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Issue #1671      February 4, 2015


Ron Barrett – a steadfast comrade

Comrades and friends have farewelled Ronald John Barrett, always known as Ron, who died on 22 January 2015.

Comrade Ron at the celebrations marking 90 years of the communist movement in Australia in 2010.

Comrade Ron was born in London on December 15, 1937. His early years included dodging bombs during the London blitz during WWII. His education resumed after the war and he completed technical school studies in wood machine turning.

He was called up for national service and served some time in Cyprus in the early 1950s. This time left him with a lifelong hatred of the British Army and a conviction to work against war wherever he could. He used to say that all he learnt in the army was how to iron his shirts.

In 1962 he migrated to Australia and he joined the Communist Party of Australia in 1963. Ron was an active, steadfast and loyal member of several Party branches in Sydney’s western suburbs and finally in the Auburn Branch.

Right up to the end Ron remained a loyal and determined comrade. He would turn up to branch and other meetings, functions and demos with a regularity and a determination that was truly admirable. Even though he was not as agile in later years he still managed to overcome all difficulties by driving his beat up car as near as possible to the venue and then making his way at his own speed.

Comrade Ron wrote reminiscences of his time talking in Domain in Sydney”

“I remember the first time I spoke, Bernie was anxious that I might lose the crowd, but I held them on that occasion and he was quite impressed. I soon got used to being called an ‘F… Commo B…’ and told to go back to Russia. I began to speak with more conviction and gained more confidence. Speaking helped me to develop both politically and personally.”

While Ron was working as a wood machinist he was the union representative. On one occasion he wrote an article about an issue in the factory. The article was placed on the notice board by one of the workers. It caused a stir among the workers and the boss gave Ron an extremely hard time. However, he refused to back down.

Comrade Ron worked on Radio Red, a project of the CPA’s Blacktown Branch. A song he loved to play was I get knocked down but I get up again. It describes Ron well for he faced all difficulties head on and he always got up and continued with his service to humanity through his Party work.

Ron was a big man who did not move quickly. He was also shy and did not say much. Many may have underestimated him but he possessed a keen mind and when he did speak out it was well worth listening to.

Occasionally he would be stirred up by some event and would fire off perceptive letters to newspapers, mostly to the Guardian but also to local and major papers.

Tony Oldfield, speaking on behalf of the Party at Comrade Ron’s funeral, described him as an exemplary Party member, a real foot soldier for the cause of communism and the working class.

Comrade Ron will be missed by his comrades but his example will not be forgotten. To honour his memory we must all continue to give all our strength to the greatest cause in the world – the liberation of humanity.

Next article – Noongar Native Title under cloud

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