time basis.
Congress calls for the Corporations Act to be amended to require that upon notification to a state regulator of a charge under health and safety legislation, or upon notification of a death, serious injury or disease, no corporate changes to the relevant employing entity or entities can be made, without an order of the relevant court of superior record, approving such change as having no bearing on potentially liable officers or potential corporate liability.

Improved health and safety outcomes are achieved through good workplace organisation, with workers represented and supported by their unions.
Australian unions commit to improving our organising capacities by increasing the numbers, and improving the density of, union-trained and democratically elected Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs).
Congress reaffirms the right of workers to be effectively represented by an elected HSR, taking into account the number of workers in a work group, the nature of the work and work arrangements. HSRs must be easily accessible to the workers they represent and the employer must facilitate that access.
Congress affirms the right of all HSRs to seek assistance where desired from the union representative of their choice, and to issue Provisional Improvement Notices where an employer is in breach of health and safety laws.
If a work group is made up of multiple workplaces, HSRs should be provided with the means and transportation to physically attend any workplace in the Designated Work Group (DWG) at the request of a member of the DWG.
Working time should be made available and costs associated with travel to attend these workplaces should be covered by the employer.
Congress supports legislative change to allow for regional and roving HSRs.
Congress affirms that all HSRs have the right to access training of their choice in paid work time, with all out of pocket expenses paid by the employer.
Completion of, and access to, training should not be a prerequisite for elected HSRs exercising their full range of functions and powers.
The minimum days training available to HSRs should be:
. a) 5 days general introductory training in the first year of the three year term of office; and
. b) 7 days over the following two years of the term. This may be refresher training or industry/topic specific training.

Congress opposes a competency-based approach for training of HSRs in accredited training courses under health and safety law.
Employers should be given at least 14 days’ notice of intention by the HSR to attend the training of their choice, and the employer should facilitate this attendance.
Approval of a HSR training provider to deliver an HSR course in one jurisdiction should be mutually recognised in other jurisdictions (so that the provider does not need to obtain approval from each jurisdiction to deliver the same training course)
The mode of delivery of HSR training must be face-to-face as this is the only mode that ensures networking which promotes learning and knowledge transfer between participants with similar experiences from similar industries.
The focus of HSR training courses should be to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to assist HSRs in their functions and exercising of their powers under health and safety law. The paramount function is to represent the health and safety interests of the workers they represent.
Australian unions commit to campaigning for legislative change to reinsert broad health and safety matters, particularly in relation to HSRs, into awards and agreements.
Australian unions will develop clauses, for insertion in workplace agreements, to support and enhance union activity in workplaces, and strengthen the involvement and protection of HSRs and workers. Key elements of such clauses should include:
. a) The role of union delegates in negotiation of work groups and election of HSRs;
. b) Improved number of training days for HSRs;
. c) HSR right to choose and attend, on paid leave, union approved training courses.

…Congress supports legislative change which recognises and improves outcomes by removing exposures to unhealthy and unsafe work arrangements, irregular and non- predictable patterns of work and insecure work. This could include, for example, a legislative provision for the election of HSRs specifically for casual workers.
Congress recognises the impact that insecure work can have on the right of ill and injured workers to access leave entitlements, workers compensation and suitable rehabilitation programs.
Congress acknowledges the importance of worker involvement and consultation in all forms of employment.
Congress will ensure that health and safety policies, campaigns and activities seek to improve the rights of workers in insecure work.

Congress notes that foreign workers are often provided with inferior access to safety training, workplace safety and safety consultation. Congress also notes the particularly vulnerable position that foreign workers are often placed due to the reliance of the worker on their employer to maintain not only their employment but also their visa or residency. This makes safety consultation and issue resolution difficult and places too much power with the employer. It also sets a lower standard for all workers, and means that foreign workers are often under-represented by, or have no access to, unions.
Congress calls on the state, territory and Commonwealth governments to target regulatory action in workplaces where significant numbers of foreign workers are present, and specifically amend the immigration laws to prevent employers who threaten or terminate a worker for raising a safety issue, or who have a poor safety record from undertaking further use of international workers.
Congress notes that most workers’ compensation jurisdictions terminate payments for international workers once they return or are returned to their home country. This creates an incentive to not rehabilitate the worker and also creates a cheaper category of workforce if they are injured. This reduced cost of injury has a potential to reduce the incentive to maintain a safe workplace with this vulnerable group of workers.
Congress calls on all jurisdictions to provide adequate workers compensation to foreign workers to at least the same level and duration as the local resident workers when injured.
Further regulations should apply to employers who wish to employ foreign labour, and businesses should only be allowed to engage foreign labour if they have enjoyed a strong health and safety record with no major breaches.

With extremely high levels of work-related injury, disease and death a shameful reality in Australia, Congress reaffirms its position that the rights of injured workers are of fundamental significance.
Congress notes extensive research, which documents that workers in insecure employment are less likely to know their compensation rights, less likely to exercise them and more likely to face negative consequences if they do.
Congress recognises that effective rehabilitation and return to work programs, as well as the provision of economic security through workers’ compensation arrangements, are critically important to injured workers, their families and the wider community.
Accordingly, Congress reaffirms its position that after sustaining a physical or psychological work-related injury, all workers are entitled to comprehensive and quality rehabilitation services and to return to suitable and decent employment. Further, injured workers are entitled to compensation that restores them to the position they enjoyed prior to their injury, including full access to superannuation and leave entitlements.

Congress reaffirms its position that improvements and consistent arrangements are needed for all injured workers in terms of rehabilitation, return to work programs and compensation. While the long standing Congress aim of establishing a national scheme to deliver these outcomes remains valid, Congress acknowledges that this is not the only way to achieve this objective. As such, Congress affirms that achieving national consistency and world’s best practice in these areas is of paramount importance.
Congress reaffirms its opposition to the current neoliberal use of competition between schemes to reduce benefits available to injured/ill workers. Workers compensation should be available on a no-fault basis where an injury “arises out of or in the course of employment”, even where it is the aggravation of an existing injury or disease.
Australian unions call on all workers compensation jurisdictions to update their Deemed Diseases lists as per the Safe Work Australia (SWA) funded report, Deemed Diseases in Australia Report 2015. Current lists of Deemed Diseases are based on the International Labour Organization’s List of Occupational Diseases under Convention 42 created in 1934.
Australian unions will:
. a) In consultation with Trades and Labour Councils (TLCs) and affiliates continue the development of best practice elements of a rehabilitation and compensation system to be used as the benchmark for national and state based negotiations and campaigning;
. b) Work with TLCs and affiliates to coordinate lobbying and activity at the State and other jurisdictional level to maintain and raise standards in each jurisdiction; and
. c) Coordinate a campaign at the national level in partnership with TLC’s and affiliates in each jurisdiction to promote and secure fairer workers’ compensation laws and policy.
Australian unions commit to supporting injured workers and to ensure that education about rehabilitation, return to work arrangements and compensation issues, are included in training for delegates, HSRs and union members.
Congress calls for improvements to be made in the form of: 
a) Comprehensive coverage of the work relationship, including on journeys to and from work, and during recess breaks;
. b) A return to a basis of ‘no-fault’ compensation for all workplace injury and diseases;
. c) Abolition of the illegitimate use of ‘whole of body assessments’, which act to reduce compensation and limit access to statutory lump-sum payments and common law remedies via legislated minimum thresholds;
. d) Introduction of genuine rehabilitation options, including full technical or tertiary retraining;
. e) Removal of time limits and step downs on weekly payments that effectively shift the injured worker onto social security benefits;
. f) Maximising the resources in a scheme by removing profit incentives to third parties, thus ensuring that benefits are distributed to workers; and
. g) Fast and effective conciliation and arbitration of any workers’ compensation matter in dispute by an independent tribunal.
Congress calls on the Federal Government to establish an inquiry as a matter of urgency to examine the extent of cost shifting by workers’ compensation schemes onto injured workers and government services, including the public health system and social security.
Premiums must recover the costs of the system as well as encourage safe work practices.
All workers’ compensation regulators must be properly resourced to carry out their functions properly, including through an increased emphasis on prevention and compliance.
The system of scheme agents and self-insurers should be abolished and all workers compensation functions should be internalised within the regulatory authority.
Trade unions must have the power to enforce non-compliance with workers compensation law together with rights of entry, inspection and other investigative powers.
The relevant tribunals or commissions should provide a quick, easy, effective and legally binding mechanism to resolve disputes about all aspects of the workers compensation system.
Return to work should be elevated as a central tenet of workers compensation by:
. a) placing an absolute obligation on employers to provide suitable duties;
. b) preventing termination of employment unless the injury management plan states that the return to work goal is a different job and a different employer; and
. c) providing incentives for the employment of injured workers.
Weekly payments should be set at a level equivalent to an injured worker’s pre-injury average weekly earnings irrespective of their fitness for work and should not be subject to any caps or step-downs.
Costs associated with medical and all related treatment should be covered for workers compensation purposes with no arbitrary caps or limits.
Work capacity reviews and decisions should be removed from the workers compensation legislation. Consideration of a worker’s functionality should be properly addressed as part of their rehabilitation plan.

Congress opposes any attempts to expand access to self-insurance under the Comcare scheme. Australian unions will campaign against any proposals which will undermine the financial viability of State and territory workers compensation schemes and expand the number of workers covered by the current Comcare scheme, which is an under-resourced and ineffective health and regulator.
Australian unions will campaign to remove legislative and operational restrictions preventing proactive WHS representatives and WHS Regulators from acting in workplaces where multiple jurisdictions operate.
Australian unions will campaign for material improvements to the current Comcare scheme. Of particular concern is the lack of a timely and fair dispute resolution process and the lack of a well-resourced and proactive health and safety regulator.
Australian unions will campaign to return self-insurers who entered the Comcare jurisdiction post-2006 to their relevant state or territory jurisdictions. In the longer term, if Comcare meets union principles of workers compensation, Australian unions may support a mechanism for private companies to become premium payers in the Comcare system
Congress opposes self-insurance for employers as it creates a conflict between profit generation and administration of workers compensation claims and generally limits access to benefits, compromises privacy, undermines the premium pool and discourages workers from exercising their rights. However, Congress recognises that self-insurance currently exists in all jurisdictions. Therefore, Congress believes that self-insurance should only be available to employers who have an exemplary record in health and safety and a demonstrated commitment to workers’ rights. Further, self-insurance licenses must be automatically revoked in cases where there is a workplace death or serious injury and/or repeated non-compliance.
Congress believes that the administration of workers’ compensation by self-insurers must be conducted by arrangements that separate the insurer from the employer, in the same manner as the relationship between a private insurer and the employer as a client, to fully protect workers’ privacy.
Congress calls for workers to have access to an independent body which can review an employer’s self-insurance status. Further, employers seeking to become, or to remain, self- insurers must be able to demonstrate that the majority of their workers genuinely favour this option.

Congress supports the retention of the SeaCare scheme of workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety for Australian seafarers as an independent Statutory Authority operating under Commonwealth legislation. Congress opposes the absorption of the SeaCare Authority into the governance arrangements of the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (Comcare) nor into a Department of State.
Congress notes that, for workers at sea who have been injured and are returning to work, it is often appropriate and desirable to place that worker with another employer to undertake rehabilitation. Australian unions support the development of group training approaches to ensure workers can be placed in meaningful jobs while rehabilitating.
Congress urges the Commonwealth Government to allocate Budget funding to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to enable it to properly perform its OHS Inspectorate functions under the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 (OHS (MI) Act).
Congress calls on the Federal Government to harmonise the OHS (MI) Act and Regulations made under that Act with the model WHS Act 2011 and WHS Regulations as appropriate.


With extremely high levels of work-related injury, disease and death a shameful reality in Australia, Congress reaffirms its position that the rights of injured workers are of fundamental significance.
Congress notes extensive research, which documents that workers in insecure employment are less likely to know their compensation rights, less likely to exercise them and more likely to face negative consequences if they do.
Congress recognises that effective rehabilitation and return to work programs, as well as the provision of economic security through workers’ compensation arrangements, are critically important to injured workers, their families and the wider community.
Accordingly, Congress reaffirms its position that after sustaining a physical or psychological work-related injury, all workers are entitled to comprehensive and quality rehabilitation services and to return to suitable and meaningful employment. Further, injured workers are entitled to compensation that restores them to the position they enjoyed prior to their injury.
Congress calls upon employers and governments to work with unions to provide rehabilitation services that achieve maximum recovery and prepare injured workers, wherever possible, to return to their previous position. In cases where this is not possible, then workers must be redeployed to the most suitable position in respect of their aptitude and capacity.
Congress calls upon governments to work cooperatively to ensure that existing rehabilitation services are properly accredited, coordinated and expanded so that they are accessible to all injured workers.
Congress recognises that in many cases the current rehabilitation practices applied to injured workers does not always facilitate their return to suitable and meaningful employment. As such, effective rehabilitation services and programs must also deliver genuine opportunities to meet this objective.
Congress believes that for rehabilitation services to be effective they must:
. a) Be implemented properly and without regard to the insurers’ cost assessments;
. b) Ensure that employers health and safety management systems enable the immediate reporting of injuries;
. c) Return workers to their full capacity in their workplace, community, family and life;
. d) Return workers to safe, meaningful and durable employment as early as possible;
. e) Actively involve unions and their members in consultation and decision making;
. f) Have the commitment of the employer to the above aims; and
. g) Be independent of the employer or insurance company.
Congress supports the development by unions and employers of rehabilitation policies and programs that are based on the following principles:
. a) Voluntary participation by the injured worker;
. b) Respect for the worker’s privacy;
. c) No loss of income while participating in the program, including the accrual of leave and employer superannuation contributions;
. d) Eliminating or controlling the hazard that caused the injury;
. e) Consistency with the medical advice of the worker’s own doctor;
. f) Employer cooperation in the provision of suitable duties, modified work environment and retraining of redeployment opportunities;
. g) Access to the advice and assistance of multi-disciplinary professional teams;
. h) The injured worker’s right to choose their rehabilitation provider;
. i) That rehabilitation be provided to the injured worker at the closest possible location to their home or workplace;
. j) The development of appropriate and effective individual return to work plans;
. k) An individual assessment of the injured worker and their workplace;
. l) The adaptation of the workplace to suit the injured worker’s capacity;
. m) The development of an appropriate timetable for returning the injured worker to their previous position, or the most suitable alternative, that is consistent with the level of their capacity;
. n) The involvement of union representatives and injured workers in decisions concerning alternative duties, rehabilitation programs and retraining; and
. o) The commitment by all parties to provide an environment in the workplace that is supportive of the injured worker with adequate training of workers, supervisors and management in the rehabilitation policies and procedures adopted.
The employer must ensure that participation in a rehabilitation program or the rehabilitation program itself will not prejudice an injured person. Furthermore, an injured worker must not be dismissed or have their employment damaged because of a work- related injury or any resulting temporary impairment.
In the event of dismissal of the injured worker or damage to their employment, the applicable tribunal will be empowered to review and remedy the situation.
Regulatory authorities must enforce workers’ rights to rehabilitation and to return to work.
All workers must be provided with a comprehensive statement detailing their entitlements regarding rehabilitation and return to work.

