8 May 2018, House of Representatives
Watch Matt's Speech
Mr KEOGH(Burt) (13:51): Sadly, a giant of the labour movement passed away last week after a long battle with cancer. Tony Cooke was born into a tough life and, by sheer will and determination, he made the world a better place for working people and all Western Australians alike. Tony was one of WA's most recognisable faces during his time as the Secretary of the Trades and Labor Council, now known as UnionsWA. Tony studied social work at university with my mum to improve his capacity to help the most vulnerable, who were always at the forefront of his mind.
Tony always stood up for what was right. As the leader of the WA union movement, Tony stood in solidarity with maritime workers during the Patrick dispute 20 years ago this year. He also led the biggest march on Parliament House in WA's history, where 35,000 people spoke out against the Court government's antiworker third wave IR reforms, which were eventually defeated and repealed. This campaign led to the establishment of Solidarity Park and the workers memorial at the WA parliament, on the site of the Workers Embassy and the now infamous workers ball, which I attended with my family back in 1997.
I and so many others, as evidenced by the throng of attendees at his funeral on Thursday, will remember Tony as a giant of the labour movement with a brilliant strategic brain, never forgetting why he was there: looking after the working people of WA. I send my best wishes to the family he leaves behind. We will seek, as you said, Tony, to live good lives. Vale Tony Cooke.