Trades Hall: they closed it down …

they shut it down
they closed it down
they shut it down
they pulled it downStreets of your town
            The Go Betweens

In 1919 and 1921 respectively land in Edward Street was given to trustees for the erection of the ‘old’ Brisbane trades and labour hall, and for no other purpose whatsoever.

This interview relates an expose of LNP and Labor Party conflict of interest in new Planning and Development Bill 2014. Interview with resident of Kurilpa and Jonathan Sri – Greens candidate in Kurilpa.

A re-zoning program by the Queensland government is running apace in Kurilpa. Allegations were made yesterday by a resident of South Brisbane that the LNP stands to gain financially if the Planning and Development Bill 2014 gets through the parliament. No prizes for guessing this bill is to make it easier for the developers to make big profits in the South Brisbane area under the Kurilpa Plan. And who gave the biggest bucks (over $7M in 2009 alone) to Labor Holdings***, none other than “The Millionaire Factory”, Macquarie Bank, home of property investment, high margins and profits for its executives.

Lets look at one building in particular – the Trades and Labour Council building at 16 Peel Street South Brisbane. What was it worth prior to the Brisbane City Council’s Kurilpa plan?

Suposing it’s worth $5M now. And this 5 storey building can be re-zoned under the Kurilpa plan as a 30 storey building. Well a simple calculation, you’d think – it may be worth at least $30M if building approval were given under the government’s plan.

Breach of trust
Who stands to benefit? Not the workers, surely? Well no, because the land at 16 Peel Street is held as a deed-of-grant-in-trust, so it is state government land. How did the Trades & Labor Council get workers into this pickle? Well they swapped the site where the IBM building is now in Edward Street (see the picture of the old Trades Hall during the Railway Strike in 1948).

Well who were the trustees of the trust when the government swapped the lucrative Edward Street Trades Hall for the one at Peel Street, South Brisbane? None other than the leaders of the ALP affiliated unions in Trades Hall: Thomas Stephen Barton[*], Harry Hauenschild (AMWU), Neal David Kane (ETU) and Frederick William Whitby (Secretary TLC).  The key fact to remember is that each of these trustees were active office bearers of the ALP and were making decisions about Labor party properties and developments (Labor Holdings). So that part of the Labor Party outside the old right-wing shearers union (AWU) set up shop on the first floor of 16 Peel Street, South Brisbane.

This deal was struck in the middle of the SEQEB dispute when over 1,000 workers were sacked by Bjelke-Petersen. At the same time (n March 1985 ) Neal Kane (ETU) was telling SEQEB workers that they were done – that the fight for their jobs was over and to give up. The workers who had shut out the lights on Queensland in response to their mass sacking in February 1985 did not believe their own ALP union leadership. They fought on, only to be defeated 10 months later after suicides, industrial deaths, mass arrests, heartache and despair for families. Plus a list of 13 who would never get a job with SEQEB ever again.

Arms are twistedfavours are called in
But the deal to take down workers and their organisations was cut despite the conditions imposed by the . The ‘old’ Trades Hall was sold to the big end of town. By the year 2000 the site was selling for $25M when only two years previously it changed hands for $2.3M (the building was worth $2.2M when the old Trades Hall was sold up). Such is the power of re-zoning for greater number of storeys. It is currently in the hands the US transnational IBM. And don’t forget that all Development Approvals (DAs) come from City Hall, the largest local government in Australia with 26 wards and 27 councillor positions, thousands of employees and 20 executives earning more that $200K and a budget of more than $2 billion.

When they closed down the old Trades Hall,
Drew Hutton (Greens) and I stood outside
the building protesting the sale ... 
and you know the thing that upset me the 
It was the lack of support we got from 
people (who should care)! 
                    - Helen Abrahams, 
                       ALP councillor 
                       for Wooloongabba

Interview with town planner, Phil Heywood, about the lack of transparency in the development plans of the LNP government.

ALP Holdings
The ALP owned a radio licence 4KQ and had a building at Breakfast Creek. The money from the sale of radio station (ALP Holdings) was kept out of the hands of the politicians. Ian Brusaco** (BCC councillor for Lutwyche) and Clem Jones (BCC Lord Mayor) were the businessmen that had a lot of interest in how the ALP’s money was spent. No matter how ‘brilliant’ the ALP businessmen may have been they still managed to place union members assets in the hands of state governments who are only too willing to sell those assets to developers. And who gets the profits? The State and the big end of town. The Labor Party made a lot of money out of 4KQ but never used it as a propaganda arms preferring to own the station as an investment. Business people – Jacobsen’s, Skase and Keith Lloyd – wanted to buy 4KQ. Eventually in 1986, Ian Brusasco and Peter Beattie sold it and made $16 million on the deal. Labor Holdings then had shares in the company (WestCo) that bought the station. Keith D’Arcy and the Left didn’t want to sell. Brusasco wanted to sell the shares. Next year the stock market crashed. But in the words of Brusasco the Labor party was cashed up, it had sold the building as well. The Trades & Labor council made the move and Labor Holdings bought one of the floors in building. Brusasco made these decisions without going to the board of Labor Holdings Pty Ltd and Peter Beattie wrote retrospective minutes.

