Page 4264 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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that. Spearheaded by Australian and Canadian troops, the British armies and the French armies got to the Hindenburg line. Germany sued for an armistice, of course, on 11/11/1918. It was a magnificent effort by all Australians there. In the battles from Amiens to the end of the war, in the three months, some 5,000 Australians, and some 60,000 Germans, of course, were tragically killed. But, even though those casualties were huge, they were much lighter then what had occurred under incompetent generalship beforehand. It was a fantastic effort by Australians. We can say that Australia and Canada played a major role in winning the war on the Western Front, and General Monash, of course, was hailed as the greatest general of that war. It was a fantastic effort by a fledgling nation.

Industrial relations

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.03): Yesterday I rose in the adjournment debate to outline the incredible response by workers and their families around the country to the federal government’s Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill. At the outset of my speech I advised the Assembly that 360,000 workers had amassed in cities and towns across Australia to stand in solidarity with their comrades and families to listen to the Sky Channel broadcast. As I mentioned the massed group of 360,000, the opposition howled across the chamber, “The ACTU said it was going to be half a million!”

Well, rarely will it be said in this house that the opposition was right. The ACTU did say it hoped to get half a million people to the rally. I was wrong about the 360,000 people, and I do apologise. The correct figure for the rally, as reported in today’s media, is 545,000 people, well over the 360,000 I stated, and well over the half a million expected by the ACTU; and hardly an irrelevant group, I will remind Mr Mulcahy. Mr Smyth suggested earlier in the chamber today that he thought I was a parrot. I love parrots, so in that vein I will just repeat the number: 545,000 people.

This was the largest gathering of citizens in this country. Arguably it will go down in history as as important to our identity as the great shearers strike of 1891, which, coincidentally, was the same year our great party, the ALP, was formed. By further coincidence, the strike in 1891 was about securing the right to organise collectively. Yesterday will go down in history, despite Mr Mulcahy’s views, as the largest rally of union people in Australia, and perhaps only second to the Whitlam dismissal as an event in Australia’s political history. Evidence of this is that I understand every single newspaper in the country carried the story on their front page today. Almost every Australian television channel broadcast scenes from the event as their lead story last night, with many following today.

Let me just give you a few quotes from these sources. The Canberra Times stated that “thousands of Canberra workers defied the federal government and packed into Canberra Racecourse yesterday morning to call for the scrapping of the new industrial relations changes before Parliament”. Further, it reported how our Chief Minister received a standing ovation on conclusion of his address to the reported 5,000 in attendance. The Sydney Morning Herald stated:

A young protestor said; “They didn’t tell us they were going to do this. They didn’t go into any detail on this. I voted for him—

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