Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2018


Frusher, Mr Douglas Boyd

7:50 pm

Photo of Alex GallacherAlex Gallacher (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to take a few moments of the Senate's time to commemorate the contribution to the Transport Workers Union of Douglas Frusher. Doug died on 27 June 2018. On 17 August 2018, last Friday, I was able to make a small contribution at the commemoration and celebration of his life, and I put some facts on the record there with respect to his contribution to the Transport Workers Union South Australian and Northern Territory branch.

Doug was born on 7 September 1941 in Rainbow, Victoria, to Clarence Frusher and Fanny Jean Frusher. Clarence was, I think, a captain in the Australian Army, and Fanny was a nursing matron. Doug didn't complete high school—of that we're absolutely certain. There is a suspicion he barely completed primary school. But what he did get in that rural environment is a really good appreciation of the needs of working-class people and especially working-class men and women.

He joined the Transport Workers Union in 1968, and he contributed as a member in good standing for almost 50 years. During that 50 years, he progressed from being an active member to being a delegate to being a member of the branch committee of management, running the affairs of the union. In 1998 he was elected, along with me, as the president of the South Australian and Northern Territory branch of the TWU. My relationship with him was from around 1983. We continued on as a team, so to speak, in the South Australian and Northern Territory branch until I resigned to come here and Doug resigned his position as president.

This is what I really want to get on the record here. If you did a Google word search of 'union' in the Hansard of this place in recent times, you would come up with all of the awful allegations that Senator the Hon. Michaelia Cash throws out there as ammunition and political cannon fodder every day, but nothing could be further from the truth. Here is a person with 50 years good standing with a union. In all of that time, he never earned a cent out of the union. His only need for the union was that he wanted to make workplaces fairer and safer and spread that ability to improve working conditions across his workplace, across the Adelaide Airport. He was an employee of TAA and went on to Qantas. For some 40-plus years, all he wanted was the ability to get fair workplaces, decent working conditions and reasonable take-home pay. He never saw gender, race, or colour—any of that. He was just an eminently fair person who, every day of his life, worked for the betterment of his fellow workers. He didn't draw on the resources of the union in any way personally. Nothing could be further from the truth than some of the allegations that these people—not all the people but some people—on the other side throw out there. All he was after was a working-class Australia and egalitarian, fair and safe workplaces. When you've finished with your workplace, you make the region safer. Then you make the industry safer. You make the whole sector safer.

It's no mistake that the airline industry enjoys great wages and conditions. It's built on the hard work of people like Douglas Frusher—selfless people. He never sought the limelight. He chaired the meetings with scrupulous honesty and fairness and was meticulous with respect to the financial records of the union. He had a smart brain, despite his lack of formal education. He was my friend and my mentor. We made some very good decisions, both financial decisions and campaign decisions. We fought long, hard campaigns, and we won. And he didn't feel the need to go and extol his own virtues; he just looked for the next challenge.

That's what working class union members do. Nothing could be further from the truth than what Senator Cash and others allege. People donate their time and their effort to make the whole environment they work in better, for the betterment of all Australians. They don't take from it; they add to it. They give back, day in, day out. All I'd like to say at the end of this is: a contribution well done. Vale, Doug Frusher.