The Guardian • Issue #2007

Report from South Australia

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2007

The 30th April marked a return to the city of Adelaide for the May Day March and Rally. Marchers assembled in Tarndarnyangga (Victoria Square) before proceeding to Elder Park for the traditional rally. Sally MacManus, secretary of Australian Council of Trade Unions spoke at the rally, making clear the urgency of removing the current anti-worker government in Canberra.

There were a number of May Day celebrations following the May Day March such as the May Day Dance held at the Semaphore Workers’ Club with workers’ songs being sung by the likes of Stephen O’Malley, Shambolics, and the Fiddle Chicks.

The commemorations continued with the adding of Ben Carslake to the list on the Workers’ Memorial. Affectionately Known as Bennie, he was a forthright union leader most of his life. He selflessly helped many workers who found themselves in dire employment difficulties. Truly a workers’ hero.

One of the important ceremonies associated with May Day is the presentation of the Silver Spanner Award which recognises comrades who make outstanding contributions to the advancement of the labour movement in South Australia. This year’s recipient was a most worthy comrade in Sally Mitchell, currently secretary of the South Australian Branch of the Communist Party of Australia.

Mitchell began her working career as fitter and turner, one of the first women to quality in this trade in South Australia. As a union activist Mitchell rose through the ranks to become a union secretary, being in that position in the Food Preservers Union for many years. Her family has a proud union tradition. Her father and step-father are both listed on the Workers’ Monument at Black Diamond in the heart of Port Adelaide. Her mother, Marcia Munn, has a been long-standing loyal member of the CPA in South Australia. Mitchell, who has worked tirelessly over the years to achieve improvements in workers’ lives, professed that she was overwhelmed by the honour.

The presentation was made by assistant national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Jamie Newlyn, at a special ceremony in the Waterside Workers Hall, Port Adelaide on May Day.

The Silver Spanner Award began about twenty years ago to recognise outstanding achievements of working people striving for fair working conditions, a better society and a better world. Last year’s winner, Ben Carslake, was urgently presented with his award just three days before May Day and sadly passed away on 30th April, 2021.

Members of the CPA in South Australia are very proud of Comrade Sally, and very honoured that a party member has received such a prestigious award two years in a row.


The South Australian union movement, indeed progressive politics and social advancement, has lost a loyal and forthright comrade in Martin O’Malley. In particular, the strength of his support for the brave nation of Cuba, an exemplary model of socialism.

With stirring oratory as a great strength, along with keen perception of the shortcomings of the capitalist system, O’Malley was a forthright unionist who had the capacity to inspire comrades to action.

During the controversy of the carbon tax in 2011, O’Malley as state secretary of the of the SA branch of CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) went public declaring that carbon polluters should not simply be taxed, but, in fact, they should be jailed.

The loss of comrade Stephen Darley is equally sad. Many comrades knew Darley as an activist in the peace movement, possibly through the peace radio program, Peace of the Action, which ran for twenty years on Radio Adelaide. Darley also maintained his activism essentially in community environment programs.

More recently, he became a leader in the SA branch of IPAN (Independent and Peaceful Australia Network), and was active on the national board. Naturally, he was very much involved in the anti-AUKUS-anti-nuclear subs campaign as well. His last major demonstration would have been the Palm Sunday March only last April.

Darley will be remembered as a dedicated activist for peace and the environment. Many will remember his musical talents too and his enjoyment of life and companionship. Always positive and optimistic, Stephen leaves us all with an exemplary role model to follow in advocating for peace and the environment.

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