Today Queensland celebrates a century of achievement built through nation-leading industrial legislation.
On 22 May 100 years ago Queenslanders elected the reformist TJ Ryan Labor government which introduced laws that remain central to modern working life.
Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams and TJ Ryan Foundation Chief Executive Emeritus Professor Roger Scott will mark this significant anniversary with the launch of a combined union submission to a Parliamentary committee investigating the Industrial Relations (Restoring Fairness) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015.
“It’s appropriate that the QCU launches its submission on the IR (Restoring Fairness) legislation occurs on the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest reforming Labor governments in Queensland’s history,” he said.
The legislation reverses the changes made by the LNP which outlawed agreements on employment security, protections against contracting out, and union encouragement.
“It also re-establishes the independence of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission,” he said.
The TJ Ryan Government – elected in 1915 as the first majority Australian Labor Party government of Queensland – introduced reforms to labour and workplace safety laws and agricultural policy.
It sparked an era of industrial legislation and state enterprise. Among the measures passed were the industrial arbitration act, the workers' compensation act, health and safety legislation, and the right for women to be elected to Parliament.
“Tragically TJ Ryan died a relatively young man but his government’s legacy endures,” Mr Battams said.
“Queensland unions admire the notion of industrial fairness inherent in Ryan’s legislation.”
The achievements of Thomas Joseph Ryan (1876-1921) shone a guiding light for future leaders of progressive political organisations in Australia.
His energies were devoted to improving the lives of those less advantaged in society, including but not confined to the working class and supporters of the labour movement.
His legacy endures through the annual presentation of TJ Ryan medals to Queensland secondary school students who demonstrate outstanding leadership.
The federal electorate of Ryan is also named for him.