House debates

Wednesday, 1 September 2021


Gallacher, Senator Alexander McEachian (Alex)

6:28 pm

Photo of Chris HayesChris Hayes (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Alex Gallacher was a truck driver. He worked airside as part of the aircrew for TAA. He became a union organiser. Importantly, he was elected secretary of the South Australia/Northern Territory branch of the Transport Workers Union. In 2010 he became a senator of the Australian parliament, representing the great state of South Australia. That's a significant and telling curriculum vitae for a working-class man. He never lost sight of who he was and those he was determined to represent to the best of his ability. Alex was a committed Labor man and fiercely loyal to the people of South Australia.

For those of us that knew him, I think the best words to describe him are that he was down to earth, genuine and direct. There was no pretence about him. He was honest. Those are words that would probably come to mind for all of us who have dealt with him. Alex's great mate is Senator Glenn Sterle. Together they formed a dynamic duo in our Labor caucus, particularly when it came to matters of road safety or matters affecting the road transport industry. They were passionate about those causes.

Alex, as I said, was a working man in a workers' party. He was never slow to remind colleagues if he thought they were straying from what he saw were the key principles of the Labor Party and if we were slow to move to protect workers' rights. He was fiercely loyal to the party itself. He was a strong advocate for improving road safety and the conditions of the road transport industry. By the way, it's an industry which tragically has a fatality rate almost 10 times higher than the average of all other Australian industries, so clearly his passions were well directed in that respect. I remember he once addressed caucus and said words to this effect: 'Truck drivers work hard to make a living, but they shouldn't need to die to make a living.' His contribution was short, direct, considered, but always, always compelling. Alex didn't waste words. He didn't believe in long speeches. He simply conveyed to those who listened what he genuinely believed. It was raw honesty.

One thing is certain, and that is that Alex Gallacher made a difference for the better for workers, particularly those in the transport industry. But, more than that, he made a difference for the better in the way he represented the people of South Australia. To his wife, Paola, and to his children and grandchildren, please accept my condolences and know that Alex was much loved and respected by all who knew him and those who had the privilege to work with him. Alex Gallacher, great man, good mate, rest in peace.


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