Jim Kitay

This issue begins with an article by Damian O’Connor, reminding us of the wonderful national parks to the west of Sydney, and the role of successive NSW Labor governments in securing them for the future. Recent initiatives by conservative federal and state governments to roll back environmental protections or expose fragile ecosystems to potential degradation reinforces his point that it is necessary to remain vigilant to protect our natural heritage.

Ron Ringer has contributed another interesting article on the history of brickmaking. Continuing the story begun in the last issue, this time he focuses on the technology of producing bricks. We see that changing technologies and fashions have done much to produce variations in the built environment. This is followed, appropriately, by another article on the building industry. Based on his doctoral thesis at the University of Sydney, John Elder discusses the controversial subject of competency based training with particular reference to the building trades. He notes that this is not a simple matter of employers versus unions, rather that unions, employers and governments can be found on both sides of the debate over how best to ensure that the building workforce has suitable skills.

Danny Blackman provides the lyrics to the song “Stand Together”, written for the West Australian TLC in the context of a legislative assault on the labour movement in the 1990s, and now sung by union choirs in other states as well.

John Dean offers an account of three generations of the Goggin family, who were active supporters of political and industrial labour from the latter half of the nineteenth century. They played a particularly noteworthy part in political campaigns in regional NSW around the time of Federation.

The last item is an obituary of Joe Owens, who died in 2012. It is written by distinguished University of Melbourne historian Verity Burgmann and first appeared in the Melbourne branch publication the Recorder. It appears here (as do the lyrics to “Stand Together”) with permission.

Finally, apologies that The Hummer has not been appearing more frequently. The delay was due to a lack of suitable items. If you, or anyone you know, have a story to tell of the history of the labour movement with a focus on NSW, please send contributions to The Hummer at  sydneybranch.asslh@gmail .com. We would like to hear from you!