Establishing relationships between unions in PNG and other countries. Closing address by Richard Marles, Assistant Secretary, ACTU. Wednesday 9 February 2005 at Lamana Hotel, Port Moresby, Papa New Guinea.

I would like to say a few words but before I do would like to make a small
presentation to John Paska.

John, on behalf of the ACTU and the entire
Australian delegation, this is a small token of our appreciation. Thank you for
having us.

At this point John Paska was presented with an Akubra

I would also like to thank a number of people who have made this
delegation possible.

At the PNG end both Beatrice and Clements have been
instrumental in making the delegation a success – thank you.

And to
Neil, thank you for driving us around all week and in particular for taking us
out to the Bomana War Cemetery this afternoon.

At the Australia and New
Zealand end it would be pretty obvious to everyone that without the help of both
Sarah Fitzpatrick and Mike Ingpen this delegation would not have happened
– thank you also.

And if you will allow me I would also like to
thank in absentia Sav Chirumbolo who works with me at the ACTU and who has put
an awful lot of effort into this delegation.

But, as I did on Monday,
most of all I would like to thank the PNG unions for it has been a privilege to
be able to spend the last few days with you. I know I speak on behalf of all the
delegation when I say that it has been invigorating to have this time.

see what you face, to see how you survive, and to see you win is truly
inspirational. And as we take this back to Australia, it is very important that
you understand that we gain an enormous amount from this relationship.

So thank you – thank you for allowing us to have that.

have had a productive three days. Each of the union partners now has an agenda
for co-operation and I think we have a much better idea about how we can
implement a training program for PNG unionists through the TUC.

It has
not been without its difficulties. I think that some expectations will have been
lowered, but also on the Australian end I think there is a realisation that much
more needs to be done by the Australian unions too.

These difficulties
were inevitable because what we are trying to do here is a difficult thing. This
is hard stuff.

What is critical … what is absolutely critical is that
we make this work. For, as I said on Monday, as a coordinated effort to
establish relationships between unions in one country and unions in another this
is a world first. If we can make it work then it will be a much need shining
example to the rest of the union world about how unions in a developed country
can help unions in a developing country. And that in turn is crucial to
achieving the goal of global worker solidarity.

So rest assured that you
will be seeing a lot more of us in the future. Perhaps not in one big group as
we have been here, but as each of the union partners’ plans unfold you
will be seeing a lot more of these people individually and we hope that we will
be seeing more of you down in Australia.

There is one other issue that I
would like briefly to mention.

I am sure that my PNG brothers and sisters
will allow me to make the observation that politics in PNG is characterized far
to often by corruption. And the victims of this are PNG’s workers and
PNG’s urban poor.

We talked earlier today about the PNG Labor Party
and the role of the union movement in it. What is clear is that the union
movement has a pivotal role in establishing in PNG a democracy free from
corruption. Because at the heart of every flourishing democracy you will find
the trade union movement.

140 years ago in Australia, in the
1860’s, it was a successful union campaign which extended the vote from
the landowning establishment to ordinary working people. And in that successful
union campaign you essentially had the birth of the Australian democracy.

I am sure the same will happen here. For I know that the achievement of
a democracy in PNG free from corruption begins and ends in this room.

need a united trade union movement with every union sitting under the one roof
and with a strong national center in the form of the TUC. And the steps that you
have already taken down this path in the last twelve months have been

In taking those steps be assured: you will change your

And whether you change it by influencing the old parties or
whether you change it by invigorating anew the Papua New Guinea Labor Party,
what matters is that at the heart of things, driving the issue, is a united and
strong union movement.

So as you strive to achieve your democracy, a
democracy above corruption, know this: you have friends to your south; friends
who are thrilled by what you are doing; and friends who are ready and willing,
at every turn, to provide whatever help we possibly can.


Richard Marles
Assistant Secretary
Australian Council of Trade
Wednesday 9 February 2005. Lamana Hotel, Port Moresby, Papa New