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Tag Archives: March In March

March in March 2017: Are You Angry Enough Yet?

Are you angry enough yet? That is the question March Australia would like to know. In 2017, March in March are taking it to the streets again!

In 2014, Tony Abbott and the Liberal National Coalition Government saw the anger well up in so many people and March in March took it to the streets. Three years later the Australian people are still angry and Malcolm Turnbull, like Tony Abbott before him, still does not have a positive or progressive agenda.

Although this morning on Twitter John Wren thinks he knows where the Prime Minister’s agenda might be. If only Irona was not on holidays! ????

The Liberal and National Coalition Government is still NOT listening to the people and March in March is BACK!

The Liberal Government has failed miserably under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull and the list of things the Australians are angry about is almost endless.

It is time to Stand Up Australia!  Instead, this year bring your best banners of Fizza, as the Lyin King has been removed and replaced! Thank you Australia! Give yourselves a round of applause!

How Many are YOU Angry About?

Here is the list presented by March in March as some of the things you may be angry about. If you are angry about any of these things, something else, or maybe just the flat-out incompetence of the Turnbull Coalition Government – then get amongst it. Boots on the ground people!

march-in-march-1

March in March – Get Involved Today!

Watch the Video below for how to get involved today; or visit the March Australia Activist Interchange Facebook Page:

 

What is the Point?

As we saw with the influence that marches like these had on the influence of the removal of Tony Abbott and the influence of pure people power to remove Campbell Newman from power in Queensland, with Labor and other parties taking 40 seats off the LNP Government. The removal of the Newman LNP Government freed Queenslanders from mass sackings, removal of civil liberties and the closure of many vital and important public and community services and the privatisation of our important assets.

Boots on the Ground does make a difference.  

Get involved today!

Originally published on The Red Window Blog

March in March

For those who want to express their displeasure with the direction this government is taking us, March in March is happening again on the weekend of 21/22 March.

This is especially important in NSW with the state election the following weekend.  The following is from the organisers of the Sydney March.

AHEAD OF THE NSW STATE ELECTION, SYDNEY WILL MARCH IN MARCH AGAIN! SUNDAY 22nd CBD 1PM

The people have spoken but the fight is far from over!

March in March is on again – an empowering day to unite with fellow Australians to call for a better government! Come and voice your concerns, stand up for what you believe in and demand better policy making now and for our future ahead of the NSW State Election on March 28th!

In March 2014 over 20,000 people joined us in Sydney to be counted. Are you ashamed of this government? Are you concerned about the direction our country is headed? JOIN US IN 2015!

Abbott may relinquish his leadership but the current government still has a lot to answer for and the buck stops with us! The people have been outspoken – so far cuts and changes to healthcare, welfare and education have been rejected but there is still much to fight for – ABC funding has been cut; the environment, science, climate change, the treatment of refugees and our indigenous people are among many issues which are dangerously disregarded; healthcare, welfare and education are under continual threat. Mining and environmentally destructive methods threaten our land while lining the pockets of those in power; our government ignores climate change and the needs of it’s people while the mainstream media pushes its own agenda…

The war has only been half won but we have their attention!

We want the government to listen to our demands for a fairer future for all!

JOIN US ON MARCH 22ND – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

 

Other marches that have been organised so far are listed below.

Perth : www.facebook.com/events/788089714593655

Adelaide: www.facebook.com/events/770422876358010

Sydney: www.facebook.com/events/369091693273364

Canberra: www.facebook.com/events/1554387471483989

Horsham: www.facebook.com/events/318807181658517

Albury/Wodonga: www.facebook.com/events/728018177319092

Bega Valley: www.facebook.com/marchaustraliabegavalley

Taree: www.facebook.com/events/1410121332632637

 

For updates the home page can be found here.

 

The purpose of March Australia: demanding change for the better

Why do we march against the Abbott Government? Admittedly marching will not change the government or the government’s ideology, but it will help to raise awareness of important issues and get people thinking, writes Gosford organiser Kym.

I first came across the March in March at the end of last year, but took my time in deciding whether or not I wanted to be involved in an organisational role. One thing lead to another, and . . .

I had never been to a rally in my life, let alone help organise one! I guess that up until then I had never been around the right people or groups to think about becoming more involved; not just about the march itself, but also with the issues we were marching for or against. I had seen the media bias and I had seen the damage this bias had caused; both at a personal level and towards our national psyche. I knew that we could never rely on the media to support our cause. That, however, is a different story.

I know we are a ‘lucky’ country lucky because we do not have war or famine and are free to choose our beliefs. However I know from experience, observation and plenty of research that this beautiful rich country does have some great inequalities and injustices. I know enough to not believe everything the media says and that things aren’t as simple as black/white or lefties and Tories. I found March in March appealing because it was not aligned with any political party, was grassroots and calling for decency, transparency and accountability in government.

