Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My March in March Melbourne

I've been to the occasional demonstration. In my university years I sat in the middle of North Terrace to demonstrate against the introduction of university fees. Yes, I went to university when it was free for the first two years of my course.

Since university, I've attended the odd gay pride march, joining friends in London, walking along Piccadilly with a feather boa around my neck amongst a group of friends, gay and straight. That was really cool.

I've been to the odd "Reclaim the Night" march, insisting that women have the right to be safe, no matter where, no matter when. It's something I truly believe in.

Another issue I will go and walk the streets for is abortion rights. I'm pro-choice and I always will be. This does not mean I believe that abortion should ever be used as a primary method of contraception and abortion after 12 weeks has to be strictly monitored, but having the right for safe, legal abortion to be taken away is as abhorrent as the death penalty to me. I've occasionally fronted the picket line outside the local abortion clinic. How dare they make one of the worst days of a person's life even more dreadful. It's none of their business.

Okay, lets crawl off my soap box.

When John Howard was about to thrust Australia into an armed conflict with Iran, I joined what felt like a million people down Swanston Street. Sam and I skipped out of work a bit early and we were floored by the number of people peacefully demonstrating, along with the demographics - elderly people, people with kids in prams, people in suits, families. It wasn't the "rent-a-crowd" lefty weirdos or high-vis and hard hat wearing builders who are normally on picket lines.

The 2001 anti-War march was the last demonstration I've attended. Have missed going to a number of other smaller ones in environmental issues.

What I'm saying is that I'm not one of the rent-a-crowd.

On Sunday, Jonella came to her first demonstration. Jay, my training buddy from the gym also came along. Jay's a middle aged suburban GP. Jonella and I are members of the professional working class. We're on decent salaries. We pay a fair whack of tax. We're not single parents, have kids in school, on the breadline, in manufacturing, resources or science.

The people at March in March were for the most part, people like us.

Normal people. People who care. Families. Office workers. Grandparents. Students. 

There wasn't a demographic.

This was a demonstration that was not organised by a political party or a union. It wasn't about one issue. You came if there was something concerning you about the way we are being currently governed. Jonella, Jay, myself and the 50,000 other people who came along all have major concerns. 

We gathered to show our dismay at the current Federal Government of Australia. March in March gave me, as well as everybody else who attended, an outlet to vent our concern, horror, dismay and disgust at the current regime.

For me, of particular concern:
  • The lack of fact-based decision making, especially around the environment
  • The lack of a Science Minister
  • The reliance on dogma rather than fact
  • The lack of a credible Minister for Women - having a misogynist as the Minister for Women is akin to having a vampire in charge of the blood bank
  • The lack of transparency from all departments in our current government
  • The treatment or should I say, the mistreatment of asylum seekers. It's wrong
  • What they're not doing for education
  • The fact they want to dump and dredge close to the Great Barrier Reef - this is just lunacy
  • The lack of support for renewable energy
My list continues - but needless to say, I'm not happy with what I'm seeing at all.

I'm lucky that my local MP represents my views, however as I'm represented by Adam Bandt of the Greens, I'm a bit under-represented. 

Jonella, Jay and I made it to the steps of the State Library at midday. I had a quick word to the cops who were standing quietly by. They were expecting no more than 500 people.... oops.

I felt a bit sorry for anybody trying to get through the city in a car on Sunday afternoon.

After some speeches, we started the slow walk down to Treasury Gardens. The crowd were orderly and respectful. There was no trouble. People with kids in prams, grandparents and grandkids, younger people, old people. You name it, they were there.

The thing that was really apparent was that people, lots of people, are very concerned about what our current government is doing in so many areas. The sign below is  good demonstration of this.

There has been some noise around the mainstream media that this was a rally for hooligans, run by hooligans.

It wasn't.

There were some great signs showing people's concern and disgust,

Here are a few from the march:

There's also be quite a bit of press around the anger addressed at Tony Abbott. I get why people are angry, but hating the man isn't going to get you anywhere.

Me, okay, I wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire, but I don't hate him. Rather feel sorry for him. I do, however very much dislike his and his parties general policies at the moment. This neo-conservative, Tea Party crap is not to my liking at all. 

I'm all for being economically rational. I'm for accountability - but not when it's implemented by secrecy, lies and misinformation. The last time I checked, Australia was not modeled on George Orwell's 1984.

Still - had a bit of a giggle at the following sign...

On reaching Treasury Gardens, Jonella, Jay and I didn't hang around, opting to all get some lunch. 

We were all very glad we participated. The right to peacefully demonstrate is a right. It may feel futile - it may even be futile, however, in the words of Deitrich Bonhoeffer, a great man who stood up against Hitler.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” 

I've taken that to heart recently, along with these words.

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” 

I shudder when I think about the kind of society this government thinks it's leaving for generations to come and it's because of this I will continue to peacefully protest.

1 comment:

Elephant's Child said...

Hear, hear. I couldn't get to our one - but my heart was decidedly there. And I too remember the 2001 Anti-War March. So many people, sharing values. It was fruitless - but lovely.
And I do hope that March in March DOES register. And it has to register more than staying home and sulking.