The sun shone down on those who attended this year’s Iron Boat Day held at Gladstone Park Bowling Club in Balmain.
It was Sydney’s turn to host the event, which is held each year to remember the iron ships, which many an Australian seafarer worked aboard, transporting iron ore to steel mills.
Former seafarer, Outgoing Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman was also commemorated this year, in a surprise event organised by the Sydney Branch.
As well as becoming the recipient of a Legends Medal, Mick was also treated to seeing his family with the branch having flown his mum Irene, daughter Stacey and son Diesel up from Melbourne to help Mick and his wife Joanie celebrate the occasion.
Sydney Branch Assistant Secretary Joe Deakin said Mick’s work for the union could not be understated.
"Mick is not only a good union official, he's also a decent human being who looks after people regardless of whether they're white, black, brindle, male or female.
"I've known him for 40 years, we were both militants. He went onto becoming a teacher and I continued to be a listener."
Meanwhile Sydney Branch Secretary Paul McAleer expressed his reluctance to label Mick a "legend".
"To me, a legend is a myth, and what Mick has done for the union is anything but legendary, it's tangible, it's real," McAleer said.
Other speakers commending Mick for his 45 years of service to the union included: ALP Shadow Minister Brendon O’Connor; Sydney Branch Assistant Secretary Paul Garrett; former SUA National Secretary Pat Geraghty and current National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. Member for Kingsford Smith Matt Thistlethwaite was also in attendance.
After being showered with praise for a solid two hours, Mick took the microphone to thank those who had come before, including Geraghty and late Victorian Branch Seaman’s Secretary Bert Nolan whom he had thought of as father figures.
He also made special mention of Paddy who he said he considered a great friend.
“I know people say I will be missed but I simply think that’s not true, no matter how well-intentioned people are when they tell me this,” he said.
“I look around the current and upcoming leaders of this, the greatest union in the country, and I know the MUA is in good hands.”
Shadow Workplace Relations Minister Brendan O’Connor recalled working with Mick in his role as President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council when Jeff Kennett was State Premier.
“Not only has he done a remarkable thing over many decades for this union being in it for 45 years… but the fact is he’s looked to do more, and is typical of Mick, in that he doesn’t want to see his wisdom, his experience, his industry to stop now and that’s why it’s a great thing that he will be taking up an international role,” O’Connor said referring to Mick's next appointment as coordinator of the Maritime International Federation (MIF).
He also spoke about the need to kick out the Abbott Government at the next election, in saying he was certain that the current Government wanted to destroy the union movement.
“This prime minister and the minister for employment Eric Abetz and the front bench hates the union movement, hate unions, they hate union officials, they hate union delegates, and I’m afraid to say this, that it’s even got to the point where they hate workers who happen to be members of a union,” he said.
In regards to the maritime industry O’Connor said protecting Cabotage would be at the forefront of ALP policy.
“What is the difference between a truck driving from here down to Melbourne on a truck carrying freight. I mean if you suggested that they could actually pay Taiwanese wages to get to Melbourne and it would be ok the public would think it was an outrage. Why would it be okay, therefore, to have freight by sea to be paid under different conditions,” he lamented.
“If elected we will continue working with this union to fight for your industry.”
National Secretary Paddy Crumlin restated this sentiment in talking about Governments truly investing in their own societies and people.
He pointed to Norway and its large sovereign wealth fund.
“You have to remember that iron ore, that oil and gas off the northwest, it’s not for Gina’s (Rinehart), or Twiggy Forrest’s. It’s ours, they lease it off us at a price and part of that price should be investing in jobs, investing in manufacturing and investing in shipping,” Crumlin said.
For all of the photos from the day, click here.