LNP Conflict of Interest
And let us not forget the property owned by the Liberal National Party of Queensland of 37 Merivale Street, at South Brisbane (Headquarters). The new Planning Bill 2014 claims transparency. Well try to find out the unimproved value of LNP HQ before and after the passage of the Bill. I wish readers luck.

Nevertheless we do know that the re-zoning takes the property above 30 stories. Could the ABC series Utopia have painted a more ironic tale of hypocrisy and corruption down at LNP HQ?

Bob Stitch’s satirical Nation Building Authority in the TV series Utopia becomes Campbell Newman’s “An Act to facilitate Queensland’s prosperity by providing for an efficient, effective, transparent, integrated and accountable system of land use planning and development assessment”

The ‘development of underdevelopment’
From Brisbane Expo 1988 this area of land at South Brisbane has been the focus of Queensland Development to the detriment of regional Queensland which, since that time, as been in economic decline. After the sale of public assets like Qld Rail and shire amalgamations (both by the ALP) regional towns have lost jobs and business. The current drought is doing the rest. But more than this, since 1988 the development of Kurilpa has been designed to drive the working class and poor people out of Kurilpa … out into the outer suburbs where public transport is expensive and where jobs are harder to find. Logan City, ain’t it pretty … said Kev Carmody.

The orientation of the new Kurilpa is toward the middle classes with trendy cafes and restaurants making the place full of visitors who do not live there. The result has been the breaking down of a once resilient and diverse community, full of life, if not rebellion. This new turn of events is another reason why the failure of AHIMSA house is so galling – such a loss for the aboriginal community (Link Up offered market value for the property) and for the Left … given that it was purchased for a modest $780K in 2003 and sold for a pathetic $970K in 2011 because the bid by Link Up (Sam Watson) was blocked by the Public Trustee and the receiver, Norton Rose.

And all this, just prior to a large valuation upwards because the Kurilpa Plan has raised the roof. In retrospect a terrible loss, and hard to imagine how to recover what might have been. Especially hard to forgive the ‘mayor’ of West End for squandering this opportunity for the West End community given his corrupt dealings with liars and thieves. So what to do about the rats in the ranks … e vigilant and out them early … as soon as they begin the smoozing. There should be enough good people around to do that, aye?

Ian Curr
Paradigm Shift
(4ZZZ fm 102.1 fridays at noon)
Dec 2014

[*] The same Tom Barton (Printing and Kindred Industries Union (PKIU) who announced that the proposed state conference of the ALP was postponed because of federal intervention by the national executive of the ALP in 1980. A matter that became the subject of litigation between Tom Burton and Dennis Murphy (vice-president ALP). Tom Barton later became Minister for Employment, Training and Industrial Relations and Minister for Sport in the Goss ALP government.

has written to the federal Minister for Workplace Relations.

[**] Ian Brusasco has been appointed as Director or Chairman of many organisations including: Foodbank (Qld) Ltd, Workcover Queensland, Port of Brisbane, Keep Australia Beautiful Council, Queensland Investment Corporation, Gladstone Port Corporation Ltd, Brisbane Strikers, TAB, and 4KQ.


Unimproved Land Value
RPD: 16 Peel Street South Brisbane. L29 B118214 & L41 RP220037 & L9 RP89153:PAR SOUTH BRISBANE
Unimproved Value: $5,000,000
Date: 30/06/2014
Secondary Land Use: NONE

Australia Post has sold out its South Brisbane Mail Service delivery centre at 140-142 Montague Road,  South Brisbane thus succumbing to the developer’s dollar over servicing the local community.

Brisbane Trades Hall Management Act 1984
Planning and Development Bill 2014
Sale of 4KQ

2 thoughts on “Trades Hall: they closed it down …

  1. Cabinet decision to sell in 1984 says:

    From Cabinet minutes 1984 released in 2014

    The sale of the old Trades Hall – the headquarters of the Trades and Labour Council (TLC) – and the construction of a new building in Ann Street, between the Peoples’ Palace and Salvation Army buildings, was approved in January (Dec. 42219).
    However, in November a shift to a South Brisbane site was discussed and authorised (Dec. 44769). The entered into an agreement with developers to exchange the Trades Hall site for a new building at 173 Ann St, between the Peoples Palace and Salvation Army buildings.
    The developers, who proposed to replace the old building with an office complex, medical rooms or a tourism complex, were limited by height restrictions.
    Eventually the IBM Centre was constructed on the site.
    The TLC later changed their minds about Ann St and instead moved to Peel St.
    Their new offices were named the TLC Centre rather than Trades Hall.
    — from “Selected highlights 1984 Cabinet Minutes Queensland State Archives”

  2. SEQEB Rally 1985 says:
    The sleep of reason is the birth of monsters
    El sueño de la razón produce monstruos
                 - Francisco Goya, 1797

    After the ALP leader Nev Warbuton turned the lights back on the sacked SEQEB workers continued to struggle at pickets, at rallies and in the street.

    A Trade Union Support Group was formed and here is one of its speakers, Dan O’Neill, at a combined union rally in Roma Street Forum on 11 April 1985 discussing the state of Queensland and a way forward.
    Poster: Phil Perrier
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