Asbestos-containing materials are still abundant and are present in many residential and commercial dwellings throughout Australia. Congress confirms its position that asbestos is a known hazard and that to prevent further exposures and hence asbestos related diseases, asbestos must be eliminated from the built environment.
Congress supports the ongoing role of the independent Asbestos Safety Eradication Agency and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council, and the adoption and implementation of:
. a) A national strategic plan for the elimination of all asbestos-containing material (ACM) from the built environment by 2030;
. b) Carrying out a national audit of asbestos containing materials (with government buildings and dump sites a priority);
. c) The development and adoption of a prioritised removal program, starting with government –owned buildings;
. d) Ensuring asbestos containing materials are only removed by licensed removalists;
. e) The adoption of an ‘Asbestos Content Certificate’, identifying the location and condition of asbestos containing materials, obtainable by the owner of a private domestic residence at the point of lease, sale or renovation;
. f) Coordinating education and awareness activities; and
. g) Coordinating the removal of asbestos containing materials from the built environment.
Congress calls on all levels of government to work with the union movement and a broad spectrum of asbestos organisations in the establishment and ongoing work of the Council so that we can extend and implement successful and safe asbestos awareness, control and eradication programs across the nation.
Congress also welcomes regulations requiring licencing of asbestos removalists and asbestos removalists’ supervisors; regulations on demolition and the requirement for removalists to participate in nationally approved training.
The ACTU, TLCs, and affiliates will continue to lobby governments for the removal of ACMs from the built environment by 2030 and to raise awareness of the hazards of asbestos amongst members and the broader community, including documented, time-limited remediation/replacement plans.
Congress proposes the establishment of an asbestos eradication fund that is levied on all construction materials so that these functions of asbestos removal can be adequately resourced.
Congress proposes that all asbestos eradication be given full tax deductibility status to encourage asbestos removal from residential properties as is already available through current general tax deductibility mechanisms for commercial and investment remises.
The WHS Regulations should be amended to prohibit asbestos removal except by a licensed asbestos removalist.
Australian unions propose that a mandatory training package is developed and maintained for an asbestos awareness course with registration, regulation and oversight of those training organisations that can deliver the course. Asbestos awareness training should also be a mandatory component in all tertiary and other vocational training courses relating to the building and construction industry and allied industries with modifications made to enable identification and safe work methods for each occupation.
Following the development of the Asbestos Identification Training Course, it should be made compulsory through amendment to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, for all workers who stand a likelihood of being exposed to asbestos due to the nature of their work, to complete this training prior to engaging in such work. The regulator should be empowered to regulate who can provide the course.
Congress recommends that each jurisdictional government establish a standing committee, made up of representatives of the community, workers and government of all levels for the purpose of driving the management (including identification, warnings, removal, demolition, remediation, dumping) of asbestos from the built environment. This may be similar in nature to the ACT Asbestos Response Taskforce Community and Expert Reference Group.
The committee should implement the above functions of the ASEA and coordinate the removal of asbestos from the built environment, to implement and make funding arrangements for asbestos removal activities (including Asbestos Content Certificates) and asbestos waste management.
The standing committee should be chaired by a person with accountabilities to the appropriate Minister and/or Premier/Chief Minister. This may entail the establishment of a position such as Asbestos Commissioner with the statutory authority to second and advocate for appropriate resources from the public sector.
Asbestos Removal Funding
Asbestos Management has been typically managed by reacting from one crisis to another. Asbestos is not being systematically removed from our environment except when an exposure occurs or public attention is drawn to the presence. A number of government reports have recommended significant action and funding yet no government is prioritising the removal of asbestos from the built environment due to funding shortfalls.
Congress proposes that jurisdiction asbestos waste levies be removed to minimise incentives for dumping.
Congress supports local governments and waste management organisations to build the infrastructure and personnel to safely receive small amounts of contained asbestos locally to avoid dumping.
Asbestos in Our Region
Due to the prevalence of asbestos in Asia, Australian workers are now frequently seeing asbestos-containing manufactured materials and plant components imported into Australia workplaces, reducing the effectiveness of the Australian asbestos ban. Congress calls on Australian Customs and WHS Regulators to work together to increase their efforts to stop the importation of asbestos products using greater inspection and compliance mechanisms than currently undertaken.
Congress notes that the use of asbestos has escalated rapidly in the Asia-Pacific region. India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam are some of the major consumers of asbestos, as asbestos industries in Russia and China seek new markets, following bans in Australia and Europe.
Congress commends the work of Australian unions and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA to support workers, unions and communities in Asia to ban asbestos and programs to educate and protect workers and families from exposure. Congress supports efforts by Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA to develop a regional asbestos prevention program, building on the important progress it has achieved in Vietnam and Laos.

Australian unions will oppose the international asbestos industry’s efforts to block the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a substance on the Prior Informed Consent list of the Rotterdam Convention. Australian unions commit to increasing the capacity of and support our international partners, unions and civil society groups such as asbestos support groups, in their campaigns to ban the use of asbestos in their countries. Australian unions call on the Australian government to use all the mechanisms available to see a global ban on chrysotile asbestos.
Australia’s regulatory approach to chemicals is uncoordinated and differs across government and sectors of the workforce. The current regulatory system lags behind many international developments and reform is consistently stymied by vested industry interests.
In order to protect workers from the harmful effects of chemicals, Australian unions will campaign and lobby for the reduction in the use of toxic substances at work and associated risks by:
. a) Advocating that all chemicals, both those currently in use and ‘new’ chemicals introduced into Australia, undergo rigorous assessments;
. b) Advocating that the relevant chemical regulators (in particular the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme [NICNAS] and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority [APVMA]) are adequately resourced, remain independent, and have genuine consultative structures which guarantee union participation and involvement;
. c) Advocating for the adoption of a Toxic Use Reduction approach;
. d) Progressive phase out of International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Group 1, followed by Group 2A carcinogens linked to occupational cancer;
. e) Modification of the European European Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) to Australian conditions; and
f) Promoting communication in the supply chain about the safe use of chemicals through Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provision and chemical safety alerts.
Australian unions will lobby and campaign for the establishment of a single regulatory chemicals body to develop and implement a cohesive policy on the assessment, registration and management of chemicals
Australian unions will also campaign for the development of an effective recognition of occupational cancer by workers compensation systems and the adoption of ILO Convention 121.

Nanomaterials can be hazardous because of their small size, large surface area and altered toxicity. Substances that are non-hazardous in larger form can pose new risks in nano-form. There is also evidence that some forms of carbon nanotubes that have a similar shape to asbestos fibres can cause the onset of mesothelioma, which has resulted in these being classified as ‘hazardous’. Concerns regarding the health risks of nanomaterials are greatest for workers, who are more likely to be exposed more routinely, and at higher doses than the general public.
Congress affirms it is the right of every worker to know what hazards may be present in the work environment and that this right includes the potential hazards of nanomaterials. Congress calls for products containing manufactured nanomaterials to be clearly identified in both Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labels, to ensure implementation of effective identification and control measures. Consistent with this, where products are produced in nano form, SDS must relate to that nano form – rather than to its bulk counterpart.
The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) introduced new guidelines for the nano-specific regulation of the health and environmental effects of nano-forms of new industrial chemicals, commencing 1 January 2011. While a welcome development, these new measures apply to a small fraction of the manufactured nanomaterials in commercial use. Therefore Congress calls for the introduction of nano- specific regulation of nano-forms of existing substances by NICNAS and other regulators.
Congress calls on government to develop effective legislation incorporating the precautionary principle for nanomaterials. Specifically, Congress calls for:
. a) The classification of nanoscale chemicals as new chemicals under NICNAS and other regulators;
. b) The development of new standards for the handling of nanotechnology;
. c) Mandating the labelling of all commercial products containing nanomaterials;
. d) Establishment of a federal registry of all entities manufacturing, importing and supplying products containing nanomaterials;
. e) The establishment of a tripartite body to oversee implementation of this regulatory framework;
. f) Development and improvement of hazard identification, assessment and control mechanisms for nanomaterials;
. g) Enforcement of new exposure standards, including via a well-resourced inspectorate; and
. h) Monitoring of the health impacts on Australian workers involved in nanotechnology and investment in related medical research.
The ACTU, TLCs and unions will lobby governments for effective protections for people exposed to nanomaterials.

pregnant-20-dollar-bill-webNOISE AND HEARING LOSS
Occupational noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL) is a significant health and safety and economic problem in Australia. The economic burden of ONIHL loss is mainly borne by workers and their families and the wider community with workers’ compensation being fairly limited with a high threshold for eligibility.
Exposure to occupational noise is associated with many adverse effects besides loss of hearing. It has also been linked to fatigue, stress and hypertension. Proper workplace and equipment design and adequate management practices can control occupational noise levels and workers’ exposure, thereby reducing the risk of hearing loss and other adverse effects yet appears that the employers’ usual preferred method of control is personal hearing protection which should be the last resort.
Excessive noise should always be reduced at source where practical. ‘Buy Quiet’ policies should be introduced in all noisy workplaces.
Australian unions will campaign to have a first action level for noise to be at an LAeq of 80dB(A) at which detailed assessment must take place as well as the provision of information, training and health monitoring to workers.
The whole person binaural impairment compensation threshold for hearing loss should be set at 1% in all jurisdictions in accordance with best practice research and guidelines.
Congress recognises that there are a growing number of workers who come into contact with animal and human vector biological hazards. Congress calls on all governments to amend the harmonised WHS laws to include a chapter on risk management of biological hazards.

The union movement recognises the damaging effect that psychosocial hazards and both primary and secondary psychological injuries (for example, workplace stress, fatigue, violence, and bullying) pose to the mental and physical wellbeing of workers.
Congress acknowledges that modern working arrangements create a heightened exposure to psychosocial hazards. Outsourcing, privatisation, corporatisation and competitive tendering of previously stable full time jobs has led to a large increase in the number of workers in insecure employment arrangements. Workers lacking secure employment face significant difficulties in raising health and safety complaints due to the nature of their employment arrangements and conditions.
Congress recognises the significant impact of secondary psychological injuries that occur as a result of deficient responses to a primary injury, including the management of rehabilitation and return to work plans. Unions support the review of rehabilitation and return to work processes in order to minimize the risk of secondary psychological injuries.
Congress recognises that workers who develop injuries, or illness, as a result of exposure to workplace psychosocial hazards, are likely to suffer stigmatisation and discrimination. As a consequence, disclosure and discussion of these injuries/illnesses may prove difficult for workers, and Health and Safety Representatives.
The continued failure of employers and regulatory agencies to control exposure to psychosocial risks continues to have flow-on effects to workers’ families and the general community. This contributes to disparities in health, and over time, to social inequality.
To redress this imbalance, Congress recognises that Model Work Health and Safety laws present an opportunity to address the hitherto piecemeal approach by employers and regulatory agencies to prevent workers’ exposure to psychosocial risks. In this regard, Congress calls for:
Legislation that provides for the control of risks arising from psychosocial hazards, including a regulation and supporting codes of practice to address psychosocial hazards, which must include an obligation on employers to assess and control psychosocial hazards;
An adequately resourced and qualified inspectorate capable of taking action to ensure that employers control psychosocial risks; and
Decent and ongoing workers’ compensation entitlements for injured workers and their families.
Workers must be treated with respect and dignity. Australian unions will continue to oppose any program that seeks to shift responsibility onto workers.
Congress recognises that in order to improve the psychosocial work environment for workers, a genuine tripartite approach is needed from all governments, (including OHS and workers’ compensation bodies) industry and unions. Congress will advocate for:
. a) This will include specifically that the harmonised WHS laws be amended to include a chapter on psychological risk management including the risks of violence, bullying, work overload, work design, and other occupational stressors, including shift work;
. b) Genuine consultation and engagement of workers and their representatives in the identification, assessment and control of psychosocial hazards;
. c) Training of HSRs, workers and supervisors;
. d) Workplace policies and procedures that ensure confidentiality in dealing with individual issues;
. e) Research through Safe Work Australia into the influence of systems of work on psychosocial risks and mental health issues associated with workers compensation processes;
. f) Training to ensure that health and safety inspectorates can address psychosocial hazards; and
. g) The removal of ‘reasonable management action’, and like provisions, from all jurisdictions’ workers’ compensation provisions.
Workplace Violence
Violence in the workplace is a WHS risk management issue as well as potentially a conventional criminal activity. Congress calls on amendments to appropriate legislation to include a WHS psychological risk management chapter that includes provisions to assess and control violence.
A specialist inspectorate should be established and tasked with reducing violence through higher order controls such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) research.
Congress opposes the increasing acceptance by employers of violence in the workplace, particularly where workers work alone and/or where exposure to anti-social and violent behaviour was once the responsibility of police or trained security.
Australian unions support a Regulation and specific Codes of Practice to cover workers in the public service, local government, law enforcement, security, banking, health, welfare, education, transport, retail, finance, human services and customer service-related sectors which are vulnerable to random and regular attacks at work.
Workplace Bullying
Congress acknowledges that workplace bullying is a work health and safety issue which must be identified, assessed and controlled in the same way as other hazards. In addition to strategies which deal with complaints of workplace bulling, employers must be made accountable to work health and safety regulators for adopting strategies which ensure consultation with workers to identify, assess and control the risks associated with bullying.
Congress supports the anti-bullying laws in the Fair Work Act to stop bullying as early as possible and supplement other OHS/Workplace Bullying codes and regulation.
Congress acknowledges the Fair Work Commission’s initiatives to maintain and resource this separate and discrete function of the tribunal.
Congress advocates that all workers, not just those employed by constitutional corporations, should have access to the jurisdiction, and that once a complaint has been made, it should continue to be heard under the FWC jurisdiction even if the worker’s employment is terminated.
In addition, Congress supports varying the legislation to ensure applicants include unions seeking to stop systemic bullying rather than the current focus on individual complainants having to make public applications for anti-bullying orders. This would allow unions to make complaints on behalf of their members who have been bullied at work but are too afraid to speak up.
Congress also supports legislative amendments to empower the industrial tribunal to award a more comprehensive suite of remedies than presently available. This includes a regime of pecuniary penalties and compensation or damages orders.
Congress rejects the use of the “reasonable management action taken in a reasonable manner” defence as a means for employers to cover workplace bullying.

Congress expresses its grave concern for the widespread and systemic incidence of ill and injured workers being subjected to a range of coercive, intrusive, inappropriate and discriminatory practices by employers, such as: see details 150
Congress notes there is little evidence of the link between AOD usage and workplaces accidents to justify the growth in testing regimes across Australian industries, and calls on governments and industry to consider the broader health, work and social context of AOD usage in preference to focussing on punitive action against individual workers, as a deterrent, which may compound the damage.

Australian unions will pursue improvements to the current legislation to ensure that union officials have right of entry and access to remote workplaces, with employers required to facilitate transport to and from the worksite for the purpose of meeting with members to discuss health and safety matters.
ACTU President Ged Kearney


1. Congress is committed to ensuring that women have strong and effective union representation in their workplace.
2. Congress notes that women now make up almost half of the paid workforce and half of total union membership. The capacity of the union movement to represent and organise women depends on the movement’s ability to reflect views and address issues that are particularly relevant to women. In order to achieve this, women members must be able to fully participate in all levels of union decision making processes and structures. Congress commits to the affirmative action objective of at least 50-50 representation of women in all elected positions at the ACTU and unions; acknowledging the need to better reflect the representation of women employees in the industry and the female membership of the union.
3. Congress notes the 2015 Women in Unions Report Recommendations that unions can assist women to continue to grow within the union movement by ensuring their industrial needs are adequately represented in the union’s bargaining priorities and by removing the barriers women face in accessing senior and elected roles within their union.
4. Removing these barriers will improve the union’s ability to attract the best possible leadership talent and tap into the growth potential of organising women workers.
5. Congress encourages all unions to use the Report’s recommendations as a basis to review their activities in regard to women, including how they attract, retain and develop women members, delegates, employees, elected officials and leaders.
6. Congress affirms its resolution to:
. a) Commit to funding and participating in the survey process which is to be conducted every three years;
. b) Provide for regular reporting of survey results as part of the formal ACTU Congress agenda; and
. c) Acknowledge that the accuracy of the survey results depends on full participation by all unions, and strongly encouraging all unions to continue to complete the survey.
7. Congress commits all unions, TLCs and the ACTU to implement the Report’s Recommendations where appropriate.
8. The ACTU will assist, support and advise unions regarding implementation of the Recommendations where appropriate.

