Ballarat Gold Mine – Motion

Juliana ADDISON (Wendouree) (15:07): I too am very saddened to rise to express and share my condolences to the family of Kurt Hourigan, who was fatally killed – he did not die at work, he was killed – at work. He was killed at work because his workplace was not safe.

That is why this government stood up and made our workplace manslaughter laws, because workers die far too often at work – but they do not die at work, they are killed at work. It is not passive. They die at work because they are killed on the job. That is why this government has stood up and said this is not okay.

We have said that it is not okay for workers to not go home. We have said that it is not okay for workers’ families to have their lives devastated and ruined, and that is why we voted for workplace manslaughter. The opposition did not vote for workplace manslaughter. You did not support the legislation that means that more workers will not be killed on the job.

James Newbury: On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, this is a condolence motion, and I would say respectfully: could we, on relevance, come back to the condolence motion, please?

Mary-Anne Thomas: On the point of order, Deputy Speaker, there is no point of order. This motion has been brought on by the Manager of Opposition Business to make a political point. I think the member, who actually represents the community that has been impacted, should be free to condole in her own way.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: On the point of order, the motion is of condolence. Let us –

Mary-Anne Thomas interjected.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The minister at the table knows better. The member to continue on the motion.

Juliana ADDISON: I welcome the opportunity to continue. I was an organiser with the Australian Workers’ Union for four years, and I am very proud to have been an elected official of the Australian Workers’ Union and to have represented Australian Workers’ Union members for four years.

This is the union that I worked for, which had one of their members killed in the workplace in my community. This is raw, and I will call out the absolute disappointment I have in the opposition trying to politicise a workplace death in my community. Do you know what happened on Thursday morning? The minister came up.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Through the chair.

Juliana ADDISON: I did not see the opposition coming up to the community. The Minister for Energy and Resources was there at 8 o’clock to meet with the union, to meet with Ronnie Hayden from the AWU, to meet with Ross Kenna from the AWU – the organiser that represents those workers, those workers who are hurting, those workers who are wondering why they are still alive, those workers who are struggling to work out why this has happened – because every worker deserves to come home safe.

As the member for Eureka said, this week is the anniversary of the Delacombe trench collapse – six years since two people died in my electorate because of unsafe work. They did not die, they were killed, because a company did not provide a safe workplace for two people, for Charlie Howkins and for Jack Brownlee.

Jack Brownlee’s dad worked the Ballarat Gold Mine. Jack’s dad, who buried his 21-year-old son because there was a trench collapse because there was not workplace safety, worked at that mine. And, guess what, he stopped working at that mine because he could not go underground anymore. The psychological damage that Dave has shared with me – and I know he is okay with me telling this story – was such that he said, ‘I can’t go back underground after my son was killed in a collapse.’

That is why we voted for workplace manslaughter laws. That is why we stand up for workers every day – not to grandstand, not to try and get political points, but because we are the Australian Labor Party and we are the voice of labour and we are the cause of labour. We get up and we fight every day with our union brothers and sisters. And I want to acknowledge the work that the Victorian Trades Hall does. We will be, on 28 April, stopping to pause on International Workers Memorial Day to remember every single worker who has been killed at work.

I invite the opposition to perhaps come along on 28 April and stand there and tell the people of Trades Hall, tell the unionists of Victoria, that you did not support workplace manslaughter laws. I invite you to do that. Come to Ballarat. Come and meet the Brownlees. Come and meet Charlie Howkins’s wife. Meet his kids, who do not have a dad because he was killed at work in Delacombe. This is what we stand for, and we condole with the family of Kurt Hourigan. We condole with his friends, with his workmates. But do you know what? We do not only send our deepest sympathies, we fight for the living. We fight for the living every single day, because workers must come home.

I will leave my remarks there. I will thank the Australian Workers’ Union. I will thank every unionist, every worker, every health and safety rep and everyone who says, ‘It’s not okay.’ And I really do hope that as we move forward I can expect better from the opposition – better for workers rights, better for wage theft, better for workplace manslaughter and not grandstanding.


You can take a look at more of my speeches to Parliament here.