- The Guardian
- Issue #2001
Comrade Ovidio Orrellana joined our Party as a secret member in 1985. His whole family had fled the persecution in Guatemala of the Communist Party of Guatemala.
Orrellana was born into the struggle in Guatemala in 1948. At the age of six he and his family were confronted with the CIA organised coup in 1954. Many Campesino’s and workers were killed during this period and the people were forced into the armed struggle to defend themselves from the military junta installed by the CIA after the overthrow of the democratically elected peoples’ government.
The struggle involved work in the mountains and small villages and close contact with the Indigenous peoples of Guatemala.
As a young man with a family of his own Orrellana began work in the Met Manufacturing industry and worked with party comrades in this industry. He became a strong advocate of solidarity with Latin America and connecting the struggles with the struggles of Australian workers. He pays particular attention to Cuba and Guatemala maintaining his connection with the political Party the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity.
Orrellana is a talented Musician and has used his art as a support to the movement here. Performing at many events and providing strength and guidance to our Party in its struggle.
Orrellana is a worthy veteran of our Party participating in branch leadership and nationally as a delegate to congresses of our Party.
Comrade Silvia Salisbury joined the Canterbury-Bankstown Branch of the Socialist Party of Australia (SPA) in the late 1980s.
Salisbury had a long association with the Party (CPA & SPA) prior to joining the SPA.
Salisbury’s father was a long-time member of the CPA, a stalwart of the Lakemba Branch, a time when the CPA had branches in many suburbs across Sydney.
She has childhood memories of letterboxing CPA Leaflets together with her father.
In 1951 a sprightly young Salisbury joined the fledging New Theatre, a cultural project organised by the CPA. Salisbury performed regularly on the stage at New Theatre and was in the cast of the very popular Reedy River. Salisbury is now a life member of the New Theatre.
From the early 1960s Salisbury turned her attention to the Vietnam Moratorium Movement and more particularly the Save Our Sons movement where Salisbury and John Dengate would harness their musical talents performing at SOS public meetings and protests.
In the 1970s Salisbury’s two teenage daughters Kyle and Kim joined the Young Socialist League (YSL) and the Salisbury residence in Bankstown became the meeting place and social club for the local YSL Branch.
So after many decades of supporting the Party’s work in many progressive movements, the famous veteran communist Mary Wright told Salisbury, “It’s time for you to join the Party.”
And that’s what Salisbury did and she hasn’t stopped since. Salisbury still has a broad range of cultural interests from her participation in the Trade Union Choir Movement and supporter of the Aboriginal Dance Company Bangarra.
Salisbury has been Branch Treasurer and Sydney District Treasurer over many years.
Salisbury says of herself that she has always seen herself as a foot soldier. That typifies Silvia’s humility and any comrade who spends time to observe Silvia while she is distributing papers or leaflets, whether it’s a street stall or a demonstration, can’t help noticing Silvia’s talent at engaging ordinary people, it’s a talent we all need to learn and it’s a skill Silvia has mastered.
Salisbury you are a great comrade and a legend.
Comrade Savas Lioupas came to Australia in 1969 from Thessaloniki, Greece. It was during the time when the Greek far-right authoritarian military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. Lioupas decided to move his wife Mary and his two young children to a safer and a better place. Lioupas was an active member of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) during a time when KKE was operating underground.
After settling in Australia, Lioupas was employed in the Textile and Clothing industry, and immediately became active in his union, the Clothing and Allied Trades’ Union (CATU).
He became shop Steward, not long after he was elected as a union delegate to the Victorian Trades Hall Council, representing his union.
The first dispute organised against the employer was when he saw workers having to drink water out of a normal tap on a very hot day. He approached a manager and said: How could you drink cold water sitting in your cool office while watching us drink hot water!
He demanded that cold water be provided or, he would call a stop work meeting and ask the workers to walk off the job. Within hours the management provided cold drinks.
Lioupas was an active highly regarded delegate, and as a result, he was then elected as the senior shop steward, looking after 750 union members. This was despite the management propaganda against him. Lioupas took complaints from his members seriously and always tried to resolve them.
One of the many major disputes he led was underpayment of wages, perusing a claim for payments going back thirty years. Lioupas successfully won this dispute with the support of his members which resulted in thousands of dollars of back payments.
He was elected as an executive member of his union, as well as remaining a senior shop steward during all of his working life in the clothing industry.
Lioupas joined the SPA in 1972, from the start he became active in selling the paper, attending branch meetings, contributing to discussions and political education classes.
Lioupas has also attended a number of National schools.