9. ACTU Congress adopts the following recommendations from the Report.
Women’s Participation in Union Structures
10. Encourage women delegates and employees to participate in union structures by:
. a) Setting appropriate goals, actions, resources and timeframes to increase women’s active participation in the union;
. b) Ensuring women members are consulted and their issues addressed, when developing union industrial priorities and growth campaigns;
. c) Removing barriers which discourage the participation of women in union activities by taking into consideration the availability of employees and delegates with family responsibilities;
. d) Identifying and sponsoring women delegates to move into roles including elected positions;
. e) Encouraging and supporting women employees to take on more senior roles within the union;
. f) Ensuring women employees are afforded equal opportunities to access career development such as acting in higher duties and board positions;
. g) Developing policies for union employees including the right to part time work following parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and protection against sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. Provide mandatory training for all officials and union employees regarding these union policies;
. h) Consider establishing dedicated positions for women on union Committees of Management, Executive, Council, Congress, and other high level union committees;
. i) Ensuring there is a union official(s) who has responsibility in the union for women’s issues and reports at each union executive;
. j) Establishing a women’s committee and regular women’s conference; and
. k) Monitoring and reporting to the union executive annually on the representation of women at all levels within the union.
Peak Council Leadership and Representation of Women
11. Ensure peak council leadership and representation of women by:
. a) Ensuring women member’s issues are included in industrial, growth and campaign priorities, actions and resources set at Union, TLC, ACTU Executive and Congress level;
. b) Ensuring all unions have a representative on the ACTU Women’s Committee and integrating the work of the Committee into other recognised priorities of the ACTU, including in education, industrial and campaigns;
. c) Funding and participating in the ACTU Women in Unions survey which is to be conducted 12 months before each ACTU Congress with the findings to be reported as part of the formal Congress Agenda;
. d) Ensuring that women remain proportionately represented at ACTU Congress and include consideration of women’s issues in each item at Congress;
. e) Continuing to promote and support the Women in Male Dominated Occupations and Industries (WIMDOI) network by encouraging members to attend and actively participate in the biennial conferences; and
. f) Establishing an ACTU mentoring program to support women in the union movement to reach their potential and ensure the movement continues to grow and evolve.
Bargaining and Industrial Agenda
12. Ensure women members’ issues are included in the bargaining and industrial agenda by:
. a) Developing bargaining claims in consultation with women members, including consideration of the suggested provisions contained in the ACTU Work and Family Bargaining Guide;
. b) Bargaining for appropriate facilities and conditions for women workers in male dominated workplaces, and removing barriers which unfairly discourage women’s participation;
. c) Ensuring women representatives are on all bargaining committees; and
. d) Implementing a bargaining checklist to ensure that women’s claims do not “drop off” and review achievement of women member’s bargaining priorities.
Programs and Resources
. e) Continuing improving and extending the Anna Stewart Memorial Project by developing a comprehensive, structured curriculum and mentoring program for women union activists.
. f) Develop materials and resources, publicising union actions supporting women providing role models of active women in the union.
. g) Ensure union and ACTU training of delegates includes gender equality issues and union policies.



1. Australian trade unions face particular challenges in engaging, protecting and empowering young workers.
2. Young workers are more likely to be engaged in low skill, low paid employment, with little or no power to bargain directly with their employer over wages and conditions. This makes young workers particularly vulnerable to exploitation and ill treatment.
3. With the increasing casualization of the workforce and the concurrent rise in youth unemployment, it is harder than ever for young people to be engaged in decent, permanent, paid work. This means it is more important than ever that young people have trade unions representing their interests.
4. Young people are key to the future of the union movement and their participation in union activities should be nurtured and encouraged.

5. Australian unions will engage with young workers across the movement through the facilitation and resourcing of an ACTU Youth Committee, with a commitment from affiliates to participate and engage in the work of the Committee.
6. The Youth Committee will focus on nationally co-ordinated action in a number of priority areas:
. a) Organising and communication methods tailored to young workers;
. b) Education of young workers;
. c) Campaigns with a focus on the pay and conditions of young workers;
. d) Leadership and mentoring of young unionists.
7. The Youth Committee will focus on highlighting issues affecting young workers and ensuring that the movement responds appropriately. The Youth Committee will ensure that young people are a focus of union campaigning efforts.
8. The Youth Committee will ensure that best practice organising and engagement strategies are shared throughout the movement through mechanisms such as:
. a) Young Worker Conferences & Forums, including specific Apprentice Conferences;
. b) Union internships;
. c) Mentoring programmes.
9. In order to ensure that young people feature prominently in ACTU and union planning, and to gain a better understanding of the experiences unions and young people have with each other, Australian unions will conduct a Young People in Unions survey. The results will be presented at Congress 2018 and will be critical in guiding the ACTU and unions’ responses to the critical need of organising young workers. It is intended that this survey be reproduced every three years so that the union movement can track its progress.
10. Young people are often employed in insecure and precarious work and are particularly affected by the growth of the cash economy, where they are often paid cash-in-hand and miss out on important safety net entitlements such as personal/carers leave.
11. Australian unions will continue to campaign for more secure employment. Casual employment is most common among young workers and many young people are finding themselves in casual jobs for many years and are struggling to transition from full-time study to secure full-time employment. Unions will continue to advocate for training pathways and casual conversion clauses to enable young people to transition from insecure work into permanent employment.
12. Congress supports the introduction of measures in awards and EBAs to protect young workers from insecure work. This includes casual conversion clauses with an ‘opt-out’ rather than ‘opt-in’ approach, and the introduction of portable leave entitlements.
13. Congress calls upon the government to fund incentives for young apprentices and trainees, for example, through tools allowances and sign-on bonuses for apprentices to meet cost of living pressures.
14. Congress encourages all affiliates to:
. a) Focus on recruiting young people in precarious work and working with them to achieve job security if they so wish;
. b) Bargain for casual conversion clauses in all EBAs; and
. c) Investigate and pursue instances where young workers are being paid cash in hand and are not receiving their entitlements.

15. Australian unions will continue to advocate for improvements in pay and working conditions for young workers and to develop opportunities for young people to build capacity to campaign around these issues.
16. Unions will continue to campaign for the removal of youth wages, particularly for those aged 18 and over. Where awards and agreements continue to contain youth wages, steps should be taken to remove them on the grounds that they are discriminatory and fail to take into account young workers’ actual skills, experience, and length of service.
17. Congress resolves to campaign to expand the superannuation guarantee to workers under the age of 18, and remove the discriminatory requirement that workers under 18 must work at least 30 hours per week to receive employer superannuation contributions. Superannuation is a form of deferred wages, and therefore by not receiving their superannuation entitlement, young workers are effectively having their pay cut by 9.25%. With the compounding effect of superannuation, even a small amount earned at a young age will significantly boost retirement earnings.
18. Australian unions will continue to advocate for an increase in the minimum wage for young people on apprentice and trainee wages, noting that the current wages still remain too low to provide a decent standard of living.

19. Young people are more likely to change employment frequently and as a result it can be more difficult for unions to engage with and represent their interests. Unions should therefore develop specific strategies to organise young workers, including by engaging young people through the school system before they enter employment.
20. Congress resolves to explore and support new organising strategies, particularly those that integrate technology with campaigning. We note that young people are more likely to engage through social media than more traditional forms of media, and therefore unions should ensure they are fully equipped to run online campaigns and to seek to engage young workers and potential members through social media.
21. Australian unions will investigate easier joining methods, such as online application forms, and simplified fee structures for young people, which may include free or reduced membership fees.
22. Congress recommends that all affiliates appoint a Youth Contact Officer in each state branch and to publicise the contact details of the Officer so that they may be contacted with queries about joining or getting involved. Unions should have an easy point of call to personalise the membership joining process.
23. Affiliates will investigate whether it is feasible for them to backdate membership to young workers with an issue who wish to join the union in order to have their issue resolved, particularly if the worker is in a non-unionised workplace.
24. Affiliates resolve to work cooperatively to ensure that young workers who change careers or industries remain union members.

25. Young workers themselves are in the best position to voice their own issues and concerns, and therefore affiliates should actively attempt to engage young union members in decision making around youth-oriented campaigns and organising efforts.
26. The achievements of young people should be regularly showcased in union communications, publications and online content.
27. Unions should develop specific materials on workplace rights that are targeted towards young people, and should seek active input from young people in developing these materials.
28. Young people should be engaged with the union’s decision making bodies, through a youth advisory committee or similar structure, with reporting directly to the union’s committee of management.
29. Affiliates should consider whether to entrench these structures into the rules of their organisations, including through the possibility of mandating youth representative positions on committee structures.

30. Unions have a fundamental role in the education of young people. This duty applies equally to both young union members and non-members.
31. Congress notes the good work that has been undertaken by various affiliates and Trades and Labour Councils to develop educational material on workplace rights, and resolves to continue to support efforts to train and educate young people, particularly during the Year 10 Work Experience requirement. Unions should establish an active presence in schools and conduct outreach activities with other formal education settings.
32. Australian unions will consider developing and undertaking specific training and educational events for young delegates, activists and members, including through the provision of an annual Young Workers Conference.
33. Australian unions will develop materials targeted towards young people to educate them on their workplace rights and safety matters, and to promote the work of unions. These materials will be made available to all affiliates.
34. Recognising that young people are particularly vulnerable to workplace injuries and incidents, young people should be educated on health and safety issues and should be encouraged to be involved as Health and Safety Representatives or through their workplace health and safety committee.

35. Young people have the capacity, skills and vision to act as leaders in their workplaces and communities. Young people should be given appropriate support and encouragement to take on further leadership roles within their workplace, noting that many young people who are exposed to the union movement go on to have rewarding careers as union officials.
36. Affiliates resolve to resource and promote Union Summer, Organising Works and similar programs, and to pay all young workers a fair wage for their efforts.
37. Congress also resolves to establish a training and leadership development program for young delegates, similar to the Anna Stewart Memorial Project.
38. Australian unions will provide opportunities for young workers to develop their skills and networks through formal mentoring programs.
39. Trades and Labour Councils will be encouraged to establish youth committees or networks to run social events and to provide a volunteer base for campaigning activities.
40. Unpaid internships are becoming commonplace for young workers seeking to gain the experience required to obtain an entry level job. Unpaid internships are affecting an increasingly large number of industries, from media and the creative arts to law and not- for-profits.
41. Unpaid internships are problematic because they are increasingly viewed as a necessary qualification for young people to get their foot in the door of their chosen career. The work and efforts of all young people should be recognised, valued, and remunerated at a fair level.
42. Congress opposes unpaid internships that are not part of an accredited course at an educational institution, and we note that such arrangements would be in breach of the Fair Work Act.
43. Australian unions will work with, and provide support to, organisations running campaigns that raise the awareness of unpaid internships in Australia, including youth-driven groups such as Interns Australia.
44. Australian unions commit to ensuring that they do not engage unpaid interns in their own organisations, except as part of an accredited course.

45. Young people are disproportionately impacted by unemployment, and are more likely to be underemployed.
46. Congress supports a strong welfare system that treats the unemployed with dignity and respect, and provides young people with the assistance they need to find work and/or training.
47. Congress recognises the need for equal access to education and vocational training opportunities that provide young people with the skills and experience needed to enter the workforce.
48. Congress opposes policies which penalise, demoralise or humiliate the unemployed, creating unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to welfare access. In particular we reject the Government’s current proposal to extend the waiting period for jobseekers under the age of 30 to access Newstart Allowance. It is unfair and discriminatory to impose additional job search requirements or waiting periods on jobseekers who are under the age of 30.
49. Congress also notes that unpaid work placements, including Work For the Dole and the National Work Experience Programme, has been proven to be an ineffective way to get jobseekers into meaningful employment. Such programs undercut the labour market by forcing young people to undertake work for free instead of receiving a fair wage for it. In addition, such programs may be in breach of the Fair Work Act.
50. Australian unions will continue to campaign for the rights of young jobseekers, and will campaign against all of the Government’s unfair changes to welfare payments for young people.

