The Guardian • Issue #2015

“Inspiration and hope”

How the lower-northern Qld tour reignited the class fight in me

  • by Kyle M
  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2015

The morning of 23rd June came with a blustery cold wind to the town of Childers in Queensland. Particularly felt by myself and my fellow sub-contractors working tirelessly from the early hours to prepare and enact our duties for the day.

Sat upon the top of a hill like the proverbial dog on the tuckerbox, Childers is a town of red-dirt, hardworking people and history of tragedy that cannot be overstated. Just last month, on 23rd June was the anniversary of the terrible Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel fire that claimed the lives of several workers. With this in mind, I took a small smoko break to brush up on some theory. On that anniversary, I was to meet with the representatives of the CPA coming through town on their Lower-Northern tour, and I was determined to represent myself well to these comrades from the big smoke. Up until this point in time my only interaction with my fellow Marxists was limited strictly to the somewhat impersonal Zoom meetings and occasional texts and emails. So to say I was nervous would be like saying the October Revolution was a small gathering of dissatisfied workers.

Our meeting was set to occur at lunchtime at the local bowls club. So it was that I set aside my roller tray and informed my friends and colleagues that I would soon be off to a meeting that was of some import, and I would likely not be back for an hour or two. In truth, I wasn’t expecting much but to discuss some theory, perhaps some updates on events coming up in the cities. How wrong I was.

Upon entering the bowls club, I was immediately greeted by the sight of what I was sure were my comrades. Though I had never met Comrade David or Graham until this moment, the red colour scheme of their manner of dress was immediately conspicuous to me. I was greeted by both with hearty welcomes and warm handshakes and promptly escorted to a table to meet another member of the Party named Louise, who I had likely passed in the street several times without knowing of her revolutionary inclinations. Louise, I soon discovered, had lived quite an exciting life, and her passion for progressive issues was immediately apparent.

Once the introductions and niceties had been observed, we got to what I perceived to be the true purpose of this meeting. These were not gentlemen who were in my small town to bandy crooked words or engaged in some sort of big-city adventurism in the working-class rural centres of Queensland. These were men who knew their business and were keen to be about it. The main topics at hand were the local issues, namely the exploitation and mistreatment of the migrant workers and issues of the cashless debit card that, up until the recent rollback, was to be the fate of many welfare recipients of the greater Wide-Bay Burnett region. Most importantly, and somewhat surprisingly, I found both David and Graham to be attentive and quick to offer the support of the Brisbane branch of the Party in matters of local issues that Louise and I brought up.

The effect on myself and Louise (who I have now met several times to discuss organising and these local issues further) was immense and immediate. Here we sat, two comrades so isolated in the seemingly endless sea of conservatism that pervades small towns, who had up until this meeting been unaware that there was even another Communist living within 100 KM let alone just up the street from one another. And we were fired up! Plans of solidarity events for migrant workers, open letters to the Prime Minister, and even the picketing of the local MP Keith Pitt’s office were suddenly flowing into the collective imaginations of all present.

In a meeting that lasted only a few scant hours I had found that the fire in my belly for action that had hence been dormant beneath a thick crust of semi-defeatism and apathy had once again been reignited. I could see that this was the same for both comrades of the Brisbane branch. These men were here not just to build the Party, but to help us to build our Party.

And herein lies the true victory of the Lower-Northern QLD tour. Inspiration and hope through comradely discussion and planning as well as pledges of support for us more isolated members to tackle issues that may seem minuscule but are nonetheless issues that we perceive and interact with daily. True enough, we are thin on the ground in these smaller rural areas and regional centres but our direct interaction and solidarity with the (often heavily exploited) populations can be invaluable in shaping and moulding the Communist Party of Australia and its future with the working class of all areas of this great southern land.

I would encourage all comrades of the Party and supporters of the movement everywhere to take a leaf from the book of comrades David and Graham. Leave your bubbles and spheres of influence, connect with your more isolated comrades, and discuss the similar issues they are facing in their small, out of the way parts of the country. For in towns such as Childers you may find that some citizens are as politically red as the soil that feeds our agricultural home.

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