Chris Haviland: Response to Questions

I have been an ALP member for nearly 38 years and a member of the NSW Left for 37 years. I have served both the Left and the Party in a number of capacities, including as a Member of the House of Representatives and as a local Councillor.

I was first drawn to politics during the rise of Gough Whitlam in the 1970’s, with his progressive agenda of equality and reform. I eventually joined the ALP in 1979 after becoming an active trade unionist in the Federal public sector.

Union background

I became a union delegate in the ACOA in 1978. I was extremely active at the workplace level from then until my election to Parliament in 1993.

I am proud of my record as a rank and file unionist. In my key delegate role, I frequently assisted members with industrial or personal grievance issues. I regularly made a difference to the working lives of members I represented.

This experience was valuable for me in my later roles as a Councillor and MP representing constituents. It will continue to form the basis of my approach as a Labor Senator, should I have the privilege of being elected.

Public office and Party service

I was elected to Campbelltown Council in 1987, and again in 1991. I was also elected to the NSW Local Government Association Executive in 1991, and won a rank and file preselection for the marginal Federal seat of Macarthur, which I won in the famous 1993 election.

In 2011, after a long period of unemployment, I returned to active roles in the Party. I had just started my own tutoring business. I became FEC President and an Annual Conference Delegate. I have attended Administrative Committee meetings since 2014, and am a member of the NSW Left Executive. I am now the Secretary of Hornsby Branch and a Left candidate for the Administrative Committee at this month’s Annual Conference.

Set out how you believe your personal values align with those of the ASU (see attached ASU Proud document). Your answer should include examples of where you have taken action in support of these values.

Having looked at the ASU proud document, I believe that my personal values align very closely with those outlined by the ASU.
I have always been a strong support of a high level of membership participation. In my own time as a union delegate I recruited hundreds of new members and tried tio engage them in the issues affecting them as much as possible.

I was also instrumental in establishing new delegates structures within my sub-branch, in a time of rapid change. I recruited and trained any new delegates and activists.

Unions are about collectivism and members supporting each other. I particularly like the way the ASU operates. It is one of the more democratic unions, and as one would expect given the nature of its coverage, places a high priority on issues around social justice, which is also one of my main policy priorities.

Set out how, if elected, you would support ASU members and ASU campaigns. Please provide examples of where you have done this if relevant.

As a Labor Senator I would always seek to be across campaigns run by unions like the ASU. I have certainly supported some of the recent campaigns, like the “We won’t wait” campaign around paid leave for Domestic and Family Violence, and the “No Profit from Rape” campaign. I supported both of these in recent ALP Branch motions and will be supporting them at Annual Conference. It is imperative that our elected members and Senators all stand up for these very important social justice issues.
The ASU does an outstanding job in promoting these campaigns and I would be proud to lend maximum support to them as a Senator.

Do you support the ASU’s We Won’t Wait campaign for a minimum 10 days paid domestic violence leave for all workers? What have you done to support this campaign?

As mentioned above, I absolutely support this campaign. Workers in many other countries have this basic condition of employment, and only a mean spirited Government like the one we currently have would oppose it.

We all need to continue to raise community awareness and provide advocacy for this campaign to ensure that the 10 days paid leave becomes a reality. Hopefully also this greater awareness results in a reduction of incidences of family violence.

What are your views on privatisation of government utilities (e.g. Sydney Water) or privatisation of public transport? What commitments can you give to oppose any such proposals in parliament, within the ALP or elsewhere?

I am opposed to the privatisation of essential services or government utilities, full stop. I have always totally rejected the notion that privately owned entities are more efficient. The evidence over many years has disproved this.
We are the poorer as a nation due to the neo-liberal obsession with privatisation over the past 30 years, which has even afflicted Labor Governments. We must ensure that future Federal and State Labor Governments learn the lessons of the past and reject this bad ideology.

The Sydney water example is of course a State Government issue, but all Labor people should stand up against it.
This has always been one of the issues about which I have been most passionate. I was one of only 3 Federal Labor MP’s at the time to speak up in caucus against the sale of the Commonwealth Bank by the Keating Government. These decisions invariably come back to bite us.

What is you view of the role of non-government community and disability organisations, and how they could be better supported? What would you do to advocate your views?

NGO’s in the community and disability sectors are a vital part of our social infrastructure. They provide essential services to the most disadvantaged groups on a not for profit basis.

Labor must ensure that Government funding is maintained and increased for these vital programs, and that the push for privatisation of, for example, NDIS services is resisted.

I have worked as a volunteer in the community sector, and I am well aware of its importance. I applaud the ASU’s strong advocacy in this area, and would provide every support for this as a Labor Senator.