National Council 2023 Wrap

Over 70 elected National Council Delegates and observers from all parts of our union, and all parts of the country, gathered in Brisbane from 21-23 November for the 15th bi-annual RTBU National Council.


The National Council took two-and-a-half days and was sponsored by AustralianSuper. Day 1 was devoted to seperate meetings of our six national occupation-based divisions, while Days 2 and 3 involved a mass meeting (plenary session) of all National Council delegates.

This year’s National Council also celebrated the 30 anniversary of the amalgamation of four separate unions into the modern RTBU.

Over the past three decades our union has developed into a powerful, professional, member-led organisation – almost 35,000 members strong.

We’re a campaigning outfit that doesn’t just give our members a voice, it gives them a megaphone.

And we’re expanding our reach and our influence across our industries - improving workplace safety, lifting the standard of training, and ensuring terms and conditions that allow workers in our industries to live a dignified life.

But none of this has happened by accident. Our strength is the result of decades of hard work, built on the wisdom and courage of the workers who saw the benefits of creating national all-grades union for the rail tram and bus industries back in 1993.

We’ve survived countless challenges, we’ve won countless victories, and we’re just warming up.

Here are some of the highlights of National Council 2023:


  • Turning the RTBU-owned Registered Training Organisation, Training Ahead Australia, into a Not-For-Profit organisation;
  • Establishing a national RTBU Enabled Committee to better represent the needs of members with disabilities;
  • Recognising nationally-accredited qualifications for bus and tram operations;
  • Developing a strategy to support frontline RTBU members from aggressive, threatening and abusive behaviour;
  • Developing a strategy to combat the introduction of autonomous vehicles;
  • Developing model EA clauses in relation to reproductive leave and bereavement leave;
  • Adopting the Queensland Branch’s BUSTED campaign as a national campaign;
  • Recognising the contribution of Tasmanian Branch Secretary Ric Bean; and
  • Conferring Life Membership on Mick Kavanagh from SA/NT Branch.


Guest speakers from across Australia and around the world attended National Council, and participated in discussions that were both informative and inspiring. The guest speaker list included:

  • Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Hon Catherine King MP;
  • RMTU (New Zealand) General Secretary Todd Valster;
  • ASLEF (UK) General Secretary Mick Whelan;FMRWTU (Mongolia) Vice President Enkthugs Bat-Erdene;
  • JRU (Japan) Vice President Akinori Yanagai, with interpreter Tomoko Emilie Mukawa;
  • TWU Assistant National Secretary Nick McIntosh;MUA Assistant National Secretary Mich-Elle Myers;
  • Mining & Energy Union National Secretary Grahame Kelly;
  • Co-Convenor of NSW Labor Enabled Andrew Shim;
  • AustralianSuper Head of Intermediary Member Growth Luke Fraser;
  • Union Health Partnerships and Member Growth Manager Rob Buchanan;
  • Training Ahead Australia CEO Danielle Walz;
  • ACTU Secretary Sally McManus; 
  • Comedian and media personality Nazeem Hussain, who hosted the National Council dinner.

Mark Diamond also gave a speech to the National Council dinner, where he told guests that RTBU members can move mountains when they work together.

Click here to see the video of Mark's speech.


You can see the highlights of National Council by flicking through the photos on our Facebook image galleries and watching the short National Council video. A video celebrating the 30th anniversary of the amalgamation which formed the modern RTBU was shown at the beginning of the National Council. Finally, we also released a booklet about the amalgamation and the development of our national, all- grades union

Image Gallery: National Council Plenary 1

Image Gallery: National Council Plenary 2

Image Gallery: National Council Dinner

Video of National Council Highlights Video

Special Video to mark to the 30th Anniversary of the RTBU

History Booklet Commemorating 30 Years of the RTBU


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