Orange Region Tourism boss and Ross Hill Wines founder Peter Robson has been awarded Australia Day honours.
Mr Robson has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia [AO] for distinguished service to business plus leadership in manufacturing, engineering and industrial relations.
The award acknowledges his life-long dedication to the manufacturing industry, trade unions and education.
“They are the three key drivers for me,” he said.
“I’m very honoured to get where I am. I’ve never looked back in my life.”
He started his working life in the glass industry after obtaining a chemical engineering degree.
“I ended up running the plant I started in. It employed about 1200 people,” he said.
“Manufacturing is a very creative process. It supplies good, well-paid jobs to people.”
He was been on several government and industry advisory boards and councils. It was on a government board set up by former prime minister Gough Whitlam he met then Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) boss Bob Hawke.
It led him to joining, and ultimately leading, one of Australia’s largest unions, the Community and Public Sector Union, as well as being on the the ACTU executive.
“I’m a big fan of unions,” he said.
“I’ve never come across a crook union official in my time. Most union officials are hard-working, poorly paid people.”
Mr Robson said he believed in the “dignity of labour” where workers should have good, well-paid jobs.
He is currently the chair of the University of Wollongong Enterprises.
Mr Robson said it was a pathway college that helped people improve their lives through education.
“There are wonderful examples of people who have had a difficult start but have come through,” he said.
“It is wonderful to see what education can do for people.”
His other roles include being chairman of defence industry provider CEA Technologies and Turnkey – a Sydney engineering firm.
In 1994 he founded the Ross Hill Wine Group in Orange, which is still run by his family.
Late last year he was named as chairman of the new Orange Region Tourism body and has already begun working to improve the region’s attraction for tourists.
“I think that I feel very honoured to get [the award],” he said.
“Whoever made it happen, a big thanks.
“It has come a bit out of the blue.”