He successfully sold the party paper at his workplace and other workplaces such as MUA, BLF, Greek community, demos, delegates’ meetings.
He was elected to the Victorian State Committee of the SPA in 1985. He was an executive member and the branch president.
He was/is active member of Democritus and is its treasurer. An executive member of the Greek Resistance, and a long-time member of the May Day Committee.
Lioupas has been the Victorian branch president since 2001. He attends all Branch meetings, branch discussions and always make constructive contributions.
He and Mary have always volunteered to take responsibility to cater for and organise party functions, generously contributing, selling a significant number of raffle and entry tickets, and collecting donations for the Party.
Lioupas has always taken a strong and well-developed political position in the Party. Lioupas has been a stalwart, exemplar, and leader of the Party since he joined the Party.
DR HANNAH MIDDLETON
Comrade Dr Hannah Middleton was born in England of Welsh Celt ancestry in 1942 and grew up in the austere surroundings of post-war London.
Her first political experience was aged 9, accompanying her mother collecting signatures for the Stockholm Peace Appeal.
Aged 16, she was arrested during the “Committee of 100” civil disobedience peace campaigns. Between 1959 and 1963 she took part in the annual anti-nuclear marches from the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston to London, a distance of 83 km.
When Paul Robeson got his passport back in 1958, he moved for some years to London. Due to the warm relationship between his wife Essie and Middleton’s mother, Middleton was privileged to spend much time with the family, helping out at home, during concerts, and babysitting their young granddaughter, Susan. Paul and Essie actively encouraged Middleton’s plans to study in Africa. An Ashanti chieftain’s stool they gave her is now in the NSW Labor Council archives.
During 1960-61 she was Mayoress of the London Borough of Greenwich when her mother was the elected Mayor.
In 1962, she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and worked in the Party’s international section.
She studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, winning her BA in African Studies in 1964, following fieldwork in the north of Nigeria.
In 1965 Middleton moved to the German Democratic Republic to work at Humboldt University, Berlin. She became an associate member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany.
In 1968 Middleton became a postgraduate scholar at Humboldt University, and in 1972 she gained a PhD summa cum magna, following eleven months’ fieldwork on the Aboriginal land rights campaign with the Gurindji at Daguragu in the Northern Territory.
In 1974, she emigrated to Australia and immediately joined the Socialist Party of Australia (SPA).
Between 1974 and ’80 she worked as a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in sociology and social anthropology at the School of Sociology, University of NSW.
Middleton has worked on many Aboriginal land claims as well as building links with indigenous communities across the Pacific. She retains close ties with some indigenous communities and with members of the indigenous Chamoru from Guam.
In 1980 Middleton became a full-time activist working for the SPA as a journalist for its newspaper, The Guardian, and then its editor in 1985 for three years.
Middleton has always worked for peace and in 1986 was a founding member of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition and in 1989 was a founding member of the Bring the Frigates Home Coalition in Sydney during the Gulf War, working full time for the group for some months.
Committed to nonviolent direct action, a protest at the US military facility at Nurrungar in South Australia in 1991 saw her arrested for “breach of the peace” (appreciating the irony of this charge). She faced the same charge when arrested during the 1991 Stop AIDEX campaign against the arms trade, and again in 1996 for occupying Prime Minister Paul Keating’s office in an East Timor protest.
In 1993 Middleton was elected as President of the SPA. In this period and later, she wrote Party pamphlets on ideological questions, indigenous issues, and the environment.
Between 2006-2012 Dr Middleton worked as Executive Officer of the Sydney Peace Foundation at the University of Sydney. The Foundation awards Australia’s only international prize for peace.
In 2009 Hannah was elected as Communist Party General Secretary and remained in this position until 2013.
Currently retired and somewhat disabled, Middleton remains Secretary of her CPA Branch and writes a bi-monthly newsletter for Hands off Glebe, a community group fighting for public housing.
She was named Balmain electorate Local Woman of the Year for 2022.
Most recently, Middleton has taken a leading role in the development of national and international resistance to the AUKUS military pact between the US, UK and Australia.
Middleton remains committed to Marx’s thesis on Feuerbach: “The philosophers have interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”
Many of us know Comrade Jimmy Donovan as the former Wharfies’ Leader and the Sydney Unionist leading Maritime Workers against Patrick Stevedores and the Howard government’s attempts to deunionise the Waterfront in 1998.
But, this is only a small part of Donovan’s journey as a communist.
Donovan grew up in Woolloomooloo, a solid working-class area. Donovan’s mother joined the Party in the 1950s and he wasn’t far behind.
