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Post election thoughts from Carlos, and a speech by Bernie Banton

Margo: Hi there. Here's a note from Carlos, who wrote Carlos: rats leaving a sinking ship? way back in July.
Hello Margo,

Thanks for all your work with Webdiary and the passion and effort you put in all this. Hope you have been able to rest and enjoy this final judgement Australia has passed on hoWARd.

It's been a funny time, and somehow I haven't been celebrating or feeling over the moon like many of other Webdiarists or even my own friends and colleagues. That and working in lots of local campaigns (plus my own work!) has also prevented me from sending you more contributions for Webdiary, but now the real work begins so I will certainly try to pull my weight and send you some more stuff.

I do have an older much more cynical view of these things and some key results did not go our way, especially the Senate and the loss of Greens Senator Kerry Nettle in NSW. But it goes much further than that, and it's that sense of "buyer beware" or "be careful what you wish for, coz we might just get it".

So of course I am very happy that hoWARd is gone, and I even celebrated a fair bit that very night, but it was somewhat controlled and not over the top.

As for Rudd I hope he is no dud, indeed!

The only highlight of his speech was the mention of Bernie Banton and indirectly through him the role of the unions and the importance of a fair go as a key value for Australians. Unfortunately no mention of the YR@W campaign, or the importance of Greens preferences, etc.

But this brings me back to the real reason I am writing to you today: Bernie.

I got to meet Bernie quite a few times, here in Parramatta locally where I live, and of course in many other large rallies and on tv. He was always an amazing speaker in his very simple and direct, almost understated, way that always managed to cut through spin and crap and really put an practical inspirational message across that always reached everyone.

He was always working, attending meetings, coming to rallies always ready to talk and connect with anyone. He had an amazing amount of energy and passion without being over the top, loud or in your face, something quite unique these days.

He was an honest simple man who spoke to every man, woman and child and for every man, woman and child as one of us.

He had fighting spirit that I have never seen before, and even his weak body or physical energy seemed unable to stop the champion, the energy, the warrior from within coming through and touching everyone.

Below I include, a speech Bernie gave to our local YR@W Parramatta group. Please post it up on Webdiary as a small homage from the many people that directly or indirectly he helped and touched.

"We want to leave a better future for our kids" he'd always say. A better future for his family and for this country is certainly what his work and life was always all about.

There are those who fight once and are good.
There are those who fight for a day, for a week, for a month, for a year and are even better.

And there are those that fight a lifetime, just like you Bernie, mate.
Those are the indispensable ones.

Bernie, rest in peace.

Thanks, Margo.


"First, they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." - Gandhi

Bernie Banton's speech to the Parramatta Your Rights at Work public meeting on Work Choices on 8 November 2006. St Patrick's Cathedral Hall, Parramatta

It's a privilege to be here tonight and to have the opportunity to say a few words. Just before I came in earlier I had the radio on and I heard our illustrious Prime Minister telling anybody who wanted to listen that a Labor government would force wages up. I thought: what a position to argue from. How absurd.

But he related it all back to the IR reforms, how wages would go out of control. But we know that that is just absolute rot.

The campaign against James Hardie has been long and tough and we haven't got past the winning post yet. But without the support of unions we would never be as close as we are now to the final justice victory.

Today, under this new legislation, unions could not have supported us the way they have been able to. Unions have been absolutely vital to this fight against James Hardie because they didn't give a hoot about their workers. Indutrial relations meant you went to work, you got paid, and they sent you home with a disease that was going to kill you.

Unfortunately, James Hardie never bothered to tell us that asbestos kills.

1898 was the first registered death from asbestos: 1898. And Hardies didn't know?

The coverup has been monumental. But with the support of unions and the NSW government we have managed to get this deal all but over the line. I'm confidently predicting that by the end of this month we will have a deal set in concrete.

We will have won justice for over another 53,000 people that will be affected by asbestos by 2020. 13,000 of those people are going to unfortunately die a miserable death with mesothelioma. It's a rampant cancer. From the time you are diagnosed until the time they put you in a box the average is 153 days. This company knew and proceeded to put profits in place of workplace reform.

I encourage you to get on board for the November 30 rally. We don't want to be known as the people that left the worst workplace to our kids and our grandkids when the unions have fought so hard over 100 plus years to get the conditions that we have. We don't want to lose them.

Take the opportunity to talk to that person at work, that next door neighbour. Just explain to them that these IR regulations are going to crucify kids into the future. We want to leave a better future for our kids.

Thanks for having me.


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A relationship based on respect another promise kept.

The Federal Government says it will today begin the formal process of formulating an apology to the Stolen Generations.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has launched a magazine to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report in Sydney this morning.

She says she will also be meeting Indigenous leaders to start discussions on an official apology.

"What we want to do is stand together, with you, and pledge a new relationship, a new relationship that is steady, and based primarily on respect," she said.

Its hard to believe its only two weeks since the fall of the Howard government and already Australia is feeling like a better place to live.

As Jenny Macklin prepares to make an official apology to Australian Aboriginals it all seems so easy, why couldn't  we have done all this years ago? Delays caused by the Howard government to score political points will be shame on the memory of his regime.

Thanks For That

I'm hoping that Rudd's mention of Bernie in his acceptance speech signified that the undemocratic and libellous attacks upon the great union movement are over for all time.

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