Darryl Noack

Interviewed by
Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan
Jun 18 2013
Darryl Noack, 2013
Time Summary Keywords

Darryl Noack describes his early life in rural Bohle River in Townsville, Queensland. He reflects on his education and his upbringing by conservative parents.


Darryl Noack discusses his entry to the workforce in 1971 as a factory hand.

work experience

Darryl Noack speaks about his first exposure to trade unionism. He describes the place of the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia (FIA) in his workplaces in the 1970s and the effects of compulsory unionism. He mentions his involvement as a continous member of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) for the last 34 years.

AWU, compulsory unionism, FIA

Darryl Noack discusses the impact of union official Fred Thompson, organiser of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, on his early life and trade union career.

FIA, Fred Thompson, union positions

Darryl Noack explains how he first became a shop steward in 1973. He describes the duties involved with the position and claims he was appointed to the position almost by default.

FIA, union positions

Darryl Noack comments on the difficulties involved in his early role as a shop steward, ranging from his young age, inexperience, and the limited presence of FIA organisers from Brisbane and the absence of paid FIA organisers in North Queensland. He discusses the opening of a union sub branch in Townsville, led by secretary Harry Peebles, and how this impacted on the quality of unionism in his workplace, as well as the assistance of Fred Thompson.

FIA, Fred Thompson, Harry Peebles, North Queensland, Townsville, union positions

Darryl Noack discusses how he juggled his career and union roles as an FIA shop steward from 1973 to 1978 and delegate in 1979. He describes how he first joined the Australian Workers Union (AWU) whilst working as a rigger in a coal washing plant in Collinsville, Queensland, in 1979, and how he has remained with the union.

AWU, coal, Collinsville, FIA, union positions

Darryl Noack speaks about how he became a full time AWU organiser in 1993, beginning with his move to Cairns for work in 1984 and appointment as an AWU representative in 1988.

AWU, Cairns, union positions

Darryl Noack comments on the state of the AWU in Cairns, as well as the impact of District Secretary Ted Brisky, who Noack took over from in 2008.

AWU, Cairns, Ted Brisky

Darryl Noack describes the differences between being an organiser and a District Secretary, commenting on the responsibilities of the two roles and the place of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission in resolving disputes.

AWU, union positions

Darryl Noack speaks about the unique issues involved with working in North Queensland, concluding that the challenges concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) are the most significant. He describes some of the difficulties facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as well as the AWU's influence in the career restructuring for ATSI Health Workers from 1994 to 1995. He also discusses the role of current District Secretary Stephen Christian.

AWU, Cairns, health workers, Indigenous issues, North Queensland, Stephen Christian

Darryl Noack comments on some of the major reforms that the AWU fought for in regards to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, including the industrial disputes that led to further career structuring from 1995 to 1997 and the latest career restructure in 2007. He also mentions the impact of the commission for Queensland Health.

AWU, Health Department, health workers, Indigenous issues, industrial disputes

Darryl Noack describes the high level of coverage of Indigenous workers for the AWU, stating that it was the result of the Union's efforts. He comments on the difficulties facing the Indigenous Council, including the lack of funding and inability to pay higher and fairer rates of pay. He describes the role of the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and the AWU in assisting politically and lobbying the state governments.

AWU, CDEP, Indigenous issues

Darryl Noack discusses the high level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership of the AWU. He credits former District Secretary Ted Brisky as implementing reforms that increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander membership. He comments on the difficulties faced by the Indigenous Councils, including their reliance on State and Federal funding due to their own lack of a rate base.

AWU, Indigenous issues, Ted Brisky, union membership

Darryl Noack comments on the high union involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, heralding Stephen Christian as the first Indigenous organiser. He remarks upon the AWU as having a long, proud record of fighting for Indigenous rights.

AWU, Indigenous issues, Stephen Christian, union membership, union positions

Darryl Noack comments on the CRA dispute involving Rio Tinto in 1993, one of his first industrial disputes upon his appointment as District Secretary. He discusses the discrepancies between collective bargaining and individual contracts and Rio Tinto's corporate policy against third parties. He recounts his personal involvement in the Weipa region.

