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In March, we’ll march again

We’re marching again, writes Loz Lawrey. And with good reason.

In 2008, when Australia faced a real and actual global financial crisis, sound economic initiatives by the Labor government of the day sheltered our nation from the pain suffered by other western nations.

In the months leading up to the 7th September 2013 election the Australian electorate was assaulted by a barrage of hysterical obfuscation that twisted facts and distorted reality, creating the false perception of a disastrous budgetary/national debt problem.

With no clear plan other than arrogant (and now clearly disproven) assertions of “grownup” economic competence, the LNP opposition bluffed its way into power, supported and enabled by business interests and a compliant media.

Sadly, a good government was laid low by a perfect storm of misrepresen-tation brought on by the collusion of neoliberal proselytisers, would-be oligarchs, mining billionaires, climate-change denialists, right-wing radio shock-jocks and media opinion-mongers.

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch was a central player in the Great Aussie Swindle, his newspapers reinforcing the illusion of “Labor’s mess” and promoting the Abbott campaign.

The incoming LNP government, with the hubris of the self-deluded who believe their own manufactured and spin-doctored myths, claimed a mandate to do whatever they wished in terms of policy implementation.

Australians had elected a far-right government with a textbook neoliberal agenda based on little more than a religious belief in free-market ideology, predator capitalism and the idolatry of greed.

It was a strange choice for a nation that had successfully weathered the global financial crisis and whose economy was the envy of other western democracies.

It was clear to anyone with their eyes open that the incoming Abbott government would treat the electorate with dishonesty and contempt.

The wafer-thin difference between a broken promise and a lie is invisible to anyone with a conscience.

Yet lies, delivered daily with weasel-words and blatant truth-distortion, have been the stock-in-trade of the Abbott regime.

Only three months after the 2013 election a group of concerned citizens came together on the social media platforms of Twitter and Facebook, galvanised into political action and democratic participation by the shock of witnessing what they saw as a disaster for Australia’s social democracy – the accession to power of a “lost-in-space” government of Tea Party ideologues with clearly flawed priorities and scant regard for the public good.

Democracy had been subverted, and the people had to step up.

By mid-March 2014 word had spread in classic grassroots fashion, and 100,000 people took part in the “March In March” protest rallies at some twenty-five locations nationally over three days to voice their disgust with the Abbott government’s performance and future intentions.

At these rallies the placards of those attending expressed outrage and concern at government decisions across-the-board, in policy areas from education to the environment, from health to climate change to the inhumane treatment of refugee asylum seekers.

The March protests culminated with the presentation of a “Statement Of No Confidence In The Abbott Government From The People Of Australia” at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 17th March.

This document entered the history books two days later, when Greens Senator Scott Ludlam attempted (unsuccessfully, for technical reasons) to table it in the Senate.

Today, member groups of the community alliance of volunteers known as “March Australia” are hard at work planning protests for the weekend of 21-22 March 2015, the first anniversary of the March In March rallies.

From picnics in the park to full-on protest marches, people in communities around Australia will find their own ways to express themselves, raising their voices in support of the fair and just society we all value so much and the good governance we demand.

The public’s perception of an unfair, lying government shifting wealth upwards and demonising minorities is now shared by many who voted for Abbott in 2013.

This government’s policies will hurt most Australians who aren’t members of the privileged and wealthy elite, be they tertiary students, First Australians, union members, refugee asylum seekers, the unemployed, the sick, the disabled, the elderly or the poor.

There’s a strong likelihood that by March the number of “feet-on-the-street” will have swelled, now that even the government’s own MP’s have been copping serious flak from voters in their electorates over the LNP’s performance to date.

The knighting of England’s Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, yet another example of Tony Abbott’s unhinged “captain’s call” decision-making, has reinforced the public perception that our Prime Minister lives in a mental fairyland, totally divorced from the reality of everyday life.

Now that the Productivity Commission has been charged with conducting a workplace review, there is widespread concern that Abbott is intensifying his assault on working people and their entitlements, hard-won by unions over many years.

In other words, the government wants to remove penalty rates and unfair dismissal laws and reduce the minimum wage to a level lower than the actual cost of living, under the pretext that our economy needs business “flexibility” and “sustainability”.

It’s very hard to see how turning Australia into a Little America by entrenching a far greater underclass of working poor than that the one we already have will make for a better society.

The budget handed down in May 2014 was a turning-point, a watershed moment which laid bare the new government’s agenda, in all its elitist ugliness, for all to see.

Like a child who sees that the emperor has no clothes, Australians saw bad policies which demonstrate obvious contempt for the most marginalised and disenfranchised people in our society – in other words, a complete trashing of Australia’s cherished Fair Go.

Like that child, we must speak up. Our social democracy is being wounded daily, suffering blow after blow from a government which repeatedly lies and misleads us and has no respect for we, the people.

