MUA members past and present joined other union leaders and members of Parliament for the launch of a new book by Greg Combet today.
|Ex- National Secretary John Coombs, Greg Combet, Ex-SUA Secretary Pat Geraghty, Paddy Crumlin and ex-Sydney Branch Secretary Jim Donovan|
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin was joined by former senior officials John Coombs, Pat Geraghty, Jim Donovan, Barry Robson and Glen Wood.
Titled 'The Fights of My Life', Combet spoke of his days at the ACTU where he was an integral part of the 1998 Waterfront Dispute, Ansett collapse, compensation for James Hardie asbestos victims and the highly successful 'Your Rights at Work' campaign in the lead-up to the 2007 Federal Election.
Combet then entered Federal Parliament as the ALP Member for Charlton from 2007-13.
He made special mention of former MUA National Secretary John Coombs, with whom he worked closely in the battle against Chris Corrigan and the Howard Government.
"Where's Peter Reith - gone. Where's Chris Corrigan - gone. That's what I used to say on the picket line - one day Howard will be gone and you will still remain - the MUA - and it's true," Combet said at today's launch.
"The MUA is still here, Paddy is still here.
"That was a hard dispute and there's no one I'd would rather stand with than John Coombs. He's a great man and a good friend.
"It was a big fight. We fought hard and we won."
Combet had a message for those workers and families punished by the harsh policies on health, welfare and education of the Abbott Government.
"Don't stand there and complain - get out and fight," he said.
Combet, a former Minister for Climate Change whose book was launched by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, said history would judge the former Government kindly.
"When it comes to the carbon price - we were right, despite the populist crap from Tony Abbott and let's not forget that The Greens voted against it," he said.
Combet also listed the republic, Australian flag, constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians, voluntary euthanasia and same sex marriage as issues that needed to be addressed.
He also said the ALP needed reform.
"We need to modernise the party. One million people are in affiliated unions - and a majority of them vote Labor. They are normal people, not apparatchiks, not factional warlords," he said.
"Give them a say. Democratise it. It won't be able to be manipulated by any individual. We need to move to a wider-based, more democratic, closer to the people, Labor party and it will be an unstoppable force."