Lee Rhiannon and Kiama Greens celebrate Ken O’Hara’s years of social activism

Click to read Senator Lee Rhiannon’s tribute to the work of Ken O’Hara

KEN O’HARA – a life of committment for our world

by Senator Lee Rhiannon

My earliest memory of Ken is in the late 1960s. The Vietnam War was raging. Ken was one of literally a handful of people showing their public opposition. I remember Ken giving out leaflets and pamphlets that explained why Australia should not have troops in Vietnam. He would frequently be collecting names on a petition. I was then in a group of high school students organising against the war.

Looking back on those years Ken’s style of work taught our little group of young studnets a great deal about political engagement.

His involvement then is similar to what characterises his work today. A commitment to making the world a fairer, more just place for all. And he does that in a most hard working way. His approach to the many causes he has supported over the decades is that he must do his bit to inform and organise. Ken’s belief in people has been inspiring.

For Ken democracy is about people having a say in their own lives and the society they live in. He sees this as the key to achieving the fairer society that he believes in so passionately.

Ken was an active unionist working for decent pay and on the job conditions. His union work was not just industrial. In the 1970s and 1980s unions took up political campaigns from opposition to South African Apartheid, women’s rights and for world peace and nuclear disarmament. Ken’s organising skills have launched many campaigns.

Ken’s respect and love for the environment has been a major part of his work in more recent years. On the south coast he has become known as a most passionate advocate against the coal seam gas industry. Like all the causes he has supported Ken studies the issue, identifies the corporate and government forces that are abusing their power and puts forward solutions.

Through his organisation, Networking for Real Democracy, Against War & Unemployment, Ken distributed valuable research and campaign material to colleagues across the country and wrote numerous letters to newspapers and newsletters.

Ken is an old family friend. I value his friendship and his political organising.

People’s actions make this world a better place. While many of the great causes Ken has been associated with at first have often been rejected by  mainstream society and ridiculed by some individuals in time Ken and his colleagues win through.

In time the movement against the Vietnam War went from a handful to the majority of Australians. Thanks to people like Ken the movement against CSG is achieving similar support and recognition.

Ken is one of those dedicated organisers who makes a difference.

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