CFMEU Helps Build Opposition to NT Intervention
The CFMEU is backing the Alyawarr community in protest at the Northern Territory intervention.
Throughout February CFMEU members have been labouring with locals under the desert sun to construct a community centre. While the building is much needed near Ampilatwatja, 350 kilometres north-east of Alice, there is a political point being made as well.
The NT intervention was supposed to tackle child abuse and lift living standards. For the Alyawarr all it has meant is losing control of their community and more hassle from Centrelink. Bizarrely, the only money spent in the community under the intervention has been on a bmx bike track!
Last July, elders led a ‘walk-off’ to a camp 4kms up the road, out of reach of the intervention takeover order. There, they are succeeding where the authorities have proved incapable, establishing new buildings and infrastructure.
CFMEU Apprentices Organiser Liam O’Hearn spent a week setting out and pouring the concrete slab and says building isn’t easy in conditions where it feels like you’re breathing hot cotton wool, but they got there.
“The first setback was learning the concrete truck we were going to use had rolled and couldn’t be used.”
“Two blokes headed back to Alice to get a couple of mixers, and rolled their truck on the way back. The roads aren’t real good out there.”
The local lads were delighted to have a construction team in town and impressed Liam with their industry and thirst to learn. Together with the unionists and other volunteers – including three German backpackers – they managed to solve all challenges as they were thrown up. Water had to be brought in by truck using a 1000 litre tank filled from a fire hose. Then there were the flies.
‘After a few days of not washing they don’t bother you too much,” jokes Liam.
Other unions supporting the initiative are the LHMU, AMWU, MUA and AWU.
- Your Union
- Member Services