The Guardian 27 April, 2005


Ron Connolly 1932-2005

Long-time Party and union activist Ron Connolly passed away at home in Port Adelaide on April 13 after a relatively short battle with cancer. The following are excerpts from a eulogy given by Michael Perth, SA State President of the Communist Party of Australia.

“The passing of Ron Connolly is a sad loss for his family and friends. It is also a loss to the labour movement, the Communist Party of Australia and its Port Adelaide Branch.

“Ron’s early working life saw him set out on a tough course. He was a seaman at age 15. He succumbed to the Cold War hysteria of the early 1950s and volunteered for service with the Australian military during the Korean War. However, when he returned to civilian work on the wharves of Port Adelaide he met people with a completely different world outlook, people who looked forward to a world at peace and without exploitation; a socialist world.

“Eventually, the influence of these militant workers in the Waterside Workers Federation led him to join the Communist Party in 1960. Ron threw himself into the work of the Party and was a very visible representative of the CPA. He kept the records of his sales of the Party’s newspaper (The Tribune at the time) right up to the end of his life.

“He was extremely active in his union and served on its executive and eventually became Secretary of the Port Adelaide Branch of the WWF. The respect of his fellow workers saw him remain in office until his retirement in 1992.

Councillor and Alderman

“He served on the Port Adelaide Council as a Councillor then as an Alderman from 1969 to 1978. He rejected the conservative slogan of “keeping politics out of council”, seeing in it a deceit to keep working people from defending their interests. Ron’s politics were no secret. His political opponents once described him as a “self-confessed Communist” in one of the numerous leaflets distributed to attack him.

“On Council he and other Party members pressed successfully for the maintenance of funding for public works in the area. He saw to it that a new system for fixing Council rates was introduced. This meant that working people paid less for the rates on their homes while businesses paid more. This proposition would get ready acceptance today but it was bitterly opposed at the time.

“Under his influence the Council sent an expression of goodwill and hopes for a peaceful future to the members of Moscow’s city Soviet — wishes that were gladly reciprocated. Ron undertook complex and onerous financial management duties on Council. He was appreciated for his considerate attitude to Council staff.

“Ron was continually striving to deepen his ideological knowledge and studied at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism in Moscow in 1976. He was always generous in sharing the lessons of his extensive political and trade union experience, especially with his younger comrades.

Semaphore Club

“He was active in the Semaphore Club during its long transformation from a wealthy gentlemen’s club into a workers’ club at the service of the broader community. The SWC is still stamped with the radical politics of its early members like Ron. He was treasurer of the workers club right up to the end of his life. His attendance record at club meetings was unsurpassed and the respect of other members meant that he was a very influential member of its committee.

“His steady guidance saw the club through some very trying financial times and he always performed a patient mediating role when disagreements surfaced from time to time. In recent years, his work (and the work of other comrades and friends) has resulted in the club enjoying growing success as an entertainment venue and as a focus for political activity.

“Ron was similarly gladdened to see the Port Adelaide Branch of the CPA attracting new younger members, engaging in more political activity and attracting more interest in the socialist program of the Party.

“From the point of view of his comrades in the Port Branch of the CPA, Ron was the sort of staunch, resilient person that safeguarded the Party and its ideological position during very difficult times. He was always ready with an instructive anecdote for the benefit of younger comrades. A no-nonsense manner sometimes masked what was an unfailing comradely and very human concern for other Party members.

“He was a committed comrade, loyal to his convictions and his class to the end even when many of his contemporaries gave up the struggle. That struggle for a socialist future goes on but he will be greatly missed.”

Ron was the dearly loved husband of Jean, father of David, Raymond, Debra and Pamela, father-in-law of Valerie, Lyn, Mark and Terry and grandfather of Mark, Andrew, Hayley, Dillon, Cameron, Karen, John and Rosanna.

The Guardian joins in extending condolences to Jean and to all Ron and Jean’s family.

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