From receiving a bomb threat to his electoral office to having his funeral notice posted to his office door, former Eden-Monaro MP Jim Snow’s push for progress wasn’t always an easy one.
In his new book Keating and his Party Room, the now 83-year-old former caucus chair offers a rare insight into the inner workings of the Keating government, and delves into his perspective on issues including Indigenous rights, the environment, privatisation and drug laws.
I had a family sense of human justice bred into me.Former MP Jim Snow
In his role as chair, he has the unique position of being able to release minutes from cabinet meetings.
“Some of the decisions were quite significant, particularly on Native Title,” Mr Snow said.
“People did have land and it was taken from them, and the High Court ruled something had to happen about it, so what the government did was introduce legislation.
“Another significant issue was the environment, we had the big timber industry debate, and we also had Accord Mark 8, which was really an agreement between unions, employers and government which was very significant.
“Since the accord has declined under the Howard and subsequent governments, employees wages have dropped and now everyone from business leaders and government itself are complaining.
“I blame the fact that there is no real accord between government and union.”
A former pharmacist, The Labor Party life member was elected to federal politics in 1983, representing the electorate for 13 years before the Labor’s loss in 1996.
“I didn’t realise that wages would slip back in real terms, and it’s particularly the case in country areas,” he said.
“That to me is partly because of the fact there is no accord, and also a decline in union membership.
“I was recently at a rally for seafarers in Port Kembla and there was 23 ships, and not one had an Australian crew member on them.”
Mr Snow was drawn to politics via his passion for workers rights.
“I had a family sense of human justice bred into me,” he said.
Still active in politics, he feels country residents could be better heard in Canberra debates.
He said Senate reform and strong local government will allow regional and rural areas more of a say in the Australian democratic process.
- Jim Snow will launch his new book Keating and his Party Room at Candelo Books in Bega on Thursday, November 9 at 5pm.