On November 27, early in the morning, Jorge Castillo-Riffo was found on the scissor lift at the new Adelaide Hospital construction site. He had been crushed against a beam and died the following day. Castillo-Riffo cared about his fellow workers and was diligent about Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) at his work site. About 1400 construction workers walked off the site and did not return to work until the following Monday.
Two teenage asylum seekers have been taken from their homes in a community detention program in Adelaide’s inner-northern suburbs and sent to a closed detention centre, causing other young asylum seekers to run away from their homes in fear. On June 26, two young Vietnamese asylum seekers, who attended Woodville High School, were taken from their homes and detained by the immigration department.
Last month a South Australian Police (SAPOL) officer asked me to monitor the activities of political activists in Adelaide. On January 17, a plain-clothed officer approached me in a coffee shop. He explained that he recognised me as an activist, and told me he was with a special area of “security and intelligence” that aimed to create links between the police and the activist community. He appeared interested in gaining information on the activities of environmental groups, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israeli products and Tamil solidarity actions.
Adelaide's annual Green Left Weekly dinner fundraiser on November 10 brought together supporters from unions, social justice groups and the activist community, raising more than $1000 for the paper. This year, Sue Bull from the Geelong branch of Socialist Alliance delivered an impassioned keynote speech on the rising electoral support for socialists nationwide. Assistant Secretary of Australian Services Union (SA/NT) Joseph Scales also addressed the event, praising GLW for its support of workers' struggles.
The Adelaide Pride march snaked its way through the Adelaide CBD on November 10, bringing traffic to a standstill with blasting music, dancing and some wild outfits. The annual march celebrates the opening night of the Feast festival but, according to some attendees, it is also an opportunity for self-expression. “It allows us to be us. [We] don’t have to hide who we are,” marcher Sasha Delight told Green Left Weekly. First-time marcher Chloe Bleakley said: “Seeing everyone in the same place reminds us we're not alone.”
About 350 women took to the streets of Adelaide on October 26 as part of a Reclaim the Night protest. No march was held last year, so it was inspiring to see women of all ages marching through the central business and nightclub districts of Adelaide chanting, “whatever we wear, wherever we go — yes means yes, no means no”, and “women united will never be defeated”. The event was a women’s only space. Male supporters were encouraged to show support from the footpath along the march route.
Socialist Alliance activist and feminist Liah Lazarou gave the speech below to Adelaide’s Reclaim the Night rally on October 26. * * *
Fifteen hundred people rallied on September 30 in Adelaide to support solar thermal power in Port Augusta to replace the ageing coal stations, set to retire. They welcomed about 80 people who walked the 328-kilometre journey from Port Augusta to draw attention to the issue. Protesters rallied to show their support for a switch to solar thermal and becoming a world leader in renewable energy, rather than replacing dirty coal with gas.
The third Australia-wide gathering of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigners took place in Adelaide from September 21 to 23. The Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) hosted the weekend of events. A highlight of the three days was the appearance by London-based Israeli academic Ilan Pappe, who spoke twice. He spoke to 600 people at the annual Edward Said Memorial lecture, which is named for the late Palestinian academic.
We are facing a climate emergency. The impacts of increasing extreme weather events are already being felt around the world and the unprecedented record Arctic sea ice melt highlights the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. Shamefully, it is in this context that new coal and gas projects continue to be approved, and the federal government plans to give $4.5 billion in free carbon permits to the country’s dirtiest coal-fired power stations. This money should be put into building large-scale renewable energy, like solar thermal power for Port Augusta.