Are we really prepared to get our hands dirty?

June 1, 2001

Whilst there hasn’t been an update notice lately, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that there hasn’t been anything happening with the dispute. Again, there have been far too many instances of members doing their bit to mention all of them here, but I’m sure you all know who you are (and thank you to all). Our “fair go” leaflets continue to be well received by the general public, as have our newspaper and radio advertisements which were run this week and last in selected regional areas. The campaign continues, and the more members who pitch in and do their bit will mean the sooner we can get the dispute over and won.

To be frank, one very disappointing aspect has been the general failure of members to properly enforce our “footpath firefighting” ban on commercial premises. I mean, there hasn’t exactly been a deluge of media coverage about buildings, office blocks and factories burning to the ground has there? The reasons for this non-compliance are many and varied, but basically it seems to boil down to a misplaced fear of some members that they might get into some sort of trouble personally, or the view that this ban isn’t quite “right” or “fair”.

Perhaps our biggest difficulty in forcing a successful resolution to the dispute is the fact that firefighters are basically good-hearted people who try to do the right thing by everyone. That may well be commendable – and certainly the primary reason that we are held in such high esteem by the general public – but it simply won’t help us win this dispute. A pat on the back or thumbs-up from passers-by is encouraging, but is it really enough? The answer, unfortunately, is no.

The people we are up against – the Carr Government – are now so arrogant that they’re prepared to ignore just about anyone and everyone on any issue that doesn’t suit them. That they’ve got a 17 seat majority and over 20 months to run until the next election doesn’t help our cause, nor does the fact that the Chikarovski Opposition is so hopeless that it really isn’t an opposition at all. This Government clearly has very few principles, no sense of fairness and absolutely no shame. It follows that unless we’re prepared to roll up our sleeves and get down into the gutter to fight them on their own terms then we’ll probably never properly settle the D&D issue. We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the elected officials can no longer win this dispute for you, it’s now all down to you.

Discussions between the Union and the Government continue, but to be honest there still isn’t any sign of a breakthrough – yet. Our campaign continues, and our bans remain in force despite the ongoing threat of $5000-a-day fines against us. The State Committee will meet again in the coming week to review the dispute.


Chris Read
State Secretary



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