Congress reaffirms education policy as endorsed by Congress in 2003.
Pivotal to the achievement of social inclusion and cohesion is education policy which aims to ameliorate social divides.
Public education, free, secular and universally accessible, is recognised as the foundation for a socially cohesive and prosperous Australia. The greatest benefit of public education is realised in the local, socially representative public school.
Governments have a prime obligation to adequately and properly fund government schools in order to provide high quality public schooling that is accessible to all children and young people. Public funding for schooling supports the right of families to choose non-government schooling and supports non-government schools on the basis of need, within the context of promoting a socially and culturally cohesive society and the effective use of public funds.
There must be increased public investment in education and distribution of public funds based on need and national resource standards. Better coordination between state, territory and the Commonwealth Government is crucial.
Congress welcomes the Federal Government’s increased investment in school infrastructure. This will enable schools to undertake important upgrades and to develop modern learning environments. Public investment in early childhood education, schools, TAFE colleges and universities is not only an investment in education it is also a capital investment in which should be available for the use of local communities.
Congress calls upon the Government to adopt policies that promote lifelong learning and effective transitions between our early childhood education institutions, schools, TAFE colleges and universities, as well as between education and work and non-work roles including familial and caring activities.
A new funding model
The adoption of a new funding model is the top priority for enhancing the provision of quality education. Congress is committed to working with stakeholders and to lobbying and campaigning to ensure that the new funding model which will apply from 2013 is fairer and based upon the funding principles endorsed by State and Territory Labor ministers for education through the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). These funding principles, adopted by ACTU Congress in 2003, are:
a) the total level of resources available for schooling is adequate so that achievement of the National Goals for Schooling is a realistic objective for all students;
b) public funding across different schools and sectors is distributed fairly and equitably through a consistent approach to assessing student needs and through having regard to the total level of resources available for students;
c) the total level of funding for government schooling is adequate to ensure access to high quality government schooling for all, and all governments’ funding policies recognise this as a national priority;
d) resourcing for all students is adequate for meeting the National Goals, notwithstanding the school or school sector they attend; and
e) public funding for schooling supports the right of families to choose non-government schooling and supports non-government schools on the basis of need, within the context of promoting a socially and culturally cohesive society and the effective use of public funds.
Congress calls on the Government to ensure the process for developing the new funding model is transparent and involves consultation with all stakeholders, including education unions.
Quality teaching
Congress calls upon the federal and state and territory governments to adopt the following national strategy to ensure the adequate supply of qualified teachers and skilled support staff for every school in Australia:
a) attract the best entrants through improving teacher education courses, beginning salary rates and HECS remission;
b) increase support and mentoring opportunities for new teachers to reduce the number of young teachers leaving the profession;
c) provide adequate funding for salaries, employment conditions and job security; and
d) increase opportunities for professional training and development.
To ensure all children have access to quality education regardless of geographical location, affiliates will seek to include the following measures in awards and/or agreements to enhance the desirability of teacher postings to rural and remote areas:
a) assistance with securing suitable housing;
b) ensuring teachers and support staff in rural and remote schools have access to professional development opportunities and ensuring the allocation of sufficient funds for these opportunities; and
c) remote area subsidies and allowances.
In addition, Congress calls on the Government to provide adequate income support to enable student teachers in urban areas to undertake the teacher practicum in rural or remote schools.
Congress urges the Government to take action to ensure Australia has sufficient numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and support staff, including by:
a) establishing clear targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment in the teaching profession and support services;
b) ensuring there is mentoring, support and access to professional learning and development opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and support staff; and
c) providing scholarships to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to enter the teaching profession and support services.
Congress calls on the Federal Government to work with the state and territory governments and the teaching profession to implement the following strategies to promote quality teaching in Australian schools:
a) ensure all students in their final or penultimate year of a pre-service teacher education course have access to a fully-funded teacher practicum. Barriers to schools accepting students on teacher practicum must be identified and overcome;
b) ensure new teachers receive adequate training, mentoring and support;
c) provide all teachers with access to ongoing quality professional development opportunities; and
d) provide adequate funding for payments of teacher supervision and mentoring of student teachers.Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
Congress calls upon the Government to immediately fund the expansion of the education system to ensure that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has meaningful access to pre-school, primary, secondary and post-school education. This must be a national priority.
The ACTU resolves to adopt the following as priorities to promote Indigenous education in the next three years:
a) call upon governments to respond more effectively to the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary education through the implementation of employment targets in all collective agreements and through the development and implementation of training plans, career pathways and transition to full employment;
b) secure adequate funding to meet the real needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support, such as tutorial assistance schemes and in class support to ensure the educational gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is closed;
c) advocate for a comprehensive and accurate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective across curriculum areas and ensure the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history pre and post contact, including the impact of colonisation on the First Peoples of Australia, in the development of the National Curriculum; and
d) lobby governments to ensure that all prospective teachers and teachers employed in education systems in Australia complete a comprehensive sequence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies as a minimum requirement for their employment, so as to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their communities.
Congress will also seek to ensure that efforts to ‘close the gap’ of the educational achievements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are supported by the development of a comprehensive and solid long term national action plan for Indigenous education, underpinned by a significant funding commitment and educational structures and models for the provision of education that take into account their needs and those of particular communities.
18 Congress acknowledges that the Government has taken action to redress more than a decade of neglect and significantly raised Australia’s investment, participation, and performance in higher education by providing additional funding of near $6 billion over a four period commencing in 2010.
Congress welcomes the Labor Government’s adoption of the following national targets by 2025:
a) 40 percent of 25-34 year olds will have attained at least a bachelor-level qualification; and
b) 20 percent of undergraduate enrolments in higher education will be students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Congress calls upon the Government to adopt the following measures to help achieve these targets:
a) further improve student income support and reduce student debt;
b) require all institutions in receipt of government subsidies for teaching and learning to develop programmes aimed at improving the participation rates of students from disadvantaged backgrounds;
c) provide adequate funding for the provision of student support services and independent student representation and advocacy.
Academic freedom and institutional autonomy are intrinsic to quality university teaching and research. Congress requests the Government protect these principles in legislation.
Congress calls upon the Federal Government to ensure all universities establish programs that address the impending staff crisis generated by an ageing academic workforce and an increased reliance on casual employees, should be specifically targeted at:
a) Providing career opportunities to the thousands of highly qualified casual staff unable to obtain entry into the academic workforce; and
b) Attracting recent PhD graduates seeking to enter the full-time academic workforce for the first time.

See further policies.

]]> On Whitlam Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:53:37 +0000 McQueen on Whitlam; Pilger on Kerr/CIA dismissal 205 update on dismissal at the end.

1. A Whitlam trifecta By Humphrey McQueen
The passing of Edward Gough Whitlam signifies more than the death of one man.
Whitlam is the only Labor prime minister whose name became an –ism, an endowment which continues to evoke veneration and loathing.
He will wish to be remembered for his policies, the theme of this reflection.

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello boasts that he has lead the economy to recovery from “the damage [that] began in 1972 with the Whitlam Government” Costello had reacted to the debauching of Australia’s credit rating by the Whitlam ministry’s attempt to borrow billions from unlovely vendors.

Minerals and Energy Minister, Rex Connor, defended those deals to buy back the farm with a line of verse: “Give me men to match my vision”.

Whitlam had restored vision to public life after the decline of Menzies cabinets into domestic and international senescence, followed by muddles and false starts under Holt, Gorton and McMahon. For good or ill, twenty-[???] years after Whitlam resigned from parliament, his name is linked to initiatives in every area of administration. The currency of terms such as “agenda setting” and “the mandate” testify to his energies.

Typical of this activism, his major publication, The Whitlam Government, 1972-1975 (1985), was not a volume of memoirs, but a thematic analysis under nineteen policy headings. Because the Whitlam legacy has been blurred on every side by false attributions and by forgetting, the measure of the man must be plumbed through a survey of his initiatives in those domains.


“A principal part of my duty”, he wrote, has been “to place issues of importance … on the agenda of my Party and the agenda of this nation”. Along with R. J. Hawke as ACTU advocate and D. A. Dunstan as attorney-general in South Australia, Whitlam represented the generation of graduates who turned the labour movement from its rural and manufacturing origins towards the tertiary sector.

A determination “to crash through” derived from impatience at the logjam of reforms after 23 years in opposition. “The program” that Whitlam delivered in the Blacktown Civic Centre on 13 November 1972 would have been more secure had he won in 1969. Instead, his reputation as a economic manager is abysmal, bearing the opprobrium of grappling with world recession from 1974, after oil prices skyrocketed in October 1973. Its warning signs had flashed from the late 1960s when the international monetary system had ceased to function before. The Coalition government had made the situation here worse by failing to revalue our dollar. To suppose that the economy would have had no problems had William McMahon won in 1972 is to deny the domestic and international forces that erupted after 1973.

In opposition, Whitlam had assumed that the post-war boom would continue, allowing him to fund the program without raising tax rates. In this expectation, he was not following Keynes who had favoured additional government spending to counter contractions by corporate investors. In as much as Whitlam had thought about these matters, he was among the multitude who extrapolated Keynes’s tactic into a licence to spend on good causes, irrespective of the pace of economic activity.

Australia did not face a low level of investments so much as their misdirection. A 1974-75 inquiry into manufacturing documented how chronic inefficiencies from fragmented plants, punitive taxes and inappropriate accounting had left firms vulnerable to the Coalition’s fuelling of inflation during 1971-72, well before the oil price hikes. Whitlam’s tome ignored those findings because he had little interest in manufacturing and because they ran counter to his conversion to tariff cuts as a panacea. No one explained to him that an appreciating dollar was stripping factories of that protection.

This economic illiteracy confirms the accusation by his advisor, Dr H. C. Coombs, that he suffered from the lawyer’s belief that the enactment of legislation altered the real world.

Yet as prime minister, Whitlam recognised that Acts of Parliament could be frustrated by a hostile or dispirited bureaucracy. The Labor government inherited a public service divided in its prejudices and enthusiasms. Although he categorised the Department of Immigration as irretrievably racist, he never lost his trust in the neutrality of the civil service on the model of his father who had been Commonwealth solicitor-general.

By April 1974, Coombs had convinced Whitlam to set up a Royal Commission on Government Administration to cope with the fiscal crisis confronting welfare states. If greater efficiency could be won from public services despite static real expenditures, welfare objectives might be sustained. Since 1975, that prospect has lost out, first to razor gangs and then to outsourcing and privatisation as Whitlam’s ALP successors dissociated themselves from his largesse. R. J. Hawke got Gough out of the way in 1983 by dispatching him to Paris as ambassador to UNESCO. On that eunuch’s couch, he could not generate invidious comparisons.

This switch on economic policy is clear from the altered meaning of the word “reform”. Under Whitlam, “reform” required governmental involvement to advance social equality for gender, generations and regions, as well as class.

Under Hawke and Keating, ‘reform’ meant economic rationalism with the sell-off of government instrumentalities, de-regulation of the financial sector, self-regulation for corporations, the slackening of controls on overseas ownership and a diminution of workplace safeguards. The slashing of tariffs was the one area where Hawke and Keating were faithful to a Whitlam initiative.

Comparable Countries

Typically, he opened The Whitlam Government with an account of International Affairs, which occupied a fifth of the volume, more than twice the next longest chapter, no less tellingly devoted to The Law. Those domains were linked because he deployed the foreign affairs power in the constitution to expand Commonwealth activity. Moreover, international relations was the domain where he could act without passing a law through a hostile Senate. Like Dr Evatt, Whitlam might have been more successful as joint Foreign Minister and Attorney-General than as prime minister. In that case, and again like Evatt, he would have been vigorous in endeavouring to subvert his leader.

Whitlam formed his foreign policies during a time when Australia’s security partnership was the South-East Asian Treaty Organisation, a ramshackle of colonial powers and regional dictatorships. His reappraisal coincided with the Nixon-Kissinger redirection of US containment in Asia, notably the decision to recognise Maotse-tung’s “bandits” as the government of China.

Whitlam in China
The White House was less pleased with Whitlam’s willingness to consider the Soviet Union as just another state with legitimate interests around the globe.

Whitlam’s view of the world was remote from the skepticism voiced by anti-Vietnam activists about Washington’s virtue, or reliability as an ally. After he won the Labor leadership following the electoral debacle of 1966, he argued that Australian regulars had to stay in Vietnam in order to help the US extricate itself from that quagmire. He is often credited with withdrawing the conscripts, yet all but a handful of professional advisors had been back since 1971.

Whitlam did not disturb the US spy bases here until the weeks leading up to his dismissal when he outed a CIA controller at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs.

From the 1940s, Whitlam’s support for nationalist revolutions had committed him to Indonesia, first against the Dutch over West Irian, and later in Portuguese Timor. That second decision remains the canker for those most anxious to admire him. Typically, he has never apologised. His masterly inactivity in regard to Timor contrasted with his drive not to be beaten by Portugal into the dishonour of being the world’s last colonial overlord. “If history were to obliterate the whole of my public career”, Whitlam wrote, “save my contribution to the independence of a democratic PNG, I should rest content”.


On the domestic front, none of Whitlam’s redirections of policy had more potential for transforming the Australian way of life than his integration of policies for cities, housing and transport. To that end he created the Department of Urban and Regional Development (DURD), which rivaled Treasury as a source of advice on investment and employment. In similar vein, he later merged Immigration with Labour, tying population with employment.

Elected in 1952 for Werriwa in Sydney’s south-west, Whitlam had lived with the hardship of suburbs short on basic services. Daily life at 32 Albert street, Cabramatta, stiffened his suspicion that an affluent society could be equitable only through public utilities, whether libraries or sewerage. Those experiences stimulated his preference for Local over State government, twisting a new strand into Labor’s tilting the federal compact towards Canberra.

Paralleling Whitlam’s emphasis on the suburbs was his attempt to relieve pressure on the capital cities by decentralisation. Albury-Wodonga became the first regional growth centre. Location has kept those twin cities expanding, but with fewer of the amenities envisaged in 1973. Whitlam’s urban consciousness lingers in the 2001 agreement between the State governments to install a single local government across the border. He had lost enthusiasm for developing the North until his neglect immediately after Cyclone Tracy made him over-compensate by blundering into the reconstruction of Darwin.

Although Cabramatta has become “Little Saigon”, multi-culturalism appeared in The Whitlam Government only where a Liberal minister for Immigration, Billie Snedden, had opposed its assumptions in 1969. When Whitlam’s first Minister for Immigration, Al Grassby, proposed a “new slogan for Australia” it was the cumbersome phrase “unity in diversity”. The association of Grassby with multi-culturalism came during the five years he served as Community Relations Commissioner under Fraser who used the tag to attract the ethnic vote, just as Whitlam boasted he had done.

The Arts

Earlier Labor leaders, notably Dr Evatt, had personal commitments to the arts, yet culture had remained an electoral asset for the Liberals until Whitlam. Menzies associated the middle class – his “forgotten people” – with the life of the mind “which marks us off from the beast”. In 1975, the 85-year old Sydney North Shore painter Grace Crowley told a journalist: “We were all too superior for Labor, but Labor I vote for now”. The swing within the arts community came with a fresh wave of practitioners as well from an enlarged audience, both dramatised in David Williamson’s Don’s Party (1971). Establishment of the Australia Council with what now looks like lavish funding, and the 1973 purchase of Jackson Pollock’s “Blue Poles”, consolidated that enthusiasm. In retirement, the Whitlams became opening-night fixtures.

Whitlam’s pouring of earth into the hands of Gurindji elder, Vincent Lingari, inscribed land rights as a distinguishing mark of his administration. Yet his government did not override Queensland’s Bjelke-Petersen on Aboriginal matters, a sign of the ALP’s continuing reluctance to use the powers authorised by the 1967 referendum to make special laws.
Medibank-cum-Medicare remains the most approved of the Whitlam legacies, one which has been tampered with but which would be electoral suicide to abolish in favour of the voluntary schemes and charity so beloved by Howard. Three aspects of Whitlam’s initiative, however, are nowadays overlooked.

First, the Commonwealth takeover of hospital funding is a dead letter.

Secondly, Medibank marginalised the community health centres proposed by the caucus committee of medicos who thought public and preventive approaches more beneficial than the guaranteeing of doctors’ incomes.

Thirdly, the levy was a flat-rate impost on income taxes, which are themselves calculated after deducting expenses and other dodges. The levy has become part of the drift away from policies based on “needs”.

In another unintended retreat from equality, Whitlam abolished tertiary education fees, against the advice of his Minister for Education, Kim Beazley senior, who had benefited from the West Australian system that Whitlam cited as his model. This contradiction of Labor’s “needs” program sparked little criticism because, according to Beazley, “the beneficiaries were the most articulate and influential sectors”. Beazley snr had wanted more Commonwealth scholarships for lower income groups. That removal of fees brought little change to the class composition of tertiary enrollments, though it helped older women to graduate. The fee abolition also cleared the way under Hawke’s rationalism to HECS charges.

Whitlam displayed a Menziesian attachment to middle-class presumptions when he illustrated his vision of equality: “I want every kid to have a desk, with a lamp, and his own room to study”. Trained to value equality before the law, as in one vote one value, he pursued equality of opportunities more than of outcomes. Hence, the need for affirmative action for women to redress the social circumstances that lie beneath injustices surprised him. His socialism required a larger public sector, never a reallocation of wealth.


Reacting against the defeat of the 1944 referendum to extend Commonwealth powers, RAAF navigator Whitlam had projected a career in politics. In opposition, he campaigned to modernise the Constitution. He brought himself to nation-wide prominence within the Labor movement through his 1957 Chifley Memorial Lecture, The Constitution versus Labor. He argued that for as long as the courts ruled nationalisation to be unconstitutional, the ALP’s Socialist Objective could form no part of its electoral program.

The ALP has since moved so far from even the watered-down Democratic Socialism adopted in 1957 that the Party’s fixation throughout the 1950s on Court rulings against nationalisation (Section 92) now seems pre-Copernican. Yet in the late 1980s, the High Court restored the words “trade and commerce between the States shall be absolutely free” to the founders’ limited intent of banning imposts on inter-State tariffs. One bar to nationalisation was thus being lowered while the ALP was moving towards the sell-off of the people’s bank.

In place of nationalisation, Whitlam breathed life into governmental enterprises through tied grants to the States (Section 96). He also reinstated the Inter-State Commission (Section 101), to adjudicate and administer trade and commerce – as it could now do over competition policy, through it is part of no party’s agenda.

Republicanism is one area where there has been no retreat from “The Program” because, as Whitlam confessed, he “did not become committed to the Australian republic” until the reserve powers of the crown injured his own prospects. Instead, he had prided himself on his punctiliousness in regard to Royal Style and Titles, treating the Windsors “as if they were his equals”.

