In a flutter of illustriously drawn signs and people ranging from toddlers to the elderly today came “March in March”, a nation-wide event which invited people unhappy with the government to gather and demonstrate their disdain for Tony Abbott, the Liberal-National Coalition, their policies and even the previous governments actions.
March in March lists their purpose on their website as “…to provide the people of Australia with the opportunity to come together to protest a unity vote of no confidence in the Abbott Government…culminating in a march on Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 17th March 2014”, but in no way did anybody believe that numbers pushing 100,000+ would take to the streets and demand change.
Issues including the environment, climate change, asylum seekers and offshore processing, marriage equality, the targeting of the SBS and ABC, women in cabinet and unionism all got a look in, as well as people expressing their dislike and lack of trust towards the PM himself.
An estimated 50,000 people marched throughout Melbourne today, whilst tens of thousands also gathered in the Sydney CBD and smaller crowds gathered in rural towns throughout the nation. English singer and activist Billy Bragg also made an appearance at the Sydney march, speaking to the masses declaring “…the true enemy is not actually capitalism or conservatism – it’s cynicism”.
The protest today coincides with Tasmania choosing to elect their Liberal government into power yesterday, after the ALP holding a massive 16 years in office and a hung parliament likely in South Australia.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten decided to detach himself from the protests, stating clearly that the Labor Party was not formally involved.
Whilst demonstrations remain as one of the three key informal ways of changing laws, todays efforts throughout our nation are a galvanising look into the power that the citizen holds, and I don’t think these are the last ones we will see in the future. Does democracy end at the ballot-box? Is a no confidence motion in Australia’s future? Is the government ignoring their citizens and international obligations? Or are these demonstrations just a waste of time?
Let us know your thoughts below.