Protestor takes his message all the way to parliament

Protestor takes his message all the way to parliament

Desmond Bowers using what he likes to call the ‘Asbestos flag‘ to protest in front of parliament. Photograph — Richard Polden.

Desmond Bowers was so concerned about ridding society of asbestos and related illnesses he was taking it all the way to Parliament.

On September 2 the East Cannington resident decided to complete a two-hour walk from Welshpool, passing by Solidarity Park and stopping by Parliament House to protest against asbestos, commemorate asbestos victims and question the government’s lack of services provided at Solidarity Park.

Mr Bowers took on his journey a flag he calls the ‘Asbestos Flag’ which he said represented crocidolite, white chrysotile, brown amosite – three main types of asbestos fibres.

Mr Bowers said currently more than 120 schools in WA have an asbestos risk and it was believed that about 600 schools and 200 transportable buildings had asbestos.

Mr Bowers said 22 years ago, he was part of the Plumbers Union’s move to adopt a new law under the Mining Act to stop the then-Liberal government from moving use away from the site known today as Solidarity Park.

“After 22 years, thousands of asbestos victims and the inadequacy in palliative care funding, the deficiency in removing asbestos from schools and the cry out for WorkSafe to do its job and not just measuring up,” he said.

Mr Bowers said he was frustrated that after two decades there was still no drinking water or power connected at Solidarity Park.

“Yet opposite is Parliament House with its filter water and full of dignity,” he said.

Unions WA recently received a management order about Solidarity Park and secretary Meredith Hammat said Unions WA is responsible for the use, upkeep and maintenance of the park.

“We are pleased that the park is in the hands of the union movement,” she said.

“Unions WA is considering medium to long term renovations and upkeep for the site.

“This includes connecting a water source and maintaining Solidarity Park as a memorial space.

“We are working through options with government.”

Solidarity Park was founded in 1997 during the ‘Third Wave Campaign’ which was considered as one of the most significant labour struggles in WA’s history.

A worker’s embassy was established inside the grounds of Parliament House and today the park remains an important site, which continues to be used for annual union events including commemorations and as a site for protest by various community groups.