Vintage Reds Convenor’s Reports 2014 to 2021

These reports are an invaluable resource, comprising details of the first eight years of the Vintage Reds at work.

Thanks to Jane for a fine body of work.

Where are we in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out?

I was very excited to see a box of AstraZeneca vaccines being walked in the front door of a local GP clinic a month or so ago. At last, a return to normality, I thought.

Not so fast. In their astonishingly inept fashion, the Coalition government has thrown spanners in the works and the roll-out is a mess, with what seems like daily attempts to rephrase what has been said in order to dodge responsibility for cock-ups.

Former Health Department secretary Stephen Duckett criticised the government as politely as he could in Monday’s Canberra Times,

[Duckett] blasted the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout,
calling it an “expensive shambles” & “train wreck” shrouded in
secrecy about the use of contractors & consultants.

By now, most Vintage Reds will have been able to get at least their first shot of AstraZeneca.

Here is a little GUIDE to VACCINES, while we wait for the next reword and wind-back of the government’s commitment to our health.

It’s important to keep in mind these things:

  • the benefit of these vaccines is to prevent people from getting a serious case of COVID.
  • vaccinated people are less likely to transmit the virus.
  • the side effects of any vaccine may be unpleasant enough to think about taking a panadol before you get your shot, prophylactically. And take a couple of days off if you can.
  • a flu shot is also a good idea, but talk to your doctor about spacing it with the vaccine.
  • and last, keep an eye on developments with new vaccines and news about the old ones. The state of what we know is constantly changing.

So, what are all these vaccines?

Continue reading

Stop the US Blockade of Cuba

Several Vintage Reds members turned up in Garema Place, Canberra, on 24 April 2021, to join a protest against the unjust, criminal and unneighbourly US blockade of Cuba. Banners and flags were erected and photos taken for posting to social media. The demonstration was part of the world wide “Bridges of Love” movement to build pressure on the US to change its vote in the upcoming UN motion on 23 June. (#UnblockCuba.

Australia Cuba Friendship Society Vice-president Pam Dean gave a description of a Children’s hospital in Las Tunas for which the Society had raised $A6,840. A cheque for that amount was presented to the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos in April 2019.

ACFS President Rob Parnell made a short speech on the National Declaration emanating from the December 2020 ACFS National Consultation, and read an extract from the Declaration. ACFS member Marcos Cruz spoke on the blockade.

Pete West played Guantanamera on the harmonica and Christopher Lang led the singing of this well known Cuban song, with Rob Parnell harmonising.

Rob Parnell


Vintage Reds retired union members of the Canberra region welcome you to this page of reviews, commentary and union stories.

Members are encouraged to submit their work for publication here — an email to will get you started!

How things have changed in Canberra – the sad story of Milk!

by Chris Warren

In 1996, as many will remember, many small businesses and workers delivered milk throughout Canberra’s suburbs. Using large amounts of labour and capital equipment, pint bottles were delivered, 7 days a week, at a cost of 65 cents per 600ml. This was $1.08 per litre (1996).

Well, how things have changed. In 2021 all these useful jobs have been destroyed and the incomes diverted to boosting profits of big capitalist concerns such as Coles. If bottles of milk were still supplied by workers, then a litre of milk, delivered, using Reserve Bank data for average inflation (2.3%), would cost $1.91. Instead, when not on ‘special’ a litre of Canberra milk costs $2.21.

At the same time, supermarkets use excessive market power to reduce payments to farmers for their raw milk and to cut the wages and working conditions for their workforces. All this is a consequence of milk market deregulation wrought in 2000-2001 – higher prices, less jobs, less service and, of course, higher concentration within industry.

Once an oligopolist such as Coles has captured almost all of the supply, they can then start to undercut remaining producers by inserting their own house brands, thereby boosting profits while appearing to do the right thing by their customers.

In normal years, Coles ends-up with over a billion dollars in profit, i.e. so-called EBIT (Earnings Before Interest & Tax). See

In all this, workers, whether in supermarkets, on farms or delivering milk, are the losers.

Rob & Glenda’s visit to Broken Hill

Glenda and I visited Broken Hill in October 2019.

Stained glass window in the Trades Hall building.

In January 2015, the City of Broken Hill was included on the National Heritage Register. Broken Hill has a very strong Union history and has the only union-owned newspaper in the country, the Barrier Daily Truth. As from last year it ceased to be issued daily and is now weekly. It has been going for over 100 years. Many issues published between 1941 and 1954 have been digitised as part of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program.

If you belonged to a union, the paper was tossed over your front fence every morning. If there were five unionists in the household, five papers landed in the front yard.

The history of Broken Hill was marked with bitter and protracted strikes, particularly in 1892, 1909 and 1919, and this building was the focal point of these strikes. The 1919 strike lasted 18 months and led to the 35-hour week for miners and improved health and safety conditions.

Broken Hill Trades Hall – built between 1898 and 1904

Trades Hall logo

After 125 years of mining a 300 million tonne mineral system, the 7.5km long, 1.6km deep Line of Lode still supports mining, making Broken Hill one of the longest continual mining towns in the world.

The cemetery provides a valuable record of the diversity of Broken Hill’s early mining community.

Keep the red flag flying here. Workers of the world, Unite.

Continue reading

International Workers’ Memorial Day

“Mourn the dead: Fight like hell for the living.”

Four Vintage Reds attended the 28 April 2021 International Day of Mourning ceremony at 9 a.m. at the National Workers Memorial in King’s Park near the Carillon.

The gathering of around one hundred included members of the CFMEU, CPSU and the ETU. 178 white crosses were laid out below the Memorial to commemorate the 178 workers killed in the course of their work across the nation in the past year. Mick Gentleman read his speech from his smart phone. Most of the speeches mentioned friends or family who had not returned home from work due to a workplace fatality. The theme this year was “Mourn the dead: Fight like hell for the living”.

The ceremony concluded with a minute’s silence.

Rob P.

Photo: Rob P & Glenda J

Palm Sunday refugee rally 2021

Australia is holding about a hundred Medevaced refugees in hotels, and there are hundreds more people offshore in PNG and Nauru, caught in unimaginable limbo. Earlier in the month a vigil was held in Garema Place for the Murugappan family from Biloela, who have now been in detention on Christmas Island for over three years. Their many supporters in Biloela continue to call for their release.

The theme of this year’s Palm Sunday rally organised by the Refugee Action Campaign of Canberra was “Resist Cruelty“.

Union groups, religious groups, political parties were all represented. Speakers including former Canberra Times Editor Jack Waterford and Anglican Rev. Roberta Hamilton spoke to the crowd, which then marched out of Garema Place and around the centre of town.

Vintage Reds marched with the banner to show support.