Life Membership awarded to Dan Hill

Thursday 19 Dec 2019

HSUWA President Cheryl Hamill awarded former Secretary Dan Hill at the AGM 4 December 2019 – below is a transcript of Cheryl’s comments at the meeting

I’m very pleased to join with you to present Dan Hill with life membership of the HSUWA. Dan is now a life member of both the HSUWA and of the WA branch of the national HSU. He was awarded HSU WA Life Membership by the WA Committee of Management on 20th May 2019.

Dan commenced his union career as a Membership Clerk with the Hospital Salaried Officers Association on 28 June 1979 working through the roles of Organiser, Industrial Officer and Assistant Secretary, before being appointed Secretary on 26th July 1993. Dan was one of two inaugural Branch Assistant Secretaries at the formation of the WA Branch of the national union in 1991. Dan has served union members on state and national stages for 40 years, 26 as HSUWA Secretary. His service with HSUWA ended with his well-earned retirement on 26th July 2019.

As with any career, it has not always been plain sailing. There have been challenges to overcome. Disputes over membership coverage with other unions; the Court Government’s sudden decision to refuse to allow membership fee deductions from public sector payrolls was a critical attack on the finances of the HSOA; the problems posed by ‘individual’ workplace agreements and the union’s capacity to continue to represent members; the national HSU scandals (unfortunately shortly after we’d decided to change our name to HSU!); the work required to get the national HSU back on track through legal and financial mine-fields and back into the black; many many battles with enterprise agreements and industrial representation with public and private employers; rebranding the union’s image; renovating the union building in East Perth whilst still a working space and so on.

What is clear though, is that through it all, Dan has stood up for members and delivered. The union continued to grow through the bad times (though recovery from the loss of payroll deductions was extremely challenging). Even as the worst of the news emerged about corruption in the national HSU, members understood that our state-registered union was not afflicted by that corruption and stuck with us – in no small part due to the high regard members had for Dan, his integrity and the transparency of his communications.

Dan has left us financially sound, with a renovated fit for purpose building that we own and with staff who have always followed his clear message on our purpose – to protect and further the interests of members by any lawful means. On the national scene, Dan is also highly regarded. He has served as a National Executive member and National Councillor since 1993. In 2000 he was elected as a National Trustee, a position he held continuously until his election as Senior National Vice President in 2014. In a Benjamin Button move, he finished his national duties as Junior National Vice President.

Dan served as Chairperson of the National Finance Committee from inception and was directly involved in supporting the work undertaken by the then National President Chris Brown in uncovering the extent of the theft by former National Secretary, Craig Thomson and his prosecution in both the Federal Court for breaches of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations Act) and in the County Court of Victoria for theft.

When the criminal activity of then HSU National President and HSU East State Secretary, Michael Williamson was uncovered, Dan along with all Branch Secretary’s demanded Williamson’s resignation. As National Trustee Dan was instrumental in attempts to hold then National Secretary, Kathy Jackson to account from 2008 to 2014. He assisted Chris Brown in pursuing Kathy Jackson through the FWC and the Federal Court.

As both National Trustee and National Senior Vice President, Dan had a leading role in the governance reform of the union and in the implementation of sound financial management policies and procedures. Lessons learned nationally have resulted in changes to improve the governance of the HSUWA. As you know, I'm the president of the Committee of Management for HSUWA.

I've been a member since 1985 (recruited by Dan), and President since 2005. I've been a member of National Council since 2004. I give that background so that you can see that I’ve worked closely with Dan on state and national issues for around 18 years. Dan has many fine qualities. Foremost amongst these is a deep and abiding commitment to his much-loved wife Anne-Marie, his children, grandchildren and extended family. They’ve been a constant strength in his life and the balance to working in a challenging career.

The qualities I most admire from my years of working with Dan are his steadiness, integrity, measured approach, transparency, quiet determination and commitment to social justice broadly but in particular, in his focus on union values - he has always been guided by the first object of the WA union "To protect and further the interests of its members by any lawful means". Dan has lived these values in state and national union affairs. Please join with me in congratulating Dan on the award of life membership to the HSUWA and in wishing him every happiness and good health.

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