Donovan started his working life as an apprentice Boilermaker in the railway workshops at Eveleigh Rail Yards, and by 1958, he had joined the CPA.
Eveleigh Rail Workshops was a stronghold for the CPA, and the boilermakers’ union was led by communists, one of the most militant unions in the workshops and Donovan didn’t need much encouragement to join the CPA. Donovan was recruited by Harry Hatfield a well-known communist of the time.
In 1962, Donovan transferred to the waterfront and started work in the maintenance workshops.
The CPA at that time had four branches on the Sydney Waterfront and Jim belonged to the Street Branch.
In the 1970s inner-city Sydney, the struggle started to heighten between Developers looking for a quick profit, a Corrupt NSW Government under Robert Askin and working class residents wanting to save their homes and suburbs from the Developers’ Bulldozers. Yes, it was the time of the BLF Green Bans and activists were kidnapped, beaten and sometimes killed.
Donovan was in the thick of it, a good working class boy from Woolloomooloo couldn’t allow bulldozers to wipe out their community’s history. Jim put his hand up and used his skills to lead the Woolloomooloo Residents Action Group, Jim was elected their Secretary from 1971 - 1975.
In 1975 the Woolloomooloo residents came to an agreement with the Whitlam government and Minister Tom Uren which led to a more measured Development and parts of their suburb being preserved.
Donovan was recently interviewed in an ABC documentary on the murder of Juanita Nielsen, a Green Ban activist and influential journalist in neighbouring Kings Cross.
In 1973 Donovan was elected as a Vice-President of the Sydney Branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation (WWF).
He became a full-time official in 1980 as the union’s vigilance officer and would go on to hold both the positions of Branch President and Secretary.
In the 1980s the face of working class struggle was changing, many unions were co-opted to support the Labor government’s Social Accord policy. The strike had become unfashionable and industrial action was a dirty word in many Unions.
Not in the WWF, and certainly not in the Sydney Branch. Donovan was an outspoken opponent of the Accord.
Donovan went on to be elected the National President of the WWF, and after amalgamation, the first National President of the MUA.
1998 would become the tipping point for the Maritime Union, it decided the survival of unionised Labour on the waterfront and it would set a precedent for Unionism in Australia.
Donovan was an important part of the collective leadership of this struggle and the fact that the MUA exists and is strong today is testament to the role played by communists.
Donovan puts it well; “communists make a big difference anytime but they show their real worth in times of crisis.”
Donovan continues to make a difference even in retirement. He is the President of the MUA Retired Members and you will regularly see these comrades on the picket line, at demonstrations and protests, everywhere there is struggle and everywhere there is a fight to be won for working-class rights.
Comrade Michael Perth has been a member of a Communist Party since joining the Communist Party in Ireland in 1968.
Following migrating to Australia joined our party in 1975. He has been a member of a union since 1960 joining at the age of fourteen and still remains a member of the CFMEU.
He is Party President in South Australia, having been first elected in 1996. He has stood for the Federal seat of Port Adelaide on two occasions for our party in 1998 and 2001.
He has also been a member of the SA State Committee since 1976. Perth was Secretary of the Peace Committee in Adelaide and helped to set up the Australian Peace Committee in 1978.
He also attended two world peace council meetings in Warsaw and Helsinki in 1982 and ’83.
He attended the Marxist-Leninist school in Moscow and was elected to the CC of the Party in 1996 and served on the CC for 18 years.
He represented our party as a guest of the DPRK and the CPC in 1999 and as a delegate to the meeting of Communist Parties in Lisbon in 2007.
He was elected to the Central Control Commission of the Party at the 12th Congress. He is a member of the Port Adelaide branch of the party and is a member of the Semaphore Workers’ Club.
Comrade Rob Gowland died in November last year. A member of a communist family, he was born in 1940 on the day the Menzies government banned the CPA. He studied history at the University of Sydney for a year before leaving in protest at his faculty’s conservative interpretation of history.
He directed the National Film Theatre for nine years, then joined Quality Films, which introduced Australians to films from socialist countries. He helped establish Sydney’s Mandolin cinema, a leading “art movie” venue.
A widely known film critic, his biting review of We of the Never-never was quoted in a major study of racism and Australia’s film history. His professional work was politically very important, and perfectly complemented his work in the Party, which he joined in about 1985. Until 2020 he was Sydney Central branch secretary, and his “Culture and Life” column and film reviews appeared regularly in “the Guardian”. They were also printed in communist party papers in Britain and the US, and he continued to write for them until not long before he died last year. A Central committee member, he played a major role in rebuilding the Party on the basis of Marxism-Leninism.