The Guardian • Issue #2084

Comrade ‘Jimmy’ Donovan

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2084
Comrade Jim “Jimmy” Donovan adresses the Conference.

Comrade Jim “Jimmy” Donovan is a lifelong member of the Communist Party of Australia where he is a member of the Maritime branch in Sydney and is also the President of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Veterans Organisation. He is a retired wharfie and leader of workers in what was the Waterside Workers Federation (WWF) but is now amalgamated with other unions covering workers in the Maritime industry to form the Maritime Union of Australia. Readers are recommended to check out a substantial interview with Jimmy in the Australian Marxist Review (#75 September 2023) – just look up ‘AMR Jimmy Donovan’ online.

Jimmy spoke at the Party’s Organising conference and received several standing ovations for his speech and his lifetime contribution to the Party and to workers. The following is the response of Comrade Andrew Irving, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia.


Thank you comrade, greetings from this conference of communists!

Jim’s contribution comes directly from the heart. A long and rich experience of party life. The essence of what it is to be a communist activist, and an essential part of what we are talking about at this conference. He has been an activist and leader in the community for 68 years. Jim continues to be highly regarded, recognised, supported, revered, and cherished.

This recognition and support is based on his genuine commitment and concrete application of party policy and practice that reflects our people-centred polices: the goal of building unity, activity and militant movements including application and recognition of the leading role of the Working Class and the need to stand up for these principles to organise, politicise, generate participation, and empower the workers. Importantly this was done without  being distracted by the lumpen caricature and misunderstanding of issues expressed by workers, or the error of the ultra-left, General strike strategy – both disruptive lies promoted in society, and used by the capitalist state and the bosses.

Jimmy shows his long history of commitment to a deep understanding of the need for unity, organisation and discipline, based on a respect for the contributions of the Party, his comrades and the community. A contribution that strengthens the party and its comrades by bringing knowledge and experience back into the party organisation to educate and enhance our policies in practice. Party decisions, campaigning and activity that are discussed and supported by branches cannot happen or advance if members aren’t active in the branch.

If you listen to Jim’s words they are peppered with humorous reminiscences of people and events that are part of the story of the maritime workers, a spoken history building on a common understanding of the strength of worker unity and collective leadership which has resulted in a long history of successful action, solidarity, and many victories.

These are not stories in isolation, but give us a rich picture of the characters and issues involved in the many struggles and campaigns, representing the influence and respect Jimmy has in the community and many areas of activity.

I have seen Jimmy in action at a number of forums and on the ground as a speaker, and how he draws in listeners that are absorbed by the colour, politics and experiences. Now he is providing a deep appreciation of what working comrades have been able and can, practically, organisationally, and politically achieve. He has given valuable examples of the practice, of the failures, the strategies, need for discipline, an active collective strategy, the many lessons learnt, and the victories.

Jim with every contribution presents generations of struggle showing the collective contributions of so many dedicated party comrades and supporter activists, over the years.

Jim has not come here to accept recognition but to continue his lifelong dedication and commitment to party comrades, workers, internationalism, and the future.

Read Jim’s reminiscences in the last two issues of The Australian Marxist Review (AMR). The editors were overwhelmed by the character, clarity and accessibility of the political, cultural and organisation message in these articles, presenting the history and essence of the communist spirit. It is not a story of clichés or academic props it is a direct expression that reveals our party, and what its reality must be.

It’s a reality and example of how we capture an understanding and apply it to the current struggles and movement that confronts us.

We are the communists, we know that all reality of life and society is political, we know unity is power. Solidarity and Internationalism for workers, and society is essential to building a movement for change amongst our sisters and brothers here and around the world.

Jim presents us with the principle of political understanding and analysis in practice in a way that we can access and must take forward. To empower, challenge us, our method and thinking, the perspectives, and motivations of worker and through them into mass of society.

Jim brings us a greeting and a challenge; how to work, to achieve respect and be successful in a why that empowers so many.

Comrades, I call on you now to show our respect and appreciation to for our Comrade Jim Donovan!

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