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A sad day for Australia

This is a sad day for Australia. Voters around the country have turned down a remarkable invitation to move our country forward.

The referendum was about bringing Australia together around three fundamental aims: respecting people, listening to people, and making better public policy in order to change lives for the better. These objectives of indigenous leaders, inspired by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, are also bedrock aspirations of trade unionism. Every working person knows how badly things can go wrong when those in positions of power do not listen to those impacted by decision making. The earliest trade unions on this continent were organised to ensure that these goals became real for working people. So when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers called on the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) to back the campaign for a Yes in the referendum, our Executive voted without opposition to support this call to action.

I am immensely proud of Queensland trade unionists who worked hard to win this referendum. Together with our comrades across the labour movement, our friends in civil society organisations, and the many volunteers of the Yes23 campaign, we made the case for change. I salute the union leaders, organisers, and delegates who explained patiently why voting Yes was union business. I applaud the union members who talked about the campaign with their co-workers, friends, and family. Most of all, I pay tribute to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trade unionists who asked non-indigenous Australians to vote Yes in the face of a misleading and often racist No campaign.

Just because the referendum campaign is over does not mean our work is finished.

So much remains to be done to realise the vision of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Queensland trade unionists will keep faith with the call to Voice, Treaty, and truth. We will continue to walk with indigenous communities and be guided by indigenous trade unionists. We will stand in solidarity with and act with determination to create justice, equality, and reconciliation for all. 


Media Contact: Kate Ruttiman – 0419 655 749