FORMER prime minister, Bob Hawke will be visiting Bulli on Saturday to attend the Thirroul Labor Branch’s centenary dinner.
Branch president Chris Lacey expects about 160 Labor members and supporters from across the Illawarra to be in attendance to help celebrate at Bulli Workers Club.
“We are thrilled that Labor’s most successful prime minister and now elder statesman of our party has accepted the branch’s invitation,” Mr Lacey said.
“Bob has always been a very strong supporter of the Illawarra –as a trade union leader and Labor prime minister -and we welcome his involvement as a very special & honoured guest to help celebrate the branch’s milestone.
“Our centenary as a branch is a celebration of Labor’s past and present commitment to advancing the rights of working people in our local community. Not many Labor branches can claim to have reached 100 years, so Thirroul members are among a very special group in our party,” he said.
Mr Lacey said Thirroul branch now joins other Labor branches in the Illawarra to have reached that milestone, including Bulli-Woonona and Port Kembla branches.
“Labor is a part of the Illawarra community and we are the oldest political party in the nation. Our local branch structures play a key role in enabling rank and file members to help shape the future of our party and its policies. (Present Labor Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd’s recent commitment to involving rank and file members in the election of Labor’s federal leader is a clear demonstration of that,” he said.
Mr Lacey said that the evening will also be attended by Federal MP for Cunningham and Minister for Regional Development, Regional Communications and Road Safety Sharon Bird, Federal MP for Throsby Stephen Jones and Labor’s candidate for Gilmore, Neil Reilly.
Also attending will be a great friend of Thirroul branch in the former Member for Hughes and Minister in the Whitlam Government, Les Johnson.
“The Hughes electorate once covered the northern suburbs of the Illawarra and Les was our federal member throughout the 1960s and 1970s. With Les’s help, Thirroul branch worked with the local community to prevent construction of a massive coal loader in the northern suburbs in the early 1970s. It will be great to see him again,” Mr Lacey said.
Mr Lacey said that as part of the proceedings at the function, current members of Thirroul branch will be presented with a commemorative lapel pin. A short film will be also presented and there will be many photos of Labor memorabilia and past members.
“Thirroul Labor has a rich and proud history of service to our party and the community. We have seven Life Members. And we are a diverse branch too –our oldest member is 90 and has attended almost every monthly meeting in 60 years. Our youngest member finished the HSC last year. We welcome new members to our branch,” he said.
A book titled Illawarra Agitators – A Centenary History of Thirroul Labor has been published and will be shortly launched, although advance copies will be available at the dinner.