Yarrawonga’s Alan Williams has been awarded a Life Membership of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Victorian Branch.
Alan was presented with this award at the State Conference held at the Moonee Valley Racecourse on Saturday, May 20 by Premier Daniel Andrews and Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Alan was the endorsed Labor candidate for Murray in the last federal election.
Speaking with the Yarrawonga Chronicle last week, Alan said he didn’t know a thing about it until an email was sent to him from the ALP state branch earlier this month.
“It was a great surprise and a huge honour,” he said.
“There were so many Labor dignitaries present and both Daniel Andrews and Bill Shorten spoke at the conference and were very inspiring.”
Alan is the current secretary of the Yarrawonga Branch of the ALP and his time in the Labor Movement began with his active membership of the Victorian Teachers’ Union in 1963; in 1970 he joined the Croydon Branch of the party.
Between 1970 and 1973 he was involved in the Melbourne Moratorium March, the Federal Intervention into the Victorian Branch, the Murray by-election, the famous Federal Election of 1972 that saw the Whitlam Government elected, the Victorian ALP Country Policy Committee and standing as a candidate for the party in the now defunct seat of Rodney.
“The Moratorium experience was exciting because of the feeling that participation would result in a cruel war ending and frightening because of the jeering and threats hurled at you as the procession moved its way to the corner of Bourke and Swanson Streets,” Alan said.
“Electioneering in a strong Country Party electorate meant stones thrown through my house’s windows, tyres slashed outside meeting halls, robust discussions with voters down the main streets of Echuca, being corrected by John Gorton when I mispronounced a heckle at Shepparton Town Hall and lots of letterboxing and handing out ‘how to votes’.”
In 1974 Alan joined the Commonwealth Teaching Service and was engaged as a teacher in the newly formed ACT Education Authority.
“I was a foundation member of the ACT Primary Teachers’ Association, and a councillor in the ACT Teachers’ Federation Council,” he said.
“In 1974 I was admitted to the ACT Weston Creek Branch of the ALP.
“The tumultuous 1975 year elicited in me the fear that Australian democracy was under attack and I, along with many others, stood at the steps of the old parliament house to listen to Gough Whitlam voice his protest at what had been done.
“I then went with others to protest at the gates of the Governor General’s residence in Yarralumla.”
After a year’s teaching in Somerset, England in 1976 Alan returned to Canberra and secured a position at Holy Rosary, Heathcote, Victoria.
“During a dinner table discussion with a senior member of the Catholic Education Office of Victoria, I formed the view that the Victorian Primary Teachers’ Association needed to become a union with a protective industrial award,” he said.
with some other comrades, travelled Victoria from 1982 until 1984 recruiting, often after work and frequently during weekends.
“We were successful in building a strong base and along with the then Catholic Secondary Teachers’ Association, the Victorian Catholic Primary Teachers’ Association was granted state awards by the then Industrial Commission of Victoria.
“Over time the state based non-government unions formed the Independent Teachers’ Union and I was made a life member of the VIEU in 1996.”
From 1996 until 2014 Alan was a member of the NSW Branch of the party in Engadine and Armidale and during his time in NSW he was president and secretary at branch level as well as treasurer at ranch, FEC and SEC levels.
“I have been a member of the Yarrawonga Branch since 2015, served as Branch Secretary since 2016 and I was asked to stand for the seat of Murray at the 2016 Federal election,” he said.
“I take this opportunity to thank my wife of 49 years, Dorothy, for her support and being a willing partner in my ALP activity, my family for their support especially during elections and the many friends I have made along the way.”