AWU, collective bargaining, CRA dispute, industrial disputes, Rio Tinto, Weipa

Darryl Noack discusses the processes by which Rio Tinto attempted to quell any industrial conflict in Weipa, including offering financial enticements to workers. He comments on the early strong union ethos of the town, where the presence of the AWU, the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) was initially strong, as well as the detrimental effects of Rio Tinto's bargaining efforts.

AWU, CRA dispute, ETU, Rio Tinto, Weipa

Darryl Noack comments on the support that the unions had federally due to the Labor Government. He recounts the tension in Weipa as well as a protest stunt supported by the Maritime Union of Australia.

AWU, Bob Hawke, CRA dispute, ETU, MUA, Rio Tinto, Weipa

Darryl Noack discusses the final arbitration in the Weipa dispute, describing how the unions and the Federal Commission contributed to the outcome. He comments on what he perceived to be unfair contracts.

AWU, CRA dispute, industrial disputes, Rio Tinto, Weipa

Darryl Noack recounts the experiences of a crane driver during the Weipa dispute who refused to participate with the contract.

CRA dispute, industrial disputes, Rio Tinto, Weipa

Darryl Noack comments on situations similar to the Weipa experience across Queensland. He comments on the globalised corporate philosophy that led to the experience, as well as the subsequent histories written on the event.

CFMEU, CRA dispute, Rio Tinto

Darryl Noack talks of the significance of the Weipa experience, describing it as the first major setback against trade unions. He contrasts it with the later Workplace Relations Act and Work Choices policies.

CRA dispute, declining union membership, industrial disputes, Rio Tinto, Weipa, Work Choices, Workplace Relations legislation

Darryl Noack describes the state of the AWU today, including the increasing membership in Bell Bay Smelter in Tasmania. He comments on the uncertainty of trade unions linked to potential changes in government.

Bell Bay, union membership

Darryl Noack speaks about the low level of union membership in Weipa today. He contrasts this with Bell Bay, describing why he believes the town to have a stronger union presence.

Bell Bay, declining union membership, Rio Tinto, union membership, Weipa

Darryl Noack comments on the reasons behind the decreasing membership of unions and the role of collective bargaining and unity.

collective bargaining, declining union membership, Howard Government 1996-2007

Darryl Noack discusses the issues surrounding demarcation in Queensland, recounting his own experiences as a rigger.

BLF, CFMEU, demarcation disputes

Darryl Noack explains a personal experience involving demarcation when working as a rigger in a Goonyella coal washing plant during the early 1980s shutdown. He contrasts this experience with the lack of demarcation issues today.

demarcation disputes, Goonyella

Darryl Noack discusses some of the union campaigns that he has been involved with, including the political 'Your Rights At Work' campaign and the successful union-led campaign to reinstate 'Journey Claims' after the Borbidge government abolished them in 1996. He comments on the lack of environmental campaigns.

Borbidge Government 1996-98, environment issues, Journey Claims, union campaigns, Workers Compensation legislation, Your Rights at Work

Darryl Noack comments on his involvement in the 'Your Rights At Work' campaign, as well as the experiences of some people who were adversely affected by the Howard Government changes.

Howard Government 1996-2007, Your Rights at Work

Darryl Noack discusses the connection between the power of those in political office and the laws that affect workers lives, as well as the limitations placed on unions by the Howard Government.

Howard Government 1996-2007, Industrial Relations

Darryl Noack discusses how the Newman Government's changes to the Industrial Relations Act have impacted on workers. He comments on the historic role of the Labor Party in assisting workers.

Industrial Relations, Newman Government 2012-

Darryl Noack expresses his personal political views, including his membership in the Labor Party.


Darryl Noack discusses the influence of AWU Secretary Bill Ludwig within the union movement.

AWU, Bill Ludwig

Interview ends