ALP right loses AWU elections

July 2, 1997

ALP right loses AWU elections

By James Vassilopoulos

In elections in the Australian Workers Union, the positions of national secretary, national president and two of the four national vice-presidents have been won by a broad coalition, against the Queensland-NSW ALP right faction of Bill Ludwig and Russ Collinson.

The winning team included members of the Victorian ALP right, the left Port Kembla branch, the WA branch, the right Newcastle branch and the tobacco and glassworkers sections of the AWU.

According to the Australian Electoral Commission, Port Kembla branch secretary Graham Roberts beat the Queensland state secretary, Ludwig, for the position of president by 17,673 votes to 15,136.

For national secretary, Terry Muscat defeated the Queensland right candidate, Vern Falconer, 14,815 to 14,225 votes.

Queensland and NSW are the largest branches of the AWU, with 84,000 of the 130,000 members nationally.

The Roberts-Muscat ticket won up to 45% of the vote in Queensland (indicating extensive disillusionment with the old leadership), and high votes in their respective home states and regions. It campaigned strongly on defending jobs and a more member-orientated union. Roberts has a long tradition of fighting for jobs in the Port Kembla region.

An AWU source told Green Left that the winning team was formed around agreement on the need for strong, autonomous state and regional branches and a strong national office running campaigns.

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