Joe de Bruyn

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Joe de Bruyn (born 1949), is an Australian trade union official. He is National Secretary and Treasurer of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), a Vice-President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and a member of the National Executive of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

De Bruyn has led the SDA since 1978.[1]

Early life[edit]

De Bruyn was born in the Netherlands in 1949 and is married with four children. He lives in Melbourne, Victoria.

Political career[edit]

Australian trade union movement and ALP[edit]

As the national head of the SDA, de Bruyn has considerable influence in Australian trade union and political affairs. This is particularly so in the ALP as delegations to the various State and Territory bodies that control party policy and pre-selections for State and Federal Parliaments are decided on a pro-rata basis of union members affiliated to the party.

De Bruyn strongly supported the ACTU's 'Rights at Work' campaign against the Howard Government’s industrial relations laws passed in 2005. The union is a significant contributor to ALP election campaigns, according to Australian Electoral Commission funding disclosure returns.

Catholic conservative[edit]

The SDA is associated with the right-wing, "Labor Unity" or "Centre-Unity" grouping or faction of the trade union movement in Australia and the Australian Labor Party. It also has a long-established reputation as a staunch supporter of conservative Catholic parliamentarians.[2] De Bruyn, himself a Catholic, is a leading figure in the right wing faction of the ACTU and the ALP[3] De Bruyn has come under scrutiny for voicing his conservative views while being secretary of a trade union and holding a position on the National Executive of the centre-left Australian Labor Party.[4] He has repeatedly voiced opposition to abortion, and to legalising same sex marriage.[5] At a quarterly SDA members meeting in February 2011, de Bruyn moved a resolution against gay marriage, without giving any members a chance to speak or vote on the issue. This led to the first instance of members of the SDA speaking out and challenging de Bruyn on his stance on gay marriage. 83 SDA member signatures in support of gay marriage were presented to the SDA Queensland branch quarterly meeting, shop steward Duncan Hart said SDA national secretary de Bruyn’s staunch opposition to gay marriage did not reflect the feelings of its members.[6] Former ALP Prime Minister Gough Whitlam once said "Joe de Bruyn is a Dutchman who hates dykes." [7]


  1. ^ Knott, Matthew (29 May 2012). "Union Heavies - Joe de Bruyn". The Power Index. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Grattan, Michelle (20 March 2011). "Look right, look left as faction action gathers pace". The Age. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Bush, Polly (30 July 2004). "Another Let's-Attack-A-Minority-Group-Wheel of Fortune, by John Howard". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Davis, Mark (28 April 2007). "Labor backs legal rights for same-sex couples". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Rodgers, Emma (19 November 2010). "Union boss savages Gillard on gay marriage". ABC News. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Noonan, Andie (17 February 2011). "Union marriage pressure". Star Observer. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Norington, Brad (27 October 2003). "Rubbing shoulders with royalty - ALP royalty". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 August 2013.