Josh Heuchan died tragically on July 30 in a skiing accident while holidaying in New Zealand. He was only 33. Josh was a special human being, a dear friend and comrade: he was committed to the ideals of trade unionism, of communism and human freedom.
Josh grew up on the central coast of NSW before attending the privileged halls of Barker College in Sydney. He was dux of his class. His experience at Barker bred in him a loathing of such privilege and fostered his need to connect with working class life.
At university, he became active in campus politics, joining Left Alliance. He worked in a number of jobs: graphic designer for the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers union in Sydney, executive officer for the National Tertiary Education Union at Sydney University, a geography teacher and intrepid world traveller, among others. He finally worked for the NSW Commission for Children and Young People. He was active supporting youth rights against the police. He was a member of the Progressive Public Service Association, the left faction of the PSA union in NSW.
A sometimes member of the Socialist Alliance in Australia, Josh tired easily of the far left's myopia. The continual "happy clappy" attitude of the left's revivalism and its dead-end sect perspectives irked him. While committed to the idea of refounding a genuine Communist Party in Australia, he latterly spent much of his formidable energy in his personal relationships and on his outstanding sporting abilities. The love of a wonderful woman, Gwen, saw him happier and more relaxed than at any time I knew him.
I first met Josh while teaching at Macquarie University in Sydney. He was a student of mine. Through our activity in campus politics we became friends. As he moved away from his earlier anarchist and 'green' leanings, we became firm comrades. He was without doubt one of the finest human beings I have ever met.
His body is trapped permanently in a glacier beneath the mountain that took him. It is fitting that a mountain stands as a monument to Josh. His was a huge personality and his love was boundless.
My dear friend and comrade, you are desperately missed. My thoughts are with his partner Gwen. A red salute to you Josh, you are not forgotten.
From Green Left Weekly, August 11, 2004.
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