Struggle and Resistance in the Far North

Struggle and Resistance in the Far North by Rob Pyne

Cairns and Tropical Gardening » Struggle and Resistance in the Far North by Rob Pyne

Chapters 1 to 19.

  1. Far North Queensland
  2. Growing up in Australia
  3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
  4. Queensland Political Culture
  5. Princess Alexandra Hospital Spinal Unit
  6. People with Disabilities
  7. Cairns Regional Council
  8. Conservative Council
  9. ALP Qld
  10. Abortion Law Reform
  11. Fighting Fossil Fuel
  12. Local Government Corruption
  13. Losing to Labor
  14. My Cairns Council
  15. Council Mayors Silencing Dissent
  16. Socialist Alliance and Fighting Fascism
  17. Jenny Pyne, Life and Pain
  18. Cairns Council Members Swing Right
  19. Fightback and Farewell

Rob Pyne’s Struggle and Resistance in the Far North, is a glimpse into Far North Queensland politics, history and culture. It is an account of the region’s hidden stories and some interesting local characters. Rob gives his account in concert with his own story. As a result, this work links the personal with the political in a unique way.

This is a story of oppression and fightback, taking the side of the underdog in the fight against authority. However the account begins with early European arrivals and their struggle surviving in a strange and alien land.

Aboriginal Struggle and Resistance

As new arrivals began to prosper, life became increasingly oppressive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They were attacked, murdered and had their land stolen. This period became known as the Frontier Wars.

Subsequently, during the 20th century, the regions first people were disenfranchised and denied full citizenship. As a result, they became determined to resist authority and fight for change, as would future oppressed minorities.

The battle against violence and discrimination was also encountered by Pacific Islanders taken from their homes and used as slave-labour for the sugar industry.

Later, Italian cane cutters, the unemployed and the working poor formed unions and associations to combat injustice. As a result of this struggle, socialist heroes emerged to champion the fight for rights and a better life. We look at these heroes, their victories and their defeats.

Struggle and Resistance for Abortion Rights

The Queensland Criminal Code was enacted in 1899 and abortion remained a crime under that code for over 100 years. Women were forced into unwanted pregnancies and criminalised for seeking control over their own bodies. Consequently, dangerous ‘back yard abortions’ became commonplace and many women died unnecessary deaths.

This was until 2016 when Rob (then the MP for Cairns) introduced a Bill to have abortion removed from the Criminal Code. This lead to a chain of events that finally saw the law reformed so women finally had autonomy over their own bodies.

All of this followed campaigning by a group of leftist Cairns women, organised under the banner ‘Pro-Choice Cairns’. The campaign was embraced by women across the state, who put so much pressure on politicians that they had no choice to act. Consequently, an agreement between the Member for Cairns and the ALP delivered victory in the campaign for abortion law reform.

abortion law reform cairns

Environmental Struggle and Resistance

During the 21st century the environmental crisis became a focus of leftist resistance. Climate Change threatened to transform the planet as it had been known and the very survival of human populations around the globe.

For two decades, precious time was lost as politicians sought to make political mileage at our collective cost. As a consequence of frustration at the lack of action and persistent climate change denial, socialists led in fighting fossil fuel in the struggle and resistance to save our climate.

Struggle and Resistance
Struggle and Resistance on Climate

LQBTIQ Struggle and Resistance in the Far North

More recently environmentalists and the LGBTIQ community have come forward in the battle for the natural world and the human rights of same sex and gender diverse communities.

Threats in the 2020s included neo-nazis protesting against the rights of transgender people and capitalists opening new coal mines, despite the dire consequences for humanity.

With the decline of the Communist Party, it was parties such as Socialist Alliance and the Queensland Greens that took up positions in the vanguard of the struggle for the human rights of oppressed people.

The struggle for respect, equality and human dignity may never be completely won. As a result, the fights with Conservatives for the soul of humanity will continue. So it has become clear what characterises our fight for a better world, ‘Struggle and Resistance’.

Who is Rob Pyne?

Rob Pyne was born in 1967. He worked in various jobs, until breaking his neck in 1991, becoming a quadriplegic. Consequently, he received lengthy care in Princess Alexandra Hospital.


Rob married his fiancé Jenny while still in hospital. Following this, the pair returned to Cairns where they lived in the suburbs of Bentley Park and Mount Sheridan.

Rob subsequently completed a BA in History and Politics and a Law Degree. He also worked at James Cook University from 2000 to 2007.

Rob campaigned successfully for election to Cairns Regional Council in 2008. Consequently he completed two terms and then won election to the Queensland Parliament in 2015. As a result of his subsequent electoral defeat, Rob returned to Council, winning Division 2 in March 2020.

The stage was then set for the final chapter of Struggle and Resistance in the Far North. However, not all stories have a happy ending.

The sudden death of his wife Jenny in July 2022 shook Rob’s world. His grief, difficulties with his own health and a lawsuit from former LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam all led to Rob’s decision not to seek re-election as the Councillor for Division 2.

However, following encouragement he stood for Division 5 at the 2024 Council election on a green platform with the hope of establishing a progressive base in Cairns inner city suburbs. He was successful and continues this push in what is sure to be his final years as a Cairns Regional Councillor.

Rob says his greatest achievement in life was his marriage to Jenny and raising their only child Kate in a warm and loving environment.

  • Dr. C.R. Kelly (Editor)

Struggle and Resistance in the Far North