- by Graham Holton and David Matters
- The Guardian
- Issue #2014
David Matters Assistant General Secretary
See Part One
In the last part of our report, we left readers with a brief outline of our travels on Friday 24th June. That day we are in Bundaberg, a city of great potential. The city is famous for its Bundaberg Rum distillery and its sugar cane fields. We handed out the Guardian and leaflets, and David spoke outside the National Party office of Keith Pitt, Federal MP for Hinkler. Pitt was behind the cashless welfare cards, giving out $10,000 per welfare card contractor. The cards force recipients to go to the major department stores rather than local stores and markets. ICACC needs to investigate the role of the LNP and its contractors. Pitt was behind the AUKUS deal for US nuclear submarines. He must go in the next election and we must fight to end the atrocious laws attacking workers’ rights. We drew a crowd and were well received, with people agreeing with our message. It was a great morning.
After this success, we went to the Taribelang Aboriginal Corporation. We interviewed Indigenous people, Wayne and Peter, who were delighted to meet us and tell us the problems of Indigenous people in the area. They run tours telling people about the Indigenous history and culture of the Bundaberg area. It was a delightful meeting. Reading local newspapers also gave us great information on the issues facing the local community, which the big media do not follow, allowing an excellent opening for the Guardian. Issues here include lack of housing, health, and the high rate of women in poverty. We came away feeling there was so much potential in the area.
This was an amazing trip! We were blown away by all these great people we met, learning the hardships they faced in the area. Overall, we contacted unions, Indigenous people, new members, and locals. The 1000 KM trip was thrilling and revealed the great potential in Queensland’s rural towns. The same problems exist everywhere: poor housing and lack of accommodation; casualisation and horrible working conditions; health and nursing ratios; and the feeling of alienation. With the LNP, Labor, and the media not listening to their problems, they vote for Pauline Hansen and Bob Katter. This creates a great opportunity here. The rural population needs to know that they are not alone and that we support them. Many people here have economic and social issues, so ask them what their problems are, listen, and then suggest how we could assist them. It’s a great way to spread the class struggle and support the workers. Lenin had the same problems when he put together the party and spread the message of Communism; his experiences are a must-read. One hundred years later, Lenin still provides the answers!
There are a lot of things that we learned from the trip that we can pass on. When we designed the itinerary, we knew we would have success, but it went even better than we expected. We had brought along a large box of flyers, Guardians, and books for handing out on the trip. We had a cheap edition of the Communist Manifesto, which proved to be very popular.
We designed the itinerary beforehand, with the kilometres to travel between our stops, who to contact, possible unions to visit, and a list to cheap hotels. Each day was roughly set out, but it left enough time to do other things as they came up. For example, we arrived at Childers on the day of commemorating the backpackers’ deaths. After interviewing people, we found where to find the memorials to the cane cutters and South Sea Islander workers. This meant the town had a class consciousness for the workers’ struggle. This led to other ideas, such as speaking to South Sea Islander associations on another trip.
Distances between towns are important. We drove over 1000 KM on the trip. We booked hotels for the first two nights before the trip and left the other nights to book, judging by what we were doing the next day. Our budget was $120/$130 per night for two people. Refuelling at the cities is important as there are long distances between towns. Avoid working to exhaustion. Put in a rest day every third day to replenish the energy and collect your thoughts. Allocate some time at the end of the day to consolidate what has been done and to think clearly about the next stage of the trip. Write up each night! We included things in our report such as: what was set out that day; how we did it; where we went; what we did; who said what; what we learnt, and how to improve the next day or for another trip. Keep a daily diary; otherwise, it will become a jumble. WiFi can be a problem, even in hotels that say they have them. Look after your health and eat wisely.
We learnt not to visit the union offices without prior communications as the union reps are often out. Cold visiting an office meant getting pass the secretary. Call beforehand to arrange a time to speak to someone. The best way to contact the regional offices is by calling their head offices in Brisbane. Finding union offices’ contact details in the country areas is difficult, and we spent hours trying to find rural phone numbers. Due to the declining numbers of union members, unions are consolidating into Brisbane.
This trip leads directly onto the November northern trip, The Jack Henry Tour, out of Townsville. We have further trips in mind, as well.