March in March 2014. Alice Street in Brisbane. I have 2/3 of my fellow marchers behind me.
Grandmothers, grandfathers, mum, dads, uni students, workers, high school students, kids in strollers. Italians, Greeks, English, Kiwis, Malaysian, Japanese, Indigenous, Dutch…all Australians of course. Straight, gay, bisexual, transgender. Taxi drivers, labourers, doctors, scientists, child care workers, teachers, a dentist. These were some of the people whom I chatted to on Sunday March 16, 2014 at the inaugural March in March in Brisbane. All were pissed off.
For those Australians living under a rock, or only relying on main stream media for news (same thing), the March in March was a protest rally organised as part of a grass-roots campaign to send a message to the new Australian government that the policies they have introduced and plan to introduce are…. well……crap. It took place in every capital city and numerous regional cities over 3 days.
So, how many people turned up and what were they protesting about? The second question is easy. The answer is “everything”. Tony Abbott has, through ideological blindness and contempt of the Australian people, managed to make himself the least popular Prime Minister on record. In only his first 6 months or so, he has broken numerous important promises and has implemented a number of others that suit the rich at the expense of the poor but were not mentioned prior to the election. He has engaged in cronyism of the highest order appointing toadies and bootlickers to positions in the bureaucracy that they are not qualified for, presumably on the proviso that they toe the line and piss off as many people off as possible. Judging from what I saw and heard, people were protesting issues such as treatment of asylum seekers, environmental destruction, climate change denial, stripping of services, dishonesty and lying, secrecy and the obvious hypocrisy where the budget is concerned. They were protesting because they feel disenfranchised, taken for granted and from many I spoke to, they are sick of being treated like they are idiots. I subscribe to all of the above.
Intelligent Australians know when they are being lied to, and they are starting to realise that this government has set out on a course of social re-engineering in an ideologically driven campaign to favour big business at the expense of everyone else, an ideologically driven desire to initiate a class war where the disabled, elderly and unemployed are treated like second class citizens and where those people who don’t fit into Tony Abbott’s 16th century catholic ideals get to be vilified and discriminated against. This is what we’re angry about.
More than 100000 people marched over the weekend and the vast majority have never protested before. A number of the socially conservative media types have denounced the march as disorganised with no clear message. I find this highly amusing and narrow-minded. The fact that so many people were protesting about so many issues and decisions made by this government should send a shiver up the spine of every conservative politician. In essence, we 100000+ people aren’t saying there is one or two things wrong with the government, we are saying EVERYTHING is wrong with the government. This was never going to be a single issue protest as was seen in the anti-Vietnam protests of the seventies or the union heavy industrial relations protests of the last decade. This march was a motion of no confidence in the government on EVERYTHING.
Now, I have often remarked on Twitter that I cannot find anyone in my large circle of acquaintances willing to admit that they voted for the LNP. I have a fair idea which ones did, but they won’t admit it. On Sunday, I spoke briefly to an older lady who called me over to compliment me on my sign. She told me that the most important part of my sign was the top part. “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”. She went on to inform me that she had voted conservatively all her life and had done so in the 2013 election that brought Tony Abbott to power. She said, “Never again will I vote for this lot. They have pulled a swift one with the electorate and are going too far with their agenda. Abbott has become the Sarah Palin of Australian politics. She was crazy.”
I realise that this was just one person of many and she may well be an anomaly, but what if she isn’t? How many people who voted for the LNP last election were sitting at home on the weekend but feeling equally betrayed, just not enough to get out and protest? I can only wonder and hope there are plenty. So, Tony Abbott can publicly make jokes about the March in March, but you can bet he’s well and truly aware and privately concerned. If he isn’t, he is more arrogant or stupid (or both) than I thought.
So, where to from here? I am already thinking about next year’s March in March and how to do my bit to attract even more people to attend. It will probably take 250000 people attending to get the main stream media to report it.