WARRIOR: ETU state secretary Peter Simpson faces his toughest battle yet against stage four melanoma.
WARRIOR: ETU state secretary Peter Simpson faces his toughest battle yet against stage four melanoma. David Nielsen

Working class hero Simmo's toughest battle yet

PETER Simpson has fought and won plenty of battles on behalf of ETU members and working families but now he faces his toughest battle yet.

The Electrical Trades Union state secretary is battling Stage 4 melanoma and as a result Peter Ong has stepped into the role of acting ETU state secretary as the man known universally as 'Simmo' fights his own personal war.

Working people who value a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and decent conditions for themselves and their families have a lot to thank Mr Simpson for.

He is well known in Ipswich for standing up to the LNP on behalf of local workers after the job losses that were announced at the Swanbank power station before the last state election.

He was also a prime mover in the Not4Sale campaign which was opposed to asset sales and privatisation of the electricity industry.

The ETU sent a delegation to help Ipswich residents clean up after the 2011 the floods and, under Mr Simpson's leadership, have given a strong voice in the campaign against asset sales, particularly in Ipswich.

"The world, Queensland and places like Ipswich need people like Peter Simpson around to stand up and fight on behalf of people who can't fight for themselves," ETU state organiser and Mr Simpson's close mate Stuart Traill said.

"He's stood up to a number of governments (both LNP and ALP) on behalf of workers and he has won.

"He has countless achievements standing up for ETU members and the broader labour movement and we all have our fingers and toes crossed and we are standing with him as he fights this battle.

"It is something he needs to concentrate on, hence his decision to step aside."

Blair MP Shayne Neumann described Mr Simpson as "a great warrior for the working class".

Political and industrial warfare can be fought in an almost jungle environment. Mr Simpson has been a rhinoceros in that jungle - thick skinned, strong in the face of adversity and he comes straight at you when he attacks.

Just ask Ian Berry and Sean Choat, who lost their LNP seats in Ipswich and Ipswich West largely because of Mr Simpson's work in the Not4Sale campaign in Ipswich. But he never attacked by stealth. He came for them straight between the eyes.

"If Simmo played league in the front-row and played the same way he has fought his union battles he would have played for Australia," Mr Traill said.

"One of the things I have always respected about Simmo, and it is what he has taught all of us, is that if you go after someone in campaigns or on an issue...to go from the front.

"He never stabbed people in the back. It was always in the front. And you maintain respect that way.

"In the rough and tumble of politics and the industrial game you have to be able to maintain relationships and the only way you can is to stick to principles, maintain credibility and come from the front."

Mr Traill said Mr Simpson was the best union organiser and leader he had ever known.

But he added that he had always ensured there was a succession plan in place and that Mr Ong would continue his legacy with aplomb.

Winning against the odds has been a Simpson trademark.

"Simmo played a key role in helping this government win the 'unwinnable election'," Ipswich-based Mr Traill said.

"I'll never forget the Redcliffe by-election, which was the first test of the Newman Government and the Not4Sale campaign's efforts to stop privatisation, and Simmo as he always does went all in and challenged the premier and Tim Nicholls that the by-election would be an indication of the view of the people.

"He led that campaign and thousands of people in Queensland, and in particular Ipswich, followed him. When he stands up and talks he talks from the heart and his principles are beyond reproach."

Mr Simpson has taken on both the ALP and LNP over his career.

He and Mr Traill were expelled by the ALP from the party when they stood up to the Bligh government's asset sales ahead of the disastrous 2012 election.

Both were later reinstated, and proven right in their stance.

Simpson was under immense pressure in that time as the state secretary of an ALP-affiliated union, but he did not flinch.

His supporters and opponents will wish him all the best as he fights his toughest battle yet.

Only a fool would back against him winning again.

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