How paradoxical then that a parliamentarian so respectful of procedural niceties should be laid low by a big-C Conservative disregard for constitutional conventions. The dismissal on 11 November 1975 initiated the Citizens for Democracy on their campaign to rewrite the Constitution. At the 1999 referendum, both minimalists and direct-electionists overlooked the need to deprive the Senate of its power to block supply and to remove the reserve powers of the head of state, whether as president or governor-general.

“More matter, less art” Whitlam told his speechwriters. Had he drafted those addresses himself, the texts would have been as distinguished, if not more so. The arts of oratory were essential to his legacy. Times have been achanging. In the early 1970s, journalists were aspiring enough to revel in Whitlam’s historical analogies – “Tiberius with a telephone” for McMahon’s conniving – and an arcane vocabulary – “balletomaniac” for Jim Killen’s alarm about KGB agents pirouetting among the touring Bolshoi dancers. The Whitlam legacy will continue to shrink as fewer get his jokes.

Whitlam quoted Machiavelli to disparage those of his followers who were lukewarm in defending “a new order of things”. That charge could never be made against his leadership. In defeat and disgrace, Whitlam remained an interventionist. Trying to lead the opposition again between 1975 and 1977, he proposed reforms which would not require huge outlays. In 1985, he foresaw that if Labor were not the “great party of Australian reform” it would be a nothing.

WHITLAM 11 Novemnber 1975
Omnium consensu capax imperii nisi imperasset. Much as Edward Gough Whitlam would have prided himself on being able to translate Tacitus’s remark that everyone had thought Servius Sulpicius Galba (c.3BC-69AD) possessed the makings of an emperor until he ascended the throne, the Whitlam vanity would have been affronted by any suggestion that the same judgement applied to him. Success at parliamentary politics requires an immunity to self-reflection. The Whitlam wit could be self-mocking, never self-deprecating. Hauteur outdistanced grandeur.

Among true believers, the Whitlam reputation was secured by his dismissal on 11 November 1975, to survive even his involvement with a scheme to finance the ALP’s 1975 campaign by borrowing from the Iraqis. Thereafter – apart from East Timor – Whitlam kept to the high ground so successfully that by the mid-1980s his arrival at operas-in-the-park would be greeted by a standing ovation.

The Whitlam conviction that he was “destined to lead’ was not shaken by three failed attempts to be elected to public office before winning a federal seat in 1952. His advancement came through the numbers game. Hence, evaluation of his career must attend to his wheeler-dealing as well as to the afflatus. In 1968, the Whitlam arrogance crossed the auguries of his increasing eminence.

By supporting Brian Harradine, now senator, as a Tasmanian delegate to the ALP’s Federal executive, Whitlam provoked a leadership spill during which several of his votaries in caucus switched to Jim Cairns to remind Gough that the Labor party was not his fiefdom. In 1970, he allied himself with erstwhile enemies to dislodge the ALP’s Victorian Central Executive.

At the polling booths, Whitlam’s triumph was to gain seventeen-seats in 1969. Far from demolishing the hapless Billy McMahon in 1972, Whitlam fell just short of a majority of the primary votes. His government was returned in 1974 with a reduced majority and no improvement in its Senate numbers, despite buying off one senator with an ambassadorship.

Vanquished in 1975, he mounted another verbally coruscating campaign in 1977, to achieve Labor’s lowest percentage of the primary vote since 1931. Stepping aside as leader, he took another world tour before retiring from the parliament.

When Whitlam had canvassed for the deputy-leadership of the parliamentary Labor Party in early 1960, his caucus critics mocked him as “the young brolga”, or as “white-tie-and-tails”. The characteristics that offended the old guard on the right and left were making Whitlam the hope of younger activists, those offspring of the working class who had embarked on higher education and were seeking a Labor leader to express their professionalism in a tone of voice flattering to their aspirations, matching the Menzies vowels and cadences.

Whitllam did not take the lead against White Australia, where the left-wing Victorian front-bencher Dr Jim Cairns risked expulsion from the Labor Party in 1960 by associating with the then explosive proposal for annual quotas of a few hundred non-European immigrants.

Whitlam, however, did chance his leadership by supporting state aid to church schools. He sought an end to the sectarianism that had soiled our public life for more than a century, and, as an agnostic, hoped to rescue the poor from a cash-strapped Catholic system which, by providing a third-rate education, was piling ignorance on superstition. He bent some rules to get there and, on technical grounds, merited the March 1966 motion to expel him.

Later in 1966, Whitlam spiked the guns of his leader, Arthur Calwell, who was calling for the “immediate and unconditional withdrawal” of Australian forces from Vietnam. Whitlam doubted the timing, a malleability which the media magnified to deepen Labor’s defeat.

Once elected leader himself in 1967, Whitlam favoured the presence of Australian troops in order to draw Washington towards a negotiated settlement. Despite this temporising, Whitlam would collect the credit for the withdrawal although by the time he came to office in December 1972 only a handful of advisers remained. The last conscript had come home fourteen months before.

Yet, the indulgences granted to Whitlam during the autumn of his life were not just another case of our not knowing what a good thing he had been until we saw those who came after. He merited praise for carrying his vision of a modern Australia into practice.

Indeed, the most widespread complaint about the Whitlam governments was their doing too much too quickly.

He came to office three years too late. That delay intensified his determination to make up for the time lost by the Coalition, whether through Country Party sectionalism in the economy, or under DLP blackmail, via its allocation of second preferences, over foreign policy and social issues.

Once in office, Whitlam recognised that the mainland of China had been governed by the Communists since 1949. He accelerated the Liberals’ belated endorsement of the de-colonisation of Papua New Guinea. He had escaped from the national delusion about “developing the North” into an innovatory focus on urban development, spurred by his representing an unsewered and unsealed electorate in Sydney’s western. He welcomed the women’s movement, supporting the equal pay case and placing the Office of the Status of Women under his direction. Establishment of the Australia Council rescued promotion of the arts from the hydra-headed planning that the Coalition had applied in setting up a Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Under his government, each had its own ministry, and – for a time – were not disparaged as bush, boongs and bludgers.

In granting Land Rights to the Gurindji in 1975, he poured soil into the hands of Vincent Lingari but let the application of comparable laws to Queensland slip through his fingers by not daring to use the constitutional powers gained at the 1967 referendum to override premier Bjelke-Peterson.

The funding of social reforms from bracket creep in the income tax rates had been possible before the first oil price shock in 1973 exposed a fiscal crisis in the welfare state. An era of feckless spending had closed around the world. Whitlam again lost followers in caucus. In addition, his failure to return from overseas after the Darwin cyclone on Christmas Eve 1974 contrasted with the warmth displayed there by deputy prime minister Cairns. After an ore carrier knocked down Hobart’s main bridge in January 1975, Whitlam declared that there could be no protection against incompetent masters. Cartoonists depicted the prime minister on the bridge of his own floundering ship of state.

When the editor and economist T. M. Fitzgerald delivered the 1977 John Curtin Memorial Lecture, he identified two qualities essential in a successful Labor leader. One is fellowship; the other an appreciation that, once the economy goes awry, little else can be put to rights. Whitlam, he implied, possessed neither attribute.

Whitlam never comprehended the economy as a system, though he presumably knew that BHP made steel. He was not alone in his incompetence. He accepted the 25 per cent across-the-board reduction in tariffs in mid-1973 on the advice of academics who had not recognised that an appreciating Australian dollar was making a cut of that size. Stung by attacks on his economic illiteracy, he defended himself by pointing out that he had developed Section 96 of the Constitution so that he could spend even more. This boast confirmed Dr Coombs’s view that Whitlam suffered from the lawyer’s disease that “you pass a law and you make the world different”.

Whitlam’s parliamentary skills were rhetorical more than tactical. A nincompoop such as Fred Daly could make the running around the House. The Whitlam delight in flaying Malcolm Fraser at question time in the weeks during which the Coalition blocked supply in October-November 1975 stimulated the Whitlam faith in the transforming power of his eloquence. The Whitlam conviction that his opponents, in both the ALP and the Coalition, were small-minded or troglodyte, fed his hubris. As he drove to Yarralumla around noon on Tuesday, 11 November, he knew that he had Fraser beat.

Whitlam then neglected to alert Labor’s Senate leaders to his sacking, so that they unwittingly voted supply for Fraser’s caretaker administration. Instead of warning his ministers, he sped home to consume a huge steak. One source of this confusion of appetites was that, from the mid-1960s, Whitlam had competed for attention with Labor’s Senate leader, Lionel Murphy. Whitlam’s blind spot over Senate powers on that crucial afternoon came after he had blinded himself with envy.

Later that day he called on his followers to maintain a rage that he had not himself demonstrated at the moment of his dismissal.

That restraint must have puzzled the journalist who had observed that Whitlam “did not become angry unless he was hurt personally”.

Why, then, did he not swear at Kerr, or even raise his voice, let alone punch him on the nose? He had, after all, thrown a glass of water over the Minister for External Affairs, Paul Hasluck, in the House of Representatives a decade earlier.

How many other powerful men would be so docile upon being sacked by someone to whom they had given a sinecure?

In pondering Whitlam’s personality and politics, that non-blow is as elemental a clue as any cur that did not yelp. Shock and grief set in soon after, leaving him sleepless until the weekend of the 15-16th November. Meanwhile, his platform speeches went over and over the minutiae of the eleventh as if seeking a way to talk himself out of reality. Marks of depression manifested themselves throughout 1976.

An Athenian would have seen the Whitlam sacking as the gods’ retribution for his sacrifice of the Timorese, an impiety which forever blighted his rehabilitation. Yet, in the sweep of his fifty-five years in public life, his support for Jakarta’s oppression was just one more area in which he failed to keep up with events. From the late 1940s until the early 1960s, he had supported Indonesia’s struggles against Dutch colonialism, picturing himself as progressive in contrast to Calwell’s stirring the racist possum against Indonesian ambitions. In 1974, when East Timorese claimed independence from Portugal, Whitlam continued to view Indonesia through the prism of his own anti-colonialist past rather than through Jakarta’s militarised present.

The impatience of a colossus with the scraps of a once mighty kingdom contributed to his support for the takeover of East Timor by its much larger neighbour was. His prejudice about size had led him into the electorally dumb recognition of the Soviet incorporation of the three Baltic states.

This passion to tidy up the world parallelled a centralist mentality in domestic politics. The Whitlam identification of social equality with growth in Canberra’s bureaucracy is the least attractive part of his legacy. He pushed for a centralised Medibank in preference to community health centres, the option favoured by the five medical practitioners in caucus. That the small may be beautiful formed no part of his make-up.

Whitlam improved the draft speeches prepared for him, adding both art and matter. Reporting his public addresses and asides allowed journalists to feel as clever as he, as well stocked with Latin tags or historical analogies, and as encompassing in their minds as this talking encyclopaedia. Age wearied his audiences as he grew to resemble the disgraced English politician Sir Charles Dilke, of whom an earlier Australian prime minister, Alfred Deakin, had quipped: “Knowledge was his forte and omniscience his foible.” To celebrate the centenary of the foundation of the Labor Party in 1891, Whitlam bemused his Balmain listeners by lecturing them for over an hour on the joys of standardising rail gauges.

Hawke’s dispatch of Whitlam to Paris as ambassador to UNESCO elevated him to an office commensurate with his talents, and provided the retraining scheme needed for his final career as a guide through antique lands.
Bulletin, November 2000

1974 election – second best?

‘If that other lot win, I’m not going back’, one of my fellow Australian travellers decided as we perched on top of the Pyramid of the Moon, looking down the Avenue of the Dead, outside Mexico City on 22 May 1974.

That other lot were the Liberal and Country Parties. What my friend feared was that, in a poll held four days earlier, the Coalition had defeated the first Labor government in twenty-three years, though the outcome would remain unclear for the worst part of that week.

The ALP was returned, but with a slight drop in its support and with a majority in the House of five, down from nine. Among the casualties was Immigration Minister Al Grassby who had been defeated by issues that festered until One Nation.

Control of the Senate eluded both sides, which was fair enough since a scheme to deliver a majority to Labor had been the trigger for a double dissolution instead of only the half Senate poll that was due. Queensland DLP Senator Vince Gair was unhappy that his party had removed him as leader. Gough Whitlam took pity on this Labor rat and appointed him Ambassador to Eire. Gair’s resignation meant that Queensland would have to elect six Senators, and not five, making it easier for Labor to gain an extra seat there.

Or so it seemed until that ‘Bible-bashing bastard’ Bjelke-Petersen issued the writs for the half-Senate election before the spherical Senator Gair could roll himself out of a Coalition beer-and-prawn night along the corridor to the Senate President’s suite to tender his resignation. Labor lost both credibility and the chance to pick up that extra place. The Coalition seized on ‘bribery and corruption’ to block supply. Whitlam crashed through by securing a double dissolution. Gair’s party lost all its Senate places and, after twenty years, disappeared as a political force.

The only person who did not accept that he had lost anything was opposition leader Bill Snedden who declared ‘we were not defeated’, prompting the wits to remark that he just come second. No mockers appeared on the Labor side where May 18 was another famous victory, not as memorable as 2 December 1972 yet confirmation that the Whitlam government possessed ‘a certain grandeur’.
Or so it also seemed. Before another fifteen months had passed, more calamities than enough had befallen the party, the government and the people to prompt commentators to wonder whether Labor might have done better to have run second.

‘What if?’ is not idle when speculation illuminates the significance of what did happen.
Federal politics has its crop of occasions about which to propose ‘what if?’. What if the ALP candidate for Moreton in 1961 had been called Donnell instead of O’Donnell and so had garnered the donkey votes to topple Menzies? How would the Ming Dynasty appear today? And would prime minister Calwell have sent regulars into Vietnam?

The closest parallel to May 1974 was the landslide to Labor in the 1929 snap poll. What if the non-Labor government had run its full term to 1931? The Tories would have carried the opprobrium from the Great Depression, bringing Labor to office in 1931 as the cure, not scourging it in the wilderness as a scapegoat.

When we ask ‘what if Whitlam had lost in ’74?’, we know for certain that several things would not have happened.

At the level of personalities, we can be pretty sure that Snedden would not have appointed John Kerr Governor-General, and positive that Lionel Murphy would not have gone onto the High Court. Jim Cairns might not have employed Juni Morosi and R. J. Hawke would have sought another route to the Lodge. And, of course, Ambassador Gair would have had his credentials withdrawn and thus not been able to make so many impressions on the bottoms of colleens, as complained of in a confidential report to Foreign Affairs.

Another clear casualty of a Coalition victory would have been passage at the Joint Sitting of both Houses in July of the Bills that Whitlam had used to secure a double dissolution. Medibank would have been still-born.

Above all, Labor would not have presided over the end of full employment. The Loans Affair would not have clear-felled the cabinet before culminating in the ‘reprehensible circumstances’ that Malcolm Fraser went looking for to justify blocking Supply again in October 1975.

Stretching the scenario further, it is reasonable to assume that the electorate would then have blamed the Coalition government for the death of the lucky country during 1975 and swung back to the ALP at elections late in 1976 or early 1977.
That interregnum should have let Whitlam hone the managerial skills of his shadow ministers, in particular, cutting the cabinet back from twenty-seven to a dozen. Caucus would meanwhile have absorbed the idea of a fiscal crisis of the state, learned to tailor reform to an era of economic restraint and no longer expected that the income growth to supply tax revenues for big-spending programs.