Those of us who care will march again in March.


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  1. @RosemaryJ36

    What price the lucky country with a Tea Party government increasing inequality!

  2. CMMC

    How about a Whitlam-era ‘Maintain the Rage!’ spirit.

    The Abbott rabble gained office by deception and they were ‘shepherded’ all the way to the line by the MSM.

    ‘We want the REAL Government back, not these crazed and humourless zombies.’

  3. Robert W Gough

    This is a wonderful, clear and articulate summary of Australian politics during the last six years. Congratulations Loz Lawrey, I think you are fantastic. You should write speeches for the Opposition Leader.

  4. Graeme Henchel

    A good piece and I will be at the March. However there was no mention of the internal ructions within the ALP which in my view were the most costly self indulgence and bought us the disaster that is Abbott. The ALP need to be reminded that this cost them dearly as it will cost the coalition over the coming months. I primarily blame Rudd but there were also people who supported his undermining of JG after his removal and subsequent rebuffs by caucus. These supporters included the popular Albanese and the opposition treasurer Bowen. The ALP need to constantly remind voters that they in fact had a successful policy agenda and a successful legislative record despite these ructions and also that they acknowledge the internal conflict was a stupid and unforgivable episode. Commentators should also acknowledge this. It is just so easy to lampoon the hopeless Abbott that is is easy to forget that Labor also played a part in its own demise at the last election.

  5. babyjewels10

    I will be at the March, even if the LNP win Government and stop the trains for maintenance, in Brisbane again.

  6. Loz Lawrey

    I totally agree with you, Graeme. I agonised over whether to mention Labor’s own issues, and you’re right – their electoral demise was partly self-inflicted. I just didn’t feel I had the space to get lost in analysis, and wanted this piece to focus on today’s situation and the reasons we need to keep opposing this bad government. I also feel that Labor damaged their own public image, but still managed the country well.

  7. Loz Lawrey

    Thanks for your kind comment, Robert.

  8. Patriciawa

    Great! Keep us updated on details of THE MARCH in Freo!

  9. stephentardrew

    Leathers polished and ready to go.

  10. Patriciawa

    I should have said earlier, “Great overview, Loz, and very well written, but had an unexpected visitor, so rushed my comment through.

    Also Graeme Henchel is right to remind us of Labor’s own part in their downfall. I have wanted to write about that and like him “

    I primarily blame Rudd but there were also people who supported his undermining of JG after his removal and subsequent rebuffs by caucus.”

    Throughout that awful time I was constantly in a turmoil about my own support of the ALP knowing that people like Ministers Albanese and Bowen amongst others in a functioning government were willing to have contact with Rudd at all, since he was clearly undermining their Party. This hardly made him good leadership material, forgetting their earlier experience of him as PM which had already seen him off before! What possessed them?????

  11. diannaart

    Please, please, please, please, may I be well enough to March in March this year.

  12. Margaret McMillan

    Thanks for a great summary Loz. Hopefully, people will not be put off protesting because they have just given up on this rotten lot. The only way as a country that we are going to have our voices heard is for as many of us as possible to get out there. If we turn up in our thousands, Abbott won’t be able to dismiss us as graffiti artists!
    A number of people have said to me recently that there’s no real reason to march in March this year. I totally disagree. Things are, if anything, worse than they were a year ago. The fact that the LNP just don’t get it is illustrated by this silly talk of consulting more, or boasting more about achievements. What achievements? An how can they improve that disgraceful budget by explaining it better? We know what the budget was trying to do – and it wasn’t about fixing any deficit.
    I also believe we have to be careful of thinking that getting rid of Abbott is the solution to anything. The rest of them are a lost cause as well as far as a decent democracy is concerned.

  13. lawrencewinder

    Margaret McMillan… I think you are correct…” we have to be careful of thinking that getting rid of Abbott is the solution to anything. The rest of them are a lost cause as well as far as a decent democracy is concerned.” We have to think beyond Marching and feel-good assembly. They behave like mongrels and should be treated as such.

  14. corvus boreus

    If you are stuck for a sign, I suggest ” federal ICAC now “. ICAC in red capitals (black outline [visibility]).

  15. eli nes

    It would be an awful irony if a media frenzy only a fraction of that the rabbott stirred against gillard would invoke sympathy for this man who was vicious in his attacks on her and is vindictive in wasting millions on royal commissions.
    The media is already very kind in their reporting of the rabbott’s gaffes. He said, about his ‘sir phillip’ ‘he would take it on ‘the chest’ then corrected to ‘the chin’ not one news item I saw had ‘chest’. Why the omission? Self censorship? Perhaps he got his his putin shirtfront wrong again?
    Does anyone think gillard would have got away with that?
    I have a new knee, my darling a new hip so we will march in march even if we hobble against him for the rest of his term.

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