Sunnyside, QLD, July 2023
South Sea Islander people were brought here against their will, they were slaves. And I just think it’s horrendous. I’ve got grandchildren. I think of them being taken from here to a place and forced to work.
There’s 29 people buried here in unmarked graves. They died a long way from home, and no one talks about them or cares about it. I do. I had the ground on my property scanned to reveal where the remains are located. I think we owe these people the truth and we owe them respect. No one wants to talk about it. A lot know, they just don’t want to talk about it. It’s inconvenient.
At a political level, I was brought up to believe you die on your feet, you don’t live on your knees. And had I not had strong opinions on issues, had I not stood up and told the truth, had I not said what I believed, I would have been in parliament much longer. But I believe you’ve got to stand up for what you think is right. And when you know that that’s going to cost you support and votes, it doesn’t in the final analysis matter, what you’ve got to do, is do what is right.
On the third of June 1991, the Labor federal government treasurer Paul Keating challenged the Prime Minister Bob Hawke for leadership of the Labor Party. Bill Ludwig was then running the Queensland ALP and state secretary of the Australian Workers Union. He knew I was a strong supporter and advocate of Paul Keating’s. So he told me that if I voted for Bob Hawke, and I lost my seat, I would have a job for life, a well paid one, such as a p position on the State Industrial Commission on half a million dollars or something like that.
I knew that was wrong. So I went on national television and said I was voting for Paul Keating. I paid a price for that. Ludwig helped undermine my campaign in 93 and I lost by 300 votes. But I’d do it again because it was the right thing to do. And unfortunately, as you watch politicians, 90% of them aren’t prepared to do that. They’d rather just be there.
I think if you’ve got to pay a price or sacrifice your own comfort for what’s right, you should do it. I’ve never had any doubt about that.