Peter Carter, 1957-2018

Red Flag was saddened to hear of the recent death of Peter Carter, a long-time socialist and a regular contributor to our publication. We asked two of Peter’s comrades to write a few lines in his memory.

It was very sad news to hear of the death, after many years of ill health, of the long term socialist activist Peter Carter.

Peter was a dedicated and determined working class militant. I first met him more than 30 years ago, back in the 1980s, when I helped recruit him to the International Socialists.

Peter was a delegate for the Federated Clerks Union (FCU), now part of the Australian Services Union, at the TAB telephone betting centre in the Melbourne suburb of Albert Park. It was a very large workplace at the time, and a vitally important part of the TAB’s operations.

Peter played a key role in building strong shop floor union organisation at the centre and was involved in a series of industrial actions that won important improvements in conditions for workers. One of the strikes that Peter was most proud of was the stoppage they held on Melbourne Cup day, which cost the TAB a fortune.

The Clerks Union was still controlled by the remnants of the old right wing grouper machine, which still controls the Shop Assistants Union. Peter had helped turn the TAB phone betting section into a real thorn in the side of the FCU leadership. 

It was to be a very important base, along with the traditionally militant waterfront clerks, in the left wing reform group that eventually defeated the groupers.

In more recent years Peter was active in the Nurses Federation and wrote regularly for Red Flag.

Socialist Alternative sends its condolences to Peter’s family, friends and comrades.

Mick Armstrong, Socialist Alternative National Executive member

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I was shocked and saddened to hear of Peter’s death. We’d sometimes catch up for a coffee on a day off or after his nursing shifts, most recently so I could pick his brains about health policy for the Victorian Socialists. Decades of working class life and struggle, most recently as a nurse and a delegate in the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, gave him a wealth of experience to draw on.

I’ll miss his sense of humour and irreverence. Often enough he’d send me into stitches as he sat back smiling, hands folded across his belly, mercilessly mocking some supervisor who had overstepped the mark. He’d have a quiet pride as he recounted some situation he’d helped to sort out as a union delegate. Peter always had a healthy scepticism of the union hierarchy; he loved to quote one of his former co-delegates at the TAB: “Get ’em out on the grass first, then call the union office”.

A lifelong socialist, Peter knew that working class people deserved the best. He would talk about his workmates and their patients with a real compassion, especially the enormous difference that nurse-patient ratios (won by the nurses union in the Victorian public sector in the 1980s) made to the level of care he could provide compared to working in the private aged care sector. Peter would also glow with a kind of quiet pride whenever he mentioned his daughter Nadia.

As a comrade and friend, and as a workmate, carer and family member, Peter will be sorely missed.

Jerome Small, Socialist Alternative industrial organiser

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Peter Carter’s funeral will be held in Melbourne on Monday 9 July at 2:30pm at Le Pine Funerals, 513 Greensborough Road, Greensborough.