On Saturday 27th July, Thirroul Branch of Australian Labor Party hosted its centenary dinner at the Bulli Workers Club with special guest and former Prime Minister, the Hon. Bob Hawke AC.
160 Labor members and supporters from across the Illawarra were in attendance to help celebrate 100 years of Labor action in Thirroul.
“We are thrilled that Labor’s most successful Prime Minister and now elder statesman of our party has accepted the branch’s invitation.” said Branch President, Chris Lacey, “Bob has always been a very strong supporter of the Illawarra – as a trade union leader and Labor Prime Minister – and we welcome his involvement as a very special & honoured guest to help celebrate the branch’s milestone. The highlight of the night was when Bob belted out a solo version of ‘Solidarity Forever’ in full.”
“Our centenary as a branch is a celebration of Labor’s past and present commitment to advancing the rights of working people in our local community. Not many Labor branches can claim to have reached 100 years, so Thirroul members are among a very special group in our party.” Mr Lacey said
Mr Lacey said Thirroul branch now joins other Labor branches in the Illawarra to have reached that milestone, including Bulli-Woonona and Port Kembla branches.
“Labor is a part of the Illawarra community and we are the oldest political party in the nation. Our local branch structures play a key role in enabling rank & file members to help shape the future of our party and its policies. Kevin Rudd’s recent commitment to involving rank & file members in the election of Labor’s federal leader is a clear demonstration of that.” Mr Lacey said.
The evening was also attended by Sharon Bird (Member for Cunningham, Minister for Regional Development, Regional Communications, and Road Safety,), Stephen Jones (Member for Throsby) and Labor’s candidate for Gilmore, Neil Reilly.
“In the Illawarra we have two excellent and hard-working Labor MPs in Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, and we hope to support the election of a third in Neil Reilly for Gilmore at the upcoming election.” Mr Lacey said
Also in attendance was a great friend of Thirroul branch in the former Member for Hughes and Minister in the Whitlam Government, the Hon. Les Johnson AM.
“The Hughes electorate once covered the northern suburbs of the Illawarra and Les was our federal Member throughout the 1960s and 1970s. With Les’s help, Thirroul branch worked with the local community to prevent construction of a massive coal loader in the northern suburbs in the early 1970s. It will be great to see him again.” Mr Lacey said.
Mr Lacey said that as part of the proceedings at the function, current members of Thirroul branch were presented with a commemorative lapel pin.
“Thirroul Labor has a rich and proud history of service to our party and the community. We have seven Life Members. And we are a diverse branch too – our oldest member is 90 and has attended almost every monthly meeting in 60 years. Our youngest member finished the HSC last year. We welcome new members to our branch.” Mr Lacey said.
A book titled Illawarra Agitators – A Centenary History of Thirroul Labor has been published and will be launched shortly.