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Tributes flow for staunch truckies’ advocate Senator Alex Gallacher

senator gallacher

The transport industry is this week mourning the loss of one of its staunchest lobbyists, Labor Senator Alex Gallacher, who died on Sunday at the age 67.

As a dedicated TWU official, branch secretary and national president, and later a Senator serving in the nation’s Parliament, the one-time truckie never forgot where he came from, say those who knew him best.

“There’s no smoke and mirrors, just plain talking, hardworking employees and employers alike, in a tough competitive industry that works harder than most people imagine and continues to work while most people are asleep,” Senator Gallacher said of the transport industry in his maiden speech.

It was an attitude he learned as a truckie, and it stayed with him in Parliament, even after his lung cancer diagnosis in December 2019.

“Through his illness he never wanted to stop,” said Ian Smith, a close friend who holds Senator Gallacher’s old role as secretary of the TWU’s SA/NT branch.

“He didn’t go there [to Canberra] to do nothing, he went there to make a difference.

“His beliefs will remain a driving force in our fight for transport workers’ rights. Today we make a promise to Alex, his family and friends to continue to fight on in his honour.”

His passionate advocacy for safety and fairness in transport rang around the Senate, and he did not hold back when calling out the appalling abuse of workers, said the TWU in a statement grieving the loss of “one of its greatest sons”.

“We remember proudly his fervent challenge of the federal government’s silence on baggage handlers forced to sleep at airports between gruelling split shifts at Aerocare.

“Alex was a staunch advocate for transport workers. He fought tirelessly for truck drivers to receive safe rates of pay and conditions, and was no doubt proud to have been part of the Senate’s landmark report into the road transport industry tabled only last week. Alex was dogged in his determination to see improvements to the industry that kept Australia moving.

The union said Gallacher never shied away from a fight, particularly when he saw workers ripped off or mistreated by their employers.

“Even in poor health, Alex supported aviation workers in their fight against their deplorable treatment last year. Alex was a regular attendee at actions outside Parliament House and always welcomed workers into his office with open arms.”

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said transport workers, the TWU and the Parliament have lost a giant.

“Senator Gallacher was a straight-talking, no-nonsense, and hardworking man prepared to speak truth to power to support workers. Alex was someone on whom workers could always rely and was resolute in his belief that no obstacle should prevent working people from achieving their best.

“We are all poorer for having lost Alex.

“We extend our deepest condolences to his widow Paola, children and grandchildren during this difficult time. Our thoughts are with all TWU members and parliamentarians grieving the loss of a close friend and ally.”

Senators Glenn Sterle, left, and Alex Gallacher. Photo: Facebook

WA Senator Glenn Sterle also paid tribute to the Senator on his Facebook page.

“Today I lost a very dear friend and brother in arms.

“A champion for the blue collar worker, Senator Alex Gallacher was always fighting the good fight. Alex was also a champion for common sense and fairness and had one of the sharpest mind’s in Parliament.

“I will miss his insight, his intellect, his nightly lectures in Canberra over a cider or a vino, and most of all, I will miss his friendship.

“Rest In Peace mate, you will be dearly missed.”

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