It is with immense sadness that the Electrical Trades Union Qld NT advises the passing of Peter Simpson ‘Simmo’ following a long battle with Melonoma. Simmo was a giant of the labour movement and former Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union Qld and NT branch.
Simmo, 57 will be remembered as a legend within the demanding world of unions and left-wing politics. During his eight years as ETU Secretary from 2009-2016, Simmo campaigned fiercely for decent wages and better conditions for all ETU members, their families and their communities.
To many he will be remembered for his enormous leadership and strategic brilliance spearheading the Not4Sale campaigns, described by many as some of Australia’s most successful union-led community campaigns. The campaigns galvanized support from Darwin to Coolangatta to protect public ownership of revenue-generating state assets, in doing so he and the ETU took on politicians from all sides. The campaign played a huge role in three elections between 2012 and 2016.
He was a fighter for working people into his final days, campaigning for fair cancer funding and the right for people to die with dignity, his heartfelt campaign for Voluntary Assisted Dying included an emotional video.
ETU State Secretary Peter Ong said Simmo would be remembered for his commitment to the value of a fair go, and his enormous contribution for workers over several decades.
“Simmo stood up for our members and all Queenslanders and their future when he campaigned against privatisation of public assets, he was a warrior for the working class and will be greatly missed by our union family.” he said.
ETU State Assistant Secretary Stuart Traill said Simmo would be remembered for his unyielding commitment to leave the place better than he found it.
“Simmo was never afraid to stand up and be counted on issues some see as not union business, he campaigned hard against the nuclear industry, he was a champion for Indigenous rights and despised discrimination and warned against the rise of white supremacy. He was a comrade and a friend.”
Brought up in the New South Wales country town of Harden, Simmo began his union journey as a seventeen-year-old apprentice trainee linesman with the South West County Council in Young NSW. Following stints in Canberra he finally moved to Queensland taking up a position as an overhead linesman at SEQEB Stafford in 1991 and later moving to SEQEB Beenleigh in 1992.
After 17 years as a rank and file ETU member including five as a shop steward helping rebuild the union after the SEQEB dispute, Simmo rose to the position of state organiser on 10th March 1997. Seven years later he was elected Assistant State Secretary under Dick Williams and on the 9thMay 2009 he took over as State Secretary, a position he held until June 2016 when he announced his resignation due to being diagnosed with terminal melanoma.
Peter Simpson was one of the greats, not only of our union but of the union movement.
Simmo is survived by his mother, his wife Penny, their children, and grand-children.