Joe de Bruyn

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

De Bruyn served as the SDA's National Secretary from 1978 to 2014.[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 Labor[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 Labor 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 Labor election campaigns, according to Australian Electoral Commission funding disclosure returns.

Liberal MP and staunch-rightist Eric Abetz is quoted as saying "Joe de Bruyn is a role model of trade union officialdom. He is the type of official that gives trade unionism a good name."[2]

Catholic conservative[edit]

The SDA is associated with the Labor Right, Labor Unity or Centre-Unity grouping or faction of the trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party. It also has a long-established reputation as a supporter of conservative Catholic parliamentarians.[3] De Bruyn, himself a Catholic, is a leading figure in the right wing faction of the trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party.[4] De Bruyn has come under scrutiny for voicing his socially conservative views while being secretary of a trade union and holding a position on the National Executive of Labor, a centre-left political party.[5] He has repeatedly voiced opposition to abortion, and to legalising same sex marriage.[6]

In response to a 2014 poll with 72 percent support for same-sex marriage, de Bruyn dismissed the figures but refused to poll his members on the issue. He says he "knows they agree with him absolutely. When we talk to our members about out these things they agree with us".[2]

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. Speaking at an AWU event in 2003, former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam quipped that "Joe de Bruyn is a Dutchman who hates dykes." [7]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Knott, Matthew (29 May 2012). "Union Heavies - Joe de Bruyn". The Power Index. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Why is the union that represents supermarket workers stopping gay marriage?: SMH 2 May 2015
  3. ^ Grattan, Michelle (20 March 2011). "Look right, look left as faction action gathers pace". The Age. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Davis, Mark (28 April 2007). "Labor backs legal rights for same-sex couples". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Rodgers, Emma (19 November 2010). "Union boss savages Gillard on gay marriage". ABC News. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Norington, Brad (27 October 2003). "Rubbing shoulders with royalty - ALP royalty". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 August 2013.