Page 4269 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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I attended yesterday, both with pleasure but for different reasons. Firstly, it was my great pleasure to attend the day of action yesterday morning, not because of the need to attend the day of action and the reasons that brought thousands of us there together but, by virtue of standing with thousands against what I believe, and what tens of thousands, if not millions, in this country believe, to be very draconian legislation that was passed in the House of Representatives last week. I refer, of course, to the so-called WorkChoices legislation.

I was struck yesterday—as I am sure you would have been, Mr Speaker—when we went to the televised nationwide event, which was being conducted out of Melbourne, by the singing of the national anthem by the thousands of people across the country. I thought: “This is fantastic. Here are thousands upon thousands of people in this room that I am standing in who are patriotic Australians—and there are those in the Liberal Party, and some in the National Party as well, federally who would have us believe that we are unpatriotic because we do not support the WorkChoices legislation.”

It was also my very great pleasure yesterday to attend the launch in Canberra of Graham Freudenberg’s political memoir entitled A figure of speech. Graham Freudenberg, I believe, is probably the best political speech writer that this country has ever known. Of course I am biased, because he wrote for leaders such as Hawke, Whitlam, Calwell, Wran, and Bob Carr most recently. He also has written for a few others.

I have just started reading his book. I read a little bit of the introduction today and I was bemused—I think that would be the way to describe it—by what he says about the making of George Bush:

Then came September 11, and the making of George Bush: his speech in Washington’s National Cathedral, where he became the first leader to declare war in a cathedral since Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade …

With words like that, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book. It was my great pleasure in June this year to attend the New South Wales conference where Graham gave a speech on behalf of the life membership recipients within the New South Wales Branch of the party. He has quoted it in his book, so I would like to finish with that:

The fact is that John Howard has embarked on a massive rewriting of Australian history. Because he knows that controlling history is the key to controlling the future. Howard is the Regius Professor of what I call the GBM School of Australian History—the notion that there is nothing worth knowing about Australia, except Gallipoli, Bradman and Menzies. There is nothing more disgraceful in his career than his manipulation and politicisation of the Anzac legend in the interests of the Liberal Party. I’m entitled to resent that as much as anybody in this room. My father was a stretcher-bearer on Gallipoli.

But if you understand this about John Howard, that he wants to rewrite Australian history in his own image, you have an essential clue to what he is doing, his hostility towards reconciliation, his hostility towards multiculturalism and, above all, first, last, and always, his hatred of the union movement of Australia. It is not only a case of driving the unions out of the workplace. It is a case of writing the unions out of Australian history, and out of Australia’s future. Well, there is nothing new about it, delegates. The Great Strikes of 1890 and 1891 were about this very issue, the

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