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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9393

Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (16:53): There have been very generous contributions about Senator Hutchins's career. I'll go back to the period 1993-98, where Steve was arguably the most successful union leader in Australia. The New South Wales branch had the highest rates; the state awards were higher than federal awards; the owner-driver rates were higher than anything achieved federally; and there was a jurisdiction in which they could get resolution were there any problems.

I came into the leadership group of the TWU about '96, and Steve was at the absolute height of his power. He taught us to campaign and win, and the confidence that the man displayed in those campaigns was extraordinary. I was a very junior person in that leadership group, looking for someone to display some leadership, some courage and some achievement, and Steve was the epitome of all of that. In the 15 per cent campaign that was mentioned, we didn't actually believe we could do that, but, with Steve's leadership as federal president, he was able to pull that campaign off.

He had a really interesting leadership style. He knew who he disagreed with. He'd make some interesting comments about people in our different branches—because we were essentially a federation of seven warring branches—but, as soon as the bell was rung, we were all on the same side. Whilst he may have had his differences with other branches, he was so excellent at leading people that, as soon as the battle was started, his enemies were the first ones to go to his aid. He was an extraordinary leader in that respect. The generations that he inspired to follow on from him are still there. Wayne Forno, Tony Sheldon, Michael Kane and all of those organisers that were there yesterday at the funeral. He left behind a legacy in that five-year period which still affects, helps and furthers the interests of all working people in Australia today. I think he made a truly extraordinary contribution to the wider labour movement, and it was driven off his simple principles: a deal's a deal, and you never rat. If you rat once, you'll rat twice, so you never rat. He stuck to his principles and his guns for all his working life. I too add my condolences to his wife, children and grandchildren.