Nearly10,000 protestors gathered in regional city centres around Australia today for marches against Abbott government policies which organisers say lack 'decency , transparency and accountability'.
The largest crowd gathered in Lismore where somewhere between 5000 and 7000 people filled a city park.(This blog is still trying to find out if this is biggest or one of the biggest marches in Lismore's history.) As protestor Terry Lawrence who documented the march with 350 photos said on Facebook: "Everybody who came through, near the Museum and the camera went for 26 minutes non stop".
As Destroy the Joint convenor and journalist Jenna Price reported in the Canberra times in February, the protests are part of the March in March movement which is "what looks like an authentic public reaction to the Abbott government's way of running Australia - which means it's not only about asylum seekers; or climate change; or education funding; or union bashing; or attacks on universal healthcare coverage".
From Fraser Coast in Queensland to Castlemaine and Bendigo in Central Victoria and Newcastle in NSW, more than 20 marches are planned tomorrow. A highlight of this campaign is an unprecedented array of marches in smaller cities. But the biggest marches are expected tomorrow in Australia's biggest cities Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, where UK musician Billy Braggs will play. In Melbourne, which has a history of holding bigger marches than in other cities, protestors will be highlighting the threat to civil liberties represented by new anti-protest laws passed by the Napthine Liberal government last week.
Speaking in Gosford to more than 1000 protestors Anglican Minister Rod Bower said, " We must seek to inform the people with the truth that is now being denied us by our government. The truth about Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island, the truth that it is not illegal to seek asylum, the truth about the Transpacific Partnership, the truth about Coal Seam Gas, the dumping of medicare and education, the truth, the truth."
Some speakers suggested that it was important not to focus too heavily on Prime Minister's Abbott's personal qualities. People should look past Abbott to the people hiding behind his decisions, Larrakia woman Ali Mills stressed to about 500 protestors in Darwin carrying placards opposing power privatisation, CSG, environmental damage from mining, supporting refugees and pro choice policies.
Hundreds also marched in Grafton and Armidale in NSW,
In Queensland, 800 marched in Cairns and hundreds in Gympie, Toowoomba and Caboolture, where as My Sunshine Coast reported speeches were made by "people who operate homeless shelters, that are now without resources and the find themselves providing food and shelter (sleeping bag) for people that they turn away..."
March in March supporters have expressed disappointment with mainstream media, which apart from SBS and regional outlets Sunshinecoast.com, Gympie Times and Expess Advocate appeared to have ignored the marches today. These regional reports were written in advance and based on media releases. Only mysunshinecoast.com.au published a news report. ( The Chronical covered the Toowoomba march - see note below.)
The movement has tried to compensate by building a facebook site with 46,000 followers and many supporters are using twitter to communicate news and ideas about the rallies. Many individual supporters have made their own videos and postings.
Citizen Journalism site No Fibs is providing the most comprehensive coverage and GreenLeft Weekly is live blogging.
While the organisers have consistently said there were no party affiliations, it is obvious that there are few current LNP supporters involved although some disillusioned LNP voters may be attending . As one poster in Caboolture declared "More trees, less LNPs".
Additions : Late on Saturday night, ABC24 carried a report of the Darwin march. Somewhat oddly for a news report, it did not include reference to the other marches that had been held around Australia, even the more than 5000 strong march in Lismore.
The Chronicle in Toowoomba also covered the march quoting one of the orgnanisers Rebecca Manners who said "she had read about the concept months ago and watched keenly for any Toowoomba events. "I kept watching and watching but nothing happened here in Toowoomba," she said. "The last straw for me was the dredging in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, so I put my hand up to organise an event. All the organisers around the country are just ordinary people too. It's for anybody that feels they're not being represented at the moment and there are so many people that feel that way."