Instead,Labor leaders had to learn from their 1974-75 debacle, returning to office in 1983 determined to target welfare expenditures and to lower taxes.

Whitlam’s return as prime minister in 1977 would have left him with the reputation of just another technocrat guiding capitalism, not as the betrayed hero. In 1979, the party might have shamed him out of recognising Indonesia’s incorporation of East Timor.
Without Kerr’s Coup, when would a Republican movement have got going?

The effects on the Liberal-Country Party of not coming second would have been as petty and profound as those in Labor’s ranks.

Even with the authority of the prime ministership, Snedden was never going to best Whitlam in the parliament or Malcolm Fraser in the cabinet and party rooms. The leadership contests that had bedevilled the Liberals since before Holt was lost at sea would have erupted as Snedden tried to steer a derailing economy, with Fraser and Andrew Peacock scheming against him and each other. Without a Whitlam administration to beat up, Bjelke-Petersen might never have fancied himself as prime minister.

The Liberals would also have had to cope with Country Party demands over the value of the currency. In those days, the government set the exchange rate within the parameters of the balance of payments. The last years of the Coalition had been torn by brawls over revaluation. Too high a dollar made farm exports less competitive. When I bought travellers cheques for Mexico in April 1974, the Australian dollar was at its all time high against the US dollar. Two of ours would buy three of theirs, the inverse of today’s rates. A Coalition cabinet might have split at once over the pace and extent of devaluation.

Most significantly, the Coalition government would not have been burdened with what John Howard identified as ‘the extent to which the pre-election trauma of 1975 imposed a sense of unease, illegitimacy and hesitancy on a government election with a record majority’. Whether the Coalition would have used its clear conscience to deregulate the banks, float the dollar, end central wage-fixing, privatise Telecom and slash protection between 1974 and 1977 is unlikely.

The Coalition and our country have paid a price for blaming the economic collapse on Whitlam, socialism, scandals and incompetence. No matter how ignorant or ill-conceived were Labor’s economic policies, they merely compounded the problems; they could not cause them. Billy McMahon’s retaining the prime ministership in 1972 would not have rescued the world’s monetary regime or averted the oil price shock.

For as long as the Dow Jones glides towards infinity and the Japanese keep hiding their losses, John Howard will not wish that he had come second.


2. Pilger

The forgotten coup

Pilger from Truth-out

Australia’s deference to the United States makes Britain, by comparison, seem a renegade. During the American invasion of Vietnam – which Australia had pleaded to join – an official in Canberra voiced a rare complaint to Washington that the British knew more about US objectives in that war than its antipodean comrade-in-arms. The response was swift: “We have to keep the Brits informed to keep them happy. You are with us come what may.”

This dictum was rudely set aside in 1972 with the election of the reformist Labor government of Gough Whitlam. Although not regarded as of the left, Whitlam – now in his 98th year – was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride, propriety and extraordinary political imagination. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country’s resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to “buy back the farm” and speak as a voice independent of London and Washington.

On the day after his election, Whitlam ordered that his staff should not be “vetted or harassed” by the Australian security organization, ASIO – then, as now, beholden to Anglo-American intelligence.

When his ministers publicly condemned the Nixon/Kissinger administration as “corrupt and barbaric,” Frank Snepp, a CIA officer stationed in Saigon at the time, recalled: “We were told the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators.”

Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap – a joint US-Australian satellite tracking station in the center of Australia – later told me a “threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House. Consequences were inevitable . . . a kind of Chile was set in motion.”

The CIA had just helped General Pinochet crush the democratic government of another reformer, Salvador Allende, in Chile.

In 1974, the White House sent Marshall Green to Canberra as ambassador. Green was an imperious, very senior and sinister figure in the State Department who worked in the shadows of America’s “deep state.” Known as the “coupmaster,” he had played a central role in the 1965 coup against President Sukarno in Indonesia – which cost up to a million lives. One of his first speeches in Australia was to the Australian Institute of Directors and was described by an alarmed member of the audience as “an incitement to the country’s business leaders to rise against the government”.

Pine Gap’s top-secret messages were decoded in California by a CIA contractor, TRW.

One of the decoders was a young Christopher Boyce, an idealist who, troubled by the “deception and betrayal of an ally,” became a whistleblower. Boyce revealed that the CIA had infiltrated the Australian political and trade union elite and referred to the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as “our man Kerr.”

In his black top hat and medal-laden mourning suit, Kerr was the embodiment of imperium. He was the Queen of England’s Australian viceroy in a country that still recognized her as head of state. His duties were ceremonial; yet Whitlam – who appointed him – was unaware of or chose to ignore Kerr’s longstanding ties to Anglo-American intelligence.

The Governor-General was an enthusiastic member of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, described by Jonathan Kwitny of The Wall Street Journal in his book, The Crimes of Patriots, as “an elite, invitation-only group . . . exposed in Congress as being founded, funded and generally run by the CIA.” The CIA “paid for Kerr’s travel, built his prestige . . . Kerr continued to go to the CIA for money.”

In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain’s MI6 had long been operating against his government. “The Brits were actually decoding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office,” he said later.

One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, “We knew MI6 was bugging cabinet meetings for the Americans.”

In interviews in the 1980s, with the American investigative journalist Joseph Trento, executive officers of the CIA disclosed that the “Whitlam problem” had been discussed “with urgency” by the CIA’s director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield, and that “arrangements” were made. A deputy director of the CIA told Trento: “Kerr did what he was told to do.”

In 1975, Whitlam learned of a secret list of CIA personnel in Australia held by the permanent head of the Australian Defence Department, Sir Arthur Tange – a deeply conservative mandarin with unprecedented territorial power in Canberra. Whitlam demanded to see the list. On it was the name, Richard Stallings, who, under cover, had set up Pine Gap as a provocative CIA installation. Whitlam now had the proof he was looking for.

On November 10, 1975, he was shown a top-secret telex message sent by ASIO in Washington. This was later sourced to Theodore Shackley, head of the CIA’s East Asia Division and one of the most notorious figures spawned by the Agency. Shackley had been head of the CIA’s Miami-based operation to assassinate Fidel Castro and station chief in Laos and Vietnam. He had recently worked on the “Allende problem”.

Shackley’s message was read to Whitlam. Incredibly, it said that the prime minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country.

The day before, Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Defence Signals Directorate, Australia’s NSA whose ties to Washington were, and remain, binding. He was briefed on the “security crisis.” He had then asked for a secure line and spent 20 minutes in hushed conversation.

On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers,” Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The problem was solved.

See as well

Update: Much is to be re-recorded about Whitlam’s Dismissal. I was upset to discover High Court Justice Anthony Mason also advised GG Kerr as well as Chief Justice Barwick to dismiss Whitlam, so I painted this of Kerr, Barwick and Mason celebrating their dismissal of Whitlam and trampling on our human rights. Photo taken at the Annual Human Rights Exhibition in Darwin.

Human Rights

(Some viewers do not like the yellow colours – too sickening, but the Dismissal was sickening!)

I add that I have a Law/Politics Degree from the University of Adelaide. I specialised in Constitutional Law. There is no doubt that before the Dismissal the Constitutional law was clear: that the Governor General had no right to dismiss the elected PM, that is, Kerr was to only follow the legally the elected PM’s advice – here no dismissal; the so-called ‘reserve powers’ to dismiss here did not apply.
As is stated above Whitlam knew this but did not refuse to be dismissed! He should have refused and defied the GG.

But the law is politics and is power and so the combination of ruling class forces – the corporations, the right wing, Fraser, Murdoch, CIA and Judges etc – acted together to dismiss the democratically elected Whitlam and was/became the Constitutional law. Much to the people’s disadvantage and now not changed by the ALP. Another time for further debate….

Further updates:

Gough Whitlam ordered ASIO to stop talking to CIA in lead-up his dismissal

7.30 By Michael Brissenden

New revelations on the Dismissal: Fraser, High Ct judges, CIA and the Queen knew…


Vale Brian T Manning – celebration update Mon, 04 Nov 2013 01:12:43 +0000 In Darwin, the memorial service and celebration of Brian T. Manning’s life was on Wed 13th Nov hosted by the MUA at Stokes Hill Wharf at 3pm followed by a wake at the Railway Club in Parap, with The Hot n’ Cold Big Band. From Brian Manning jnr ‘In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the restoration of my Dads old Bedford. I am looking at setting up a crowdfunding site where people can make donations to the restoration or failing that a replicated model of Dads old truck which holds a significant place in the Territory’s History. Donations for the Trucks restoration can be deposited to:

BSB 802884 Acc # 54667S1 NT Special Purpose Fund
Update: Bedford truck going to Museum
Photo of Brian Manning (right)

Brian T Manning

Brian T Manning

Update: Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off, when 200 Aboriginal stockmen and their families walked off Wave Hill Station, 600 kilometres south of Darwin, demanding better working and living conditions.
What started as an industrial dispute would become the first successful Aboriginal land rights claim and a legendary civil rights campaign.

Memorial: Over 250 people gathered at the Stokes Hill Wharf in Darwin on that steamy afternoon to remember and celebrate Brian’s life. The ceremony was hosted by Thomas Mayer, Secretary of the Darwin Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (see below).

The ceremony ended with close family friends and the children and grandchildren who made wonderful statements, and Jon and Brian Jr performed a song ‘Freedom’, especially composed for their father.

Brian Manning Jr committed to maintain his father’s life and legacy, on behalf of his descendants. He urged them to be active, do what they enjoyed, make a contribution where possible, develop wide interests during their lives, work at many vocations, develop skills, be eager to learn, and most of all love their family.

After a heavy downpour, a group of Gurindji women performed a Bukulatjpi family dance from Galiwin’ku as half of Brian’s ashes were scattered into Darwin Harbour. The other half will be scattered at Wave Hill at the next anniversary of the famous 1966 Walk Off.

A group of 20 Gurindji people came all the way from Galiwin’ku to pay their respect, led by Maurie Jarpata Ryan, now Chairperson of the Central Land Council, and Jimmy Wave Hill. Maurie said that Brian helped make the land rights movement in the NT, and make modern Australia, and that he should have a state funeral. Jimmy Wave Hill remembered Brian driving the Bedford truck with much-needed supplies to the river bed at Wattie Creek. “He saw us living in those little tin boxes, and he didn’t turn his back,” said Jimmy. “He never turned away from us”.

Bill Day was also a Watersider with Brian and also a founder of the NT Aboriginal Rights Council. He related Brian’s strong and constructive way of building the campaign, and also many long drives in “The Truck”.

Jan Richardson also used a story of Brian going to Melbourne in 1961 to find out about the structure and rules of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines & Torres Strait Islanders to show his self-effacing character, his profound sense of equality with everyone. others made their contributions.

On behalf of the SEARCH Foundation, Peter Murphy who had come from Sydney made a tribute and also read a statement by President Rob Durbridge and Coordinator Penny Sara.

“Dear friends, on this day of sadness and celebration of the life of Brian Manning

On behalf of the Committee and members of the SEARCH Foundation, we send condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Brian Manning. We join with you to celebrate a wonderful life lived to the full, and to commemorate Brian’s many contributions to the struggle for a better world and a just society.

Brian went to the Northern Territory as a young man and for six decades was involved in left and progressive movements in the Territory, Australia and internationally. For activists in progressive movements around Australia over more than 40 years ,Brian was well known for his principled and selfless support for some of the most important causes in Australian society.

Brian’s work in support of the Gurindji and other Indigenous peoples in the NT, in solidarity with the independence struggle of the East Timorese people, for the conditions and rights of workers, particularly on the Darwin waterfront, and ending the war in Vietnam, will forever stand as testament to him and his comrades.

Brian’s actions in hiding Malayan pearl divers facing deportation from Darwin in 1961 and the successful national campaign to allow them to ‘stayput’ contributed to the eventual demise of the White Australia policy. Brian Manning The ‘Stayput’ Malayans

The practical support he organized for the Gurindji during their historic walk-off and strike in 1966 was a crucial element in their eventual victory over the Vesteys pastoral company and the granting of their land rights by the Whitlam Labor Government.

Similarly, Brian’s courageous, dedicated and skillful organization of the illegal radio link with the Fretilin independence movement was a crucial international solidarity action that contributed to victory of the independence movement after 25 years of Indonesian occupation.

A member of the Communist Party from the 1950s, Brian knew how to work with others to build broad support and effective movements for progressive causes.

Brian fully supported the CPA’s 1967 adoption of a democratic vision of socialism and its subsequent condemnation of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia that crushed Alexander Dubcek’s attempt to build a democratic “socialism with a human face”.

SEARCH and former CPA members around Australia are proud to have worked and been associated with Brian Manning. While we deeply mourn his passing, we salute his many contributions that have left a permanent mark in Australian life.

SEARCH will discuss the establishment of a permanent memorial that can continue to support the causes to which Brian contributed so much, which we are sure he would commend.

Peter Murphy, former Coordinator of SEARCH, is able to attend on our behalf and speak about Brian’s role at the commemoration. We thank the family for the invitation to contribute to this testimonial.
Rob Durbridge
Penny Sara

After the main speeches I contributed my condolences. I arrived three years ago in Darwin and Brian had been tipped off I was coming and to give me a report. I knocked on his door, and sat down for three hours to hear the story of his political life most of which was recorded at this service. I recounted how Brian was well enough to present his story of the historic Wave Hill strike and land rights struggle on 25th September 2013 at the Australian Curriculum Studies Association Living History session in Darwin, with Ted Egan singer and former Chief Administrator NT, Japarta Ryan Central Lands Council and Professor Kathryn Moyle, Charles Darwin University.

I am proud to have met and listened to Brian Manning’s stories and politics in Darwin. He was instructive in his political actions as a Communist member of CPA and the Search Foundation;
as a militant unionist Wharfie in Darwin Secretary WWF- life member of MUA and founder of the NT Trades and Labor Council now Unions NT;

Brian strongly supported the BLF Green Bans movement; in the struggles such as banning uranium export and battling in the end his union leadership and the ACTU forcing the lifting of the bans; of how his political leadership in the union meant on the day of hearing of the jailing of Clarrie O’Shea wharfies immediately took solidarity strike action – that together with thousands of other workers and their unions meant the end of the penal powers against strikes – a failure of today’s union leaders he often was critical of;
of how to attract younger activists he had to make sure CPA meetings were not dominated by Wharfie issues; and in all these it was as his role as a Communist, how he worked with the CPA members and the southern leaders; the arguments against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia with fellow Communists on the waterfront; I bought to the ceremony a poster “How to Spot a Communist” -a favorite of Brian’s.

Brian told the story of his role in the Aboriginal Land Rights particularly the NT Council for Aboriginal Rights where he drew up the Constitution making sure aboriginal people controlled the organisation and his role in the historic Wave Hill strike and formation of the Land Rights struggle;
see Brian here on YouTube
The 6th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture Delivered by Brian Manning Charles Darwin University
23rd August 2002

Brian Manning’s speech on the 45th Anniversary of the Gurindji walk off and Gurindji Freedom day.

Ripples From Wave Hill

Brian Manning cited in the NT MUA branch news november 2011 and on the Wave Hill strike and land rights struggle
Featured in Gurindji Freedom Day

Brian was a critical historic player with his solidarity with the East Timor resistance in running the clanderstine radio links to the fighters in the mountains of East Timor and hailed as a hero by the East Timorese and Brian was remembered for his critical solidarity with the Timorese peoples, the Maubere peoples, and his fierce loyalty to FRETILIN, the independence party with whom he publicly aligned himself until the end; I was proud to be asked to read the following Fretilin tribute:
“Dear relatives and comrades

My thoughts are with all of you who are sharing the pain of loosing a special father, grandfather and a great comrade. I regret for not being able to be there to deliver my tribute to this companheiro de luta, comrade Brian Manning.

