John Shields

We begin this issue with a fine article by Ray Markey on the making of his recently published official history of the New South Labor Council, In Case of Oppression. Ray provides an invaluable overview of the life and times of Australia’s most influential state peak union body, as well as some thought- provoking remarks on the nature of ‘Laborism’ and on the tensions between ‘organisation’ and ‘movement’ inherent in all peak bodies.

This issue is also replete with commemorative pieces. Beverley Symons and Audrey Johnson contribute two lively accounts of celebrations held in Sydney last Spring to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Communist party of Australia. Bev’s account of the dinner reminds us that, notwithstanding the CPA’s passing, the spirit of solidarity and tradition of radical conviviality which in its better moments the Party did much to foster, are very much alive and well. Audrey’s piece leaves no doubt as to the depth of the Party’s contribution to the literature and lore of the Australian labour movement.

We also reproduce the text of an address by long time left-activist, Len Fox, commemorating two other anniversaries – Len’s 90th birthday and the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Movement Against War and Fascism, in which Len, of course, played an instrumental part. Len’s speech provides some intriguing insights on the links between progressive social movements then and now. Incidentally, a belated birthday best wishes, Len, from all of your fellow Branch members!

From Ross Edmonds we also receive a timely and poignant reminder that the struggle against nuclear testing in the Pacific has a long history and that women workers played a pioneering role in the first local protests against French testing back in the 1960s.

We are also pleased to reproduce two stirring poems by Australia’s ‘Poet Lorikeet’, Denis Kevans. One poem recalls the splendid solidarity shown by Australia’s wharfies towards the people of Indonesia during their successful struggle for independence from Dutch colonialism in the 1940s. There is an ironic message here for Australian unions today concerning the even longer struggle for independence by the people of East Timor. Denis’s other contribution focuses on the protracted Vista workers’ court case.

Read and enjoy!

As always, we invite members and non-members alike to submit articles, lyrics, verse, information, anecdotes (humorous as well as serious), remiscences, cartoons, research reports and requests, archive notes, newspaper snippets, etc. – indeed any communict!tion of interest to our readership.

A note, too, on an important development relating to the promotion of labour history in this state. In recent months, the Branch executive has moved to ensure that labour history and labour historians are properly represented in the wider sphere of historical endeavour, with Branch Treasurer, Lucy Taksa, being elected as Branch representative on the newly-formed History Council of New South Wales. Special tlumks are due to Lucy for her stirling efforts toward securing a voice for labour history in this important new forum.

Finally an appyeal to those of you who might like to chance a hand at production of The Hummer. In recent years, editing and production of the Branch bulletin has been a collective exercise and the Branch is keen to encourage wider membership involvement in the process. If you’d like to become involved, we’d be delighted to hear from you, Why not give it some thought?