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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3379 ..


MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (10.12): I have to say that I was surprised at some of Mr Wall’s comments today, brief though they were, given that, as Mr Rattenbury has pointed out, the Liberals and their former leader have been required twice within the past 12 months to apologise to the CFMMEU, the CFMEU as it was, for such comments. The Liberal Party ACT division has been forced to apologise for statements made on a Facebook page, in addition to the apology that Mr Hanson has made to Mr Hall.

I was intending to keep my contribution to this debate short, not because I do not have much to say about the great contributions of the union movement in this country, but because I think the motion is so inappropriate that it does not really warrant more time in this place. But I do want to note that last night I spoke in this place to mark the passing of Laurie Carmichael, a giant of the Australian Labor movement, and someone who has been closely associated with and closely involved in many of the movement’s greatest achievements, including the 38-hour week, the prices and incomes accord, and better access to university and vocational education.

Laurie was not an official of the CFMMEU or its predecessors. He was an official of the mighty Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, now the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, of which I am a proud member. Senator Doug Cameron said this in his statement on Laurie’s passing:

Laurie fought on behalf of working class Australians to achieve fundamental social reforms we all enjoy today.

In doing so, Laurie Carmichael fought alongside his comrades in other blue-collar unions like the predecessors of the CFMMEU. Union organising is often loud. It is sometimes messy. Its aim is to upset the status quo, to empower workers by bringing them together in solidarity so that they can stand up to the power and might of capital. Conservatives do not like this. Of course they don’t. The Liberals representing big business do not like this. They do not like anything that upsets the status quo that heralds progress in our community. Conservatives were not particularly keen on suffrage either, but here we are with a majority of women in our local parliament.

Madam Speaker, the reality is that progress has only ever been achieved by people organising, working together to fight for their rights, to fight for equality and sometimes simply to preserve what ordinary folk hold dear.

Last night I spoke about the union movement’s involvement in the fight against apartheid. Apartheid did not end by the rest of the world quietly sitting by and waiting for those who held power in South Africa to give it up. Around the world, and particularly here in Australia, people rallied and protested and made their voices heard, and unions were at the heart of that movement.

The 38-hour week did not come about as a gift from the bosses because they suddenly decided to be generous to their workforce. Unions campaigned for it, as they have for


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