What can I say? There is no vocabulary that can describe Brian´s memorable work during his lifetime. Brian dedicated his life to support the struggle of oppressed and colonised people for freedom and independence as well as the rights of the workers and their respective families to have decent living standards.

I met Brian for the first time in 1976 and had the privilege to work with him on my special mission in Darwin as FRETILIN militant.

I witnessed his unequivocal dedication to our struggle for independence. He did it very consistently over the years. He decided to support FRETILIN goals unconditionally when many people hardly believed that the independence of Timor-Leste could ever be achieved. He was one of the main activists and comrades that worked very hard to maintain and re-establish the radio station in Darwin, the only link that FRETILIN had with the outside world, in the mid seventies. Through this radio link, news on many Indonesian atrocities reached the international community. Through this radio link, it was possible to receive messages on the resilience of the Maubere people, our determination to fight against the odds for our independence. The radio link was a very important mission at that time and Brian and other comrades made it possible, despite many constraints. He also contributed to the campaign for the independence of Timor-Leste trough other ways.

What Brian did for Timor-Leste is impregnated in the history of our struggle for freedom and Independence.
Member of Parliament and former PM
Member of the Central Committee and
National Political Commission of FRETILIN”

Brian Jr read a message from FRETILIN President Francisco Guterres ‘Lu Olo’: “In the most difficult times of our struggle, the Australian Government turned its back on us, but Brian Manning was always with us and gave us informative support, courage and determination for us to continue the struggle. FRETILIN has lost a great brother and friend. His soul will remain with the Maubere people”.

Brian got me to take the resistance receivers to Dili to present to the Fretilin Congress in 2011.

Brian was strong in his anti-Vietnam war activity. I was able to convince him to come to some recent political actions, against the US Darwin Marines base with Basewatch in Darwin – he described PM Gillard as a traitor to Australian Independence; Brian was in the photos Standing Up for the Burrup; he attended APHEDA NT Ged Kearney ACTU Darwin meeting: he participated in the SEARCH Foundation Darwin and his support for the Palestine struggle never wavered. He supported many social justice issues and was an advocate for the womens’ and gay liberation movements.

Brian put a lot of time into community work: Darwin Hospital Advisory Board, Commissioner on an Enquiry into Workers Compensation, Education Advisory Council, Founding Secretary NT Trades & Labour Council, Supervisor and Secretary of the Board of Crisis Line, President Stuart Park Primary School Council to mention a few. Brian was 2010 NT Senior Citizen of the Year.

He started work as a junior Clerk at the age of 17, and for the next 17 years, he searched for his niche. Brian worked as a storeman, builder’s labourer, carpenter’s offsider, spray painter, builder, panel beater, Patrol Officer, airport fireman, barman, club manager, steel erector, building contractor and rural worker.Brian said he found his niche in 1966 and became a Waterside Worker on his 34th birthday. He spent the next 35 years working on the Darwin Waterfront in various capacities, mostly as a Union Official and member of the National Council of the Union in the latter 4 years. When the CPA decided to join into the New Left Party in 1991, he joined the NLP and also became a member of the SEARCH Foundation.

I would have liked to have known him when he was young. He was a dance teacher and a musician and in the jazz era in his band. He loved jazz and was a great trumpet and sax player himself, and helped turn the Darwin May Day into a musical celebration. His son Brian played him some of his favorite trumpet pieces in the last days at the hospital and at the Railway Club in the Swing Band.

His MUA Secretary Thomas Mayor was with him.

Brian Manning2 final

From Thomas Mayor Secretary MUA NT: “Vale Brian Manning

Brian Manning, one of the Northern Territory’s most respected activists and trade unionists, passed away surrounded by friends and family at the age of 81.
Manning was a wharfie and staunch MUA member up until his retirement in 2002. He continued to be very active in the trade union movement until his passing. He was famous in the Top End for his social activism, most notably, perhaps, for his role during the Wave Hill Walk-Off.
In 1966 a group of Aboriginal people led by Vincent Lingiari walked off the job at Wave Hill Station, 600km south of Darwin, in protest of wages and conditions.
This action, supported by the trade union, was central in paving the way for Aboriginal land rights.
The struggle lasted for nine years until in 1975, then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, handed over a parcel of land to the local Gurindji people.
During this struggle, Manning and his J Series Bedford Truck, which is now heritage listed, supported the striking workers camped at Wattie Creek (Daguragu) by running supplies to and from Darwin.
On the 40th Anniversary of the Walk-Off Manning told the ABC his story: “I loaded this little Bedford with about three tonne of stuff. God, it took nearly two days. “I think we had to camp half way. The roads were shocking – there were no bitumen roads, there were diversions all around the place.
“They were making the roads, you see, so it was terribly corrugated. We managed to get there the second night about 9.30pm and drove down into the bed of the river where they were all camped, you know and there was great exhilaration by these people that help had arrived in respect of food.”
Manning also used his truck to erect an antenna to establish communications with the underground movement (the Fretilin) in East Timor in the early days of the Indonesian invasion. He campaigned strongly for East Timorese self-determination.
At the 2011 Fretilin Congress Manning was applauded by 700 Fretilin members for his efforts of coordinating the establishment of the communications in difficult conditions.
Manning, who in 2011 was unable to attend the congress due to the stress of his ailing health, was still greatly loved and revered by the East Timorese people.
Prior to the Wave Hill Walk-Off Brian Manning was instrumental in setting up the NT Council for Aboriginal Rights and he was also a co-founder in the NT Trades and Labour Council.
He was recognised for his hard work by becoming a Territory finalist for Australian senior of the year in 2010, the same year he was named Darwin citizen of the year, accepting his prize wearing a Morning Star tie in support of the West Papuans’ struggle for independence.
One of his most recent achievements was relocating and refurbishing the Seafarer’s Centre at Darwin while he was voluntary chair of the Darwin Port Welfare Committee.
Although he was too sick to attend the grand opening, he said he was very proud of the work he had done with the voluntary committee, in getting somewhere safe for visiting seafarers to recuperate.
Northern Territory Branch Secretary Thomas Mayor said that Manning was a supreme mentor and a pillar of support.
“When I first became an official, I knew where to go to learn the lay of the land both politically and practically,” Mayor said.
“One of the most difficult issues was worker’s compensation. I knew that Brian was on the Board of Inquiry held that was completed in 1984 and that set the foundations for workers compensation for Territorians today, so I went to him for guidance.
“I was also interested in working towards Indigenous advancement and of course Brian’s reputation in this area is second-to-none. I spent several afternoons with Brian talking about these issues. He never once tried to tell me what I should do, but his grasp on history and his no nonsense approach have guided me since.”

Brian Aaarons was unable to come to the Memorial. I read this out:
“I deeply regret that I am unable to attend today’s memorial for Brian Manning in Darwin. I am sure it will be a fitting tribute and memorial for Brian’s massive contributions to the many movements for a better world and a society of justice and dignity for all.
I first met Brian when I was a young delegate to the 1967 Congress of the Communist Party of Australia. Already at that time he was renowned for his work over the previous months organising practical and political support for the Gurindji people during their historic walk-off and strike at Wave Hill station. He spoke at the Congress about this struggle, and spent time with delegates from around the country to discuss ways of further strengthening the solidarity movement in support of the Gurindji. Over the next few years we were in regular contact in the national Save the Gurindji Campaign.

Thirty years later I was working for the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, which in 1996 inaugurated the Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture to mark the 30th anniversary of the Gurindji walk-off. The 1996 lecture was given by the Governor-General, Sir William Deane, and subsequent lectures were given by dignitaries such as Gough Whitlam. Fittingly Brian gave one of the lectures a few years later, covering the practical aspects of the Gurindji’s struggle, including the contributions of the solidarity support movement in which Brian himself was central.

In 2008-09 I was working in Darwin and saw Brian regularly. At that time he gave me an original hand-written letter which had been sent to him by my father, Laurie Aarons. Laurie was the CPA national secretary and wrote to Brian as the CPA Darwin branch secretary. The letter makes clear that the CPA was mobilizing nationally to support the Gurindji struggle.

Brian of course made many other contributions to a wide range of causes. As we mourn his passing we salute a life spent fighting for the interests of the poor and oppressed, against disadvantage and discrimination, and for a better social order at home and abroad.”

See on Facebook photos of celebration on SEARCH site.

Many positive thoughts about this historic comrade.
ABC News report
Condolences to his family. If you wish to send a condolence message to Brian’s family, you can send it to Brian Jr at

I hope his life will be recorded some more.
Here are some more of his speeches, stories etc.
About Brian
Brian actively opposed Australia’s continued implementation of the White Australia policy in action in 1960’s to stop the deportation of indentured labour from the pearling industry after working more than a decade here. He is in favour of a multi-cultural Australia, has many Moslem, Jewish and Christian friends and is an unapologetic atheist.

More here: On November 3, 2013, Brian Manning — veteran Northern Territory communist, trade unionist, campaigner against racism, long-time activist for Indigenous people’s rights and solidarity campaigner with the East Timorese people (among many other causes) — died in Darwin. Brian won enormous respect for his commitment to human rights and his unstinting dedication to changing the system. As a tribute to Brian, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal highlights one important chapter in his inspiring political life: his important role in the historic struggle of the Gurindji people for their rights. By Terry Townsend
[The following is an excerpt from The Aboriginal Struggle & the Left (Sydney: Resistance Books, 2009.]

The story of his Bedford J Truck

Rough Reds – on the Timor Leste resistance

On the illegal radio

With radio

Vale Brian Manning

I went to a launch of a new book, “Conflict in the Unions The CPA and the Trade Union Movement, 1945-60” by Douglas Jordan; a good chapter on the CPA and aboriginal rights – and Brian gets a few pages.

Red Flag latest has a story on Brian.

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Organising against the Right Sun, 24 Mar 2013 10:53:31 +0000 Dear friend,

SEARCH Foundation decided at its last AGM to make building an alliance against the Right our main political priority for this year.

On the 7th of April at the Secure Jobs Green Future Conference Sydney there is a panel plenary session on strategies for the left to which I will contribute as SEARCH President.

I thought it appropriate to circulate some points in advance as they go to renewal and the role of SEARCH. Any comments would be appreciated and of course you are welcome to participate in the forum.

Rob Durbridge

Secure jobs in a green future: Australian Left Renewal Conference

Participatory Forum: Strategic Priorities for the Left
Rob Durbridge, President SEARCH Foundation

Recognise the Eora People, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet

· All of us can agree to campaign to oppose the Coalition in the 2013 Federal election as well as its rightwing state/territory counterparts; despite everything the Gillard Government has progressive reform achievements and policies on which to stand; its failures should not lead us to surrender or despair; the alternative is undoubtedly worse and the problems of the ALP make it harder to get this across

· Uniting against the Coalition gives the left the opportunity to work with others to build an alternative to rightwing policies which can only be achieved through action and analysis

· The rise of neo-conservatism reflects the success of rightwing think tanks and media dominance; to turn it around means challenging rightwing social, environmental and political opinions and developing a clearer statement of the values and solutions of the Left

· Much of the success of the Right is its appeal to simple reactionary values, while the Left’s principles and disparate campaigns are difficult to reduce to slogans; a Left alternative is more than an aggregation of progressive issues; an alternative which can sum up and provide a direction on issues of the day is critical

· The Left is good at protest politics and in a range of areas knows how to win public support, but has yet to mount a coherent challenge to the dominance of the Right

· Progressive politics in Australia reaches well beyond the political parties and processes; progressive issues command the support of substantial majorities which the major parties are able to ignore because of bipartisan domination, one prime example being commitment of forces to wars without mandate

· Indigenous peoples rights have strong support which is masked by competition by the major parties for redneck votes

· This conference can be a step in the process of developing a response to the Right which will not be resolved in the parliamentary arena alone and must be built in workplaces and communities to succeed, as we achieved with Your Rights at Work in 2007

· The defeat of the Howard Government mainly on the issue of workers’ rights was repaid by the Federal ALP with half-hearted and often cosmetic changes to Workchoices leaving the labour movement open to severe repression in the event of a Coalition victory.

· The profound crisis of the ALP is not just about opportunism and psychopathic politicians, it is a crisis of purpose. When a Minister from the Left’s resignation was met with dismay by some of the biggest mining corporations in the world it highlights a loss of direction by the ALP including its left factions

· Reform of the ALP to put members’ views forward rather than the reactionary social policies of remnants of Catholic Action, rightwing factions fostered by corporations and the US as well as Zionist interests all of which Gillard relied upon is essential; that these factions are often based in influential major unions without members’ knowledge or consent raises the whole question of union affiliation to the ALP

· The growth of radical right politics internationally has followed the onset of crisis and despair by millions of people in countries where neo-liberalism and austerity has failed; the combination of an Abbott Government with control of the Senate and rightwing state governments would pose a real threat to living standards and all progressive movements

· Close links between British and Australian conservatives exampled by Cameron adviser and former Howard staffer Lynton Crosby show the likely direction of an Abbott government to “socialize corporate failure and create new opportunities for capital accumulation through privatization and outsourcing of public services” (Spoehr)

· Repression of workers’ and union rights would be at the core of the Abbott project, headed by the violently anti-union Eric Abetz as Shadow Minister

· This is not yet being communicated well by unions and social movements, nor by the ALP given control by its own right and transfixed by leadership crisis; nevertheless the fortunes of the ALP and its genuine left is critical; helping to bridge the bitter divide between the ALP Left and the Greens to avoid damaging competition will assist the movement to unite and counter the right; the ALP will not govern again without Green preferences on current voting patterns

· Left movements have grown in response to the crisis in the European context and the US which have great relevance for the Australian Left; the defeat of Blairite policies in UK Labour and its reform has relevance as ever for the ALP, or are we doomed to repeat the mistakes again?

· Latin American countries which suffered austerity and privatization programmes at the hands of the IMF and World Bank have embarked on renationalisations and social programmes to attack poverty and corporate domination; there are lessons for the world in these attempts

· Following the death of Chavez elections in Venezuela will determine the course of the socialist government which has attracted support in many other Latin American and European countries

· New left movements have often taken the form of coalitions of various social and political organisations and movements, often incorporating ex-communist elements, notably Greece

· Political parties of the vanguard style have not grown in the new conditions, attempts to reinvent the past is ahistorical and likely to fail. The experiences of the left internationally are valuable as sources from which to learn both positive and negative

· SEARCH has adopted the goal of an environmentally sound and democratic socialist society because in our view corporate capitalism is incapable of ending exploitation of nature and people or moving to a sustainable economy based on renewable energy sources

· We want to work with others to oppose the right, to build an alliance for change and to learn from experiences of our movement from history and internationally; SEARCH is not a political party and its members participate in parties and social movements across the spectrum of the Left

· The tragic history of authoritarian and bureaucratic communist societies and the failure of “Third Way” social democratic parties in the name of socialism pose major obstacles in the development of a society which is based on social ownership and democratic control in workplaces and the community; new ways of constructing an alternative are critical

· These obstacles call for the left internationally to confront its past and develop social and political forms to extend democracy and ensure that a new form of socialism can guarantee wider rights as well as sustainable growth based on renewable energy based industry and agriculture

· Growth of the left occurs across movements, parties and formations from social democratic to revolutionary, environmental, feminist, unions and community campaigns; the conditions for the growth of one are likely to support growth in the wider left; in that sense sectarianism is not only damaging but futile

· New policies and organization by the ALP, and a broader social conception by the Greens will be an aspect of renewal; both parties need to accept their mutual interests, to avoid conflict and relate to the interests of working people and progressive movements rather than attune to the political “class” and sectional campaigns

· Left Labor and the Greens are parts of the broader left, neither can succeed on their own and neither can substitute for the broader left which has strong roots in communities and workplaces

· Left renewal demands new strategic thinking based on current needs, values and issues; it cannot be proclaimed but learned and built from analysis of campaigns, defeats and victories; an honest assessment and lessons of the ALP-ACTU Accord are long overdue because denial has become a block against linking the industrial and social wages and rethinking social democratic strategy

· In Australia the left is now composed of a wide and disparate number of activist groups and individuals who pursue discrete campaigns without being able to create a coherent alternative or focus on unifying themes and strategies

· In total these disparate elements constitute a more critical oppositional proportion of the people than at any previous time, or conversely the major parties command less support than previously, a fact masked by compulsory preferential voting and polling

· There is no theory which unites the Left but this should not prevent joint campaigns around agreed issues; there is a real danger of a lurch to the Right unless the components of an alliance can begin to work together and project coherent alternatives to win the support of large numbers of people who support progressive movements and organisations

· Protest politics while important, such as “Occupy”, cannot mount a coherent challenge to global capitalism unless workers and their organisations can be involved in around societal objectives

· As the largest civil society organisations, unions have a particular role and responsibility to involve their members, to provide the means for them to be involved at work and to link with other social movements and campaigns;

· The recent National Community Summit saw the ACTU and community sector organisations unite around “Secure Jobs and a Better Society” and determine to work together against the right

· The project was expressed by ACTU A/Sec Tim Lyons as: “We need an economy and a social wage (and of course an industrial system) that isn’t just about protecting and serving a shrinking pool of ‘insiders’ – the wealthy and those with relatively secure jobs with decent wages and conditions – at the expense of ‘outsiders’, including workers on lower wages, those with lower skills, those in insecure work and those outside work altogether. We need a comprehensive agenda about a stronger and fairer society.”

· Participants and workshops discussed the attack on workers’ rights and standards implicit in high levels of insecure work, industrial responses, training, women at work, productivity, attacks by rightwing state governments, poverty and inclusion, “flexibility” and work/life balance and creating a progressive agenda, organizing and community activism

· This is a shift from uncritical ALP adherence by significant sections of the union movement to a more independent stance in alliance with social wage dependents and community activists; however little attention was paid at the Forum to the environment movement without which the project is flawed

· Nevertheless job insecurity and the social wage complement each other as major organizing issues against the right

· The nature of the threat posed by the radical rightwing in government is already evident in state government decisions to direct funding away from public services and infrastructure, to commence wholesale destruction of the public sector in favour of private interests and to interfere directly into industrial relations arrangements to destroy union influence and make workers vulnerable to authoritarian management and insecure employment.

· The Costello Report for Queensland demonstrates what the Rightwing thinks and what a Coalition Government would do if it gains control of the Senate; it should be widely analysed and reported

· Proposals and policies of the rightwing are not widely understood and makes it critical that organisations and movements widen their perspectives from particular issues and campaigns to join together to warn the public of the threat posed by rightwing dominance

· Labor’s own crisis of confidence and direction contributes to disorientation of the whole left and movement; working with the best of the ALP Left, Greens, unions, social welfare and social movements to promote new policies for sustainable economic growth, decent employment and a fairer society can help restore a sense of purpose to the Left

· A project like this can find expression in social democratic as well as radical politics; a key task for an alliance is to develop a strategy for transition which can win broad support for democratic social reforms to challenge neo-liberal orthodoxy and establish structures for social ownership and control

· Despite its geo-political dominance over the globe, in developed countries capitalism is struggling to maintain growth on its own terms, driving catastrophic climate change and exacerbating inequality and exploitation within every country

· There is a major rift between Anglo-Saxon neoliberalism which is seen by German-based “ordoliberalism” as one of the causes of global financial crisis; Swan’s attacks on “slash and burn fiscal austerity” as a “handbrake” on growth open a direction for reform of social democratic policy in future

· Burgeoning growth and development, often in environmentally and socially exploitative form, is concentrated in countries often with low levels of democratic accountability and rights

· Australia is somewhat insulated from the crisis of corporate globalization due to demand for minerals and polluting fossil fuels, but the general characteristics are present

· Nevertheless decomposition of the typical pattern of western political settlement is occurring across developed economies, particularly the European South and Latin America, and in developing countries the dominance of pro-western client governments is being challenged, arising from the Arab spring and leftist governments in Latin America

· Social democracy’s traditional hegemony over movements for social justice and labour standards is being eroded, creating space for the rise of the Greens and a range of independent movements and organisations

· An alliance to build a sense of purpose and direction for the left is possible with goodwill and determination; out of this can develop ongoing contact and exchange so that solidarity around campaigns and movements can be built to challenge the power of the rightwing which is often well concealed but vulnerable to social exposure

· Examples are the concentration of media ownership and power, executive and director largesse in corporations, public tax gifts to the rich in superannuation, mining profits, elite education funding and creation of safety net to protect the working poor etc.

· The creation of a “working poor” arising from market dominance in the labour market, insecure employment and casualisation, outsourcing and contracting out as well as fake independent contracting is a real threat to traditional notions of fairness and equity in Australia

· Campaigning for decent and secure employment in sustainable industries and against the ideas and policies of the right can build a strategic vision and organizational base for left policies and progressive social movements

· SEARCH wants to work on an equal basis with individuals and organisations who share this view

Support the Burrup december 2nd Sun, 18 Nov 2012 05:19:46 +0000 In Darwin at Parliament House on Sunday December 2nd at 1pm our group will join the Global Stand Up for the Burrup.

This campaign is to gain UNESCO World Heritage Listing for the Murujuga/Dampier.

Please join us. Bring camera and post on facebook.

Archipelago estimated to contain more than one million rock engravings (petroglyphs).

A Ngarda Ngarli people’s sacred site, Murujuga includes pre-Ice sacred art and engravings
of the fat-tailed kangaroo, extinct for 40-45,000 years, and the thylacine (‘Tasmania Tiger’),
extinct on Australian mainland for 3-3,500 years. 

Were Murujuga located close to Darwin, it would have been nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

But it is remote NW Western Australia, the most notoriously racist State of Australia, where transnational mining interests dominate
government regardless of political party.
Since the mid 1960’s, the Western Australian government has subsidised resource companies to turn Murujuga, especially
the so-called ‘Burrup Peninsula’ into Australia’s largest heavy industry precinct.

It includes 2 LNG plants operated by WOODSIDE Energy (North West Shelf and Pluto),
Australia’s second busiest port (Dampier), another port, the world’s biggest salt producing facility ,
an ammonia fertilizer plant, and a quarry. An explosives and a desalination plant are now proposed,
and industry and the WA government have plans for back-up port on West Intercourse Island, which is pristine land and contains the second largest number of hieroglyphs after the Burrup.

Every development to date has destroyed rock art.

As industry develops, vandalism and accidental damage increases.

In the longer term acid rain pollution from the LNG and other plants threatens the very existence of the rock art, as the nitric and other acids eat away at the dark patina (‘desert varnish’) that makes the images visible.

We call on every Australian and Western Australian politician, corporate executives, public servants and supporters all over the world to see that the Burrup actions are effective and ensure the objectives.

Burrup campaign Fri, 26 Oct 2012 05:48:15 +0000 Next Stand Up for the Burrup 2nd December.
Coalition for World Heritage Listing for the Murujuga/Dampier Archipelago Rock Art Precinct
P. O Box 2529. Port Lincoln SA
5606 0432 618296

Dear Friend,
This will serve to introduce the Coalition for World Heritage Listing for the Murujuga/Dampier Archipelago Rock Art Precinct.
We are a coalition of traditional elders and supporters in the wider community, formed in March 2012, with the objective of securing the Australian government’s nomination of the Murujuga/Dampier (‘Burrup’) rock art in NW Australia to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Murujuga/the Dampier Archipelago (‘the Burrup’)

Murujuga/the Dampier Archipelago, 1550 km north of Perth on the Pilbara Coast, is the world’s oldest and largest (most dense) petroglyph precinct. The estimated 1-2 m petroglyphs on the 42 islands (including the so-called Burrup Peninsula) include engravings of the fat-tailed kangaroo, extinct for 40-45,000 years, and the thylacine, extinct on the mainland for 3-3,500 years. Archaeologists estimate the oldest art to be at least 30,000 years old.

Murujuga is a Ngarda Ngarli peoples’ sacred site, and by traditional Lore much of the art is not be viewed by the uninitiated. Wilfred Hicks, spokesperson for Tim Douglas, Senor LawMan for the West Pilbara, has authorised publication of a limited number of images (attached).

Since the Port of Dampier’s construction in the mid-‘60s, the Burrup has been used to site two LNG plants, two further ports, the world’s biggest salt production facility, a fertiliser plant, a quarry, and other industrial facilities. Up to 25% of the pre-Ice Age sacred art has been destroyed.
More industrialisation is proposed, including a port on West Intercourse Island, just south of Dampier, home of the second largest number of pre-Ice Age engravings after the Burrup.

UNESCO World Heritage Listing
The world’s oldest and most extensive pre-Ice Age rock art landscapes should be protected by the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Australia’s nomination of the Dampier Archipelago to UNESCO has been called for by the New York-based World Monuments Fund, the International Federation of Rock Organisations, the National Trust of Australia, and other heritage and conservation organisations along with leading Australians including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. WA Premier Colin Barnett, when in Opposition, described World Heritage Listing for the Burrup as ‘inevitable’.

In July 2007, former Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull entered most of the Burrup and all the Archipelago’s other 41 islands on the National Heritage Register (while excising land for Woodside’s Pluto LNG plant, with the loss of more than 1000 petroglyphs). National Heritage Listing has however proved ineffectual in protecting the rock art, and the WA government yet to proclaim a National Park.

UNESCO World Heritage Listing cannot remove all threats to the rock art, particularly the long-term effects of acid rain deposits from the LNG plants’ flares. It does however impose upon the Australian government special duties to protect the art, and allows international monitors to inquire into and report on threats to it.

UNESCO World Heritage Listing is the highest level of legal protection available, and that is why we campaign for it.
Ngarda Ngarli peoples, the wider Australian community, and the world cannot afford to lose any more of the earliest evidence of humanity’s adaption to changing environments and sense of the sacred.
The Global Stand Up for the Burrup campaign

On 20 December 2006, a group of us organised at Perth’s Wesley Uniting Church the first of the Global ‘Stand Up for the Burrup’ photo-shoot actions. The campaign involves people literally Standing Up for the Burrup – wearing t-shirts or carrying placards that spell out our message.

On 20 December 2008, exactly 2 years later, at the same place, the writer chaired the 200th Global Stand Up for the Burrup action, with simultaneous actions at the Sphinx and Great Pyramids at Giza, the Louvre, and Nantes Cathedral.

In the intervening period, actions had been held in in every Australian State and mainland Territory, in 42 counties and on every continent except Antarctica (but we got close, on board the Sea Shepard Conservation Society’s ‘Steve Irwin’).

On 17 May this year, Elder Wilfred Hicks through our Stand Up for the Burrup Facebook page called for a second global campaign. On 1 June, the campaign was launched at the Melbourne Reconciliation Week concert by Bunna Lawrie, Mirning Elder and National NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award 2012 recipient.

Since 1 June, supporters have held more than 130 Stand Up for the Burrup photo-shoots actions, in every Australian capital city except Hobart, and in country towns and regional centres from Cairns to Margaret River, from the Illawarra to Broome, from the Barossa Valley to Bourke. Internationally, photo-shoots actions have been held in Spain, Malta, Italy, the USA, Isle of Wight, England, the Netherlands, Estonia, Bali, France, and Germany. A genuine grassroots national mass movement has formed and is growing, with strong international support.

Our next action, on 2 December 2021, calls for actions at 100 UNESCO World Heritage sites on one day. We are confident of reaching that target.

We send the images and messages from these actions to politicians in Canberra and Perth, media representatives, corporate executives and other decision makers and opinion formers. They also create media opportunities for our spokespersons and expert commentators.

Australian Heritage Council Final Report confirms UNESCO eligibility

On 27 May, the Australian Heritage Council, chaired by Dr Carmen Lawrence, presented its Final Report on the Dampier Archipelago to Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke.

The Final Report, which confirms that the Dampier rock art meets UNESCO’s Outstanding Universal Values criteria for World Heritage Listing, is attached. This timely report means that to oppose UNESCO World Heritage Listing the Australian government must argue against the advice of its own expert body – a position it cannot credibly defend.

UNESCO World Heritage Listing can be won
The timing is right for a renewed campaign. The Australian Greens have campaigned on the Burrup World Heritage issue and have balance of power in the Senate and House of Representatives. While the ALP is in office in Canberra (likely to be until mid to late 2013), the Greens have power to demand and win it. Our task is create the climate in which is it is possible.

WA Premier Colin Barnett, while formally opposing World Heritage Listing, supported it in Opposition and publicly acknowledged it as ‘inevitable’.

Former Howard Environment Minister David Kemp supported World Heritage Listing, as has former WA Premier Carmen Lawrence.

Our main opponents, Woodside and the WA Department of Industry and Resources, are not powerful enough to resist a strong national and international campaign that attracts support from across the political spectrum.

We can win, but we must do so by mid-2013. If we don’t effectively mobilise community, media, and political support by then, it will take several more years. By then, more irreplaceable world heritage pre-Ice Age art, the spiritual and cultural heritage of Ngarda Ngarli peoples, will be lost forever.

Artists for the Burrup – Julie Dowling fine art

Internationally acclaimed artist Julie Dowling of the Bademia Sovereign Nation in central Western Australia has kindly donated 27 artworks to support the campaign for UNESCO World Heritage Listing for the Burrup.

The artworks are mixed media collages: portraits in pastels, oil pastels, and mono-prints, some in gold paint, contrasted with found images from contemporaneous and later European culture.
A number of the pieces are portraits of Indigenous people named from the ‘Alias List’ maintained by the Western Australian government.
From the 1870s to the 1950s, the Western Australian government compelled station owners, police, native welfare officers, and clergy of all denominations to report to the Chief Protector of Aborigines the aliases (non-tribal names, usually given by station owners) and locations of Indigenous people.

The Alias List served eugenicist and surveillance purposes, principally to remove children from their parents and to punish LawMen who practiced and taught traditional Lore and Culture. Many of Julie Dowling’s family members are on the Western Australian government’s Alias List

Art sale
Julie Dowling’s kind donation makes it possible for the Coalition for World Heritage Listing for the Murujuga/Dampier Archipelago Rock Art Precinct, through the Global Stand Up for the Burrup campaign, to achieve its objective.
We are now offering these highly collectible artworks for sale. In order to further assist the cause, Julie has priced them at below market value. The artworks, which vary in price between $1000 and $4000, may be viewed in the attached file.

The file also shows Julie’s work-in-progress for a triptych about Murujuga and Ngarda Ngarli people that Julie is also generously donating to the cause.

If you are interested in purchasing some Julie’s art, will you please let us know by emailing us murujuga2012 or calling the writer on 0432 618 296? If you know other people who may be interested, will you please forward this email and attachments to them?

Kind regards Mark Lawrence LL.B., B.Lab.St, Secretary,
for Wilfred Hicks, spokesperson for Tim Douglas, Senior LawMan for the West Pilbara, Chairperson Coalition for World Heritage Listing for the Murujuga/Dampier Archipelago Rock Art Precinct.