I put my hand up to help organise the Gosford march, on the NSW Central Coast. After taking this step and setting up the Gosord Facebook page (now Central Coast), I felt a bit overwhelmed and thought to myself “what have I just done”? I did a call out on the page for volunteers and had a great response. I set up a Facebook group we could liaise in and this grew into countless nights organising the march and and promoting it via the social media.

The Gosford March in March was very successful, with an estimated 1200 people marching, which is amazing for Gosford and probably the largest rally Gosford has ever had. Nationwide we were 100,000 strong. Even though 50,000 marched in Melbourne and we were seemingly hard to ignore, the mainstream media still managed to ignore us.

I also went to March in May in Sydney and was part of the organising team for March in August on the Central Coast. I have to say all three Marches were a positive and inspiring experience. They were well-organised, peaceful, and had great, well-informed speakers. There were a wide range of people represented: young, old, students, professionals, disabled, and people from a range of political back grounds, including a few disgruntled LNP voters.

If you have never been to a rally or don’t know anything about rallies, then it is easy to misunderstand the purpose of the March Australia Marches and dismiss the people marching as just lefties having a whinge or people who want handouts. That way it can be brushed under the carpet instead of acknowledging that most people who marched are hardworking, educated people who have paid taxes their whole life. Many are either personally affected or know someone who is affected by the government’s policies.

Many who aren’t affected are informed enough to know what the impacts of theses policies are on the poor and our environment. It is a strange thing when some of the people, who are most informed, genuinely concerned, and trying to contribute to making change for the better, are the ones labelled as lefties or whingers. I am actually not a member of any political party. Personally, I think we need a third major party and also to make some changes to ‘the system’. I don’t like to talk endlessly about politics or push my beliefs on to people, although I have no problem standing up for social justice, inequality, human rights and the environment. For me it is not about political parties but about humanity, truth and doing what is right.

It is quite easy to get caught up in propaganda without any real knowledge or understanding of the issues, where we have deep-seated political beliefs that aren’t based on any facts or of any use in reality. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all take the time to do a bit of research, use intelligent evaluation and actually have an adult conversation about some of the issues and come together up with some better solutions? It is time to move beyond the sudden deadly silence when anything remotely political is mentioned. Why can’t we promote understanding and education on issues, instead of judgement and fear? It is mind-boggling to have an election based around ‘stop the boats’ and ‘axe the tax’.

Are Australian’s really so concerned about a small amount of asylum seekers that wouldn’t even fill the stadium at Homebush? Especially since most asylum seekers come by plane? Do we ever hear ‘stop the planes’? What about ‘stop the ignorance’ and ‘stop the fear mongering’? Using words like ‘leaners’ and ‘illegals’ does nothing to help people understand the situation. Why not tell people that ‘it is not illegal to seek asylum, whether by boat, plane or any other means necessary’, and that most boat people have proved to be genuine refugees? It even says so on the parliamentary website. Why pander to people’s fear and ignorance? This type of ignorance is being fueled by political ideology and the media. If people were a little more educated then they most probably would have a different view. More understanding does not necessarily mean open borders either. It means we can work together on creating a more humane policy.

Australia has a fairly well-targeted welfare system. It was created as a safety net for those who need it most. Yes there is plenty of room for improvement, but labeling people as ‘leaners’ or wanting handouts does not help at all. This type of attitude and labeling creates unnecessary stigma and actually demoralises people. Most people on welfare payments do not want to be on welfare. Newstart is way below the minimum wage and very difficult to live on. Most want a job and do not want to be in the position they are in. It is unfair to lump everyone together, just because a few take advantage of the system. There will always be people who take advantage of the system, who lie, who steal. There are unfortunately some people like these everywhere, and in every industry. This type of stigma is not fair on pensioners, the single parents, low income families, those who were made redundant, who have not enough jobs in their area, who are disabled, ill . . . the list goes on and on.

What ever happened to the view that those doing it tough were seen as ‘Aussie battlers’? Everyone wants to add their judgements and criticisms. Before passing judgement about certain groups of people, ask yourself: have I ever experienced, met, worked with or found out more information about asylum seekers, homeless people, unemployed or people with a disability? If the answer is no, then why do you have such strong opinions on something you have no experience with and know nothing about? I understand that some people aren’t into politics, especially since watching parliament can be like watching a high school rabble. It is quite easy to see that type of nonsense and decide not give a crap, because whatever I or say do is not going to make much difference any way. I am too busy; I have my own life to live. I have a roof over my head, I have friends, I have beer, and it doesn’t affect me. Why should I care? Why should I go marching around like an idiot for something that doesn’t affect me? Why don’t people just contribute to democracy with their vote at the next election? These are some of the attitudes and comments I have come across. Is it really so silly to take the time to do some research and have some discussion about what is happening in our country and our communities? Are we just supposed to stick our head in the sand like an ostrich and be oblivious to everything until next election rolls around? Does it not matter that the funds have been ripped out of vital community services? My electorate has high youth unemployment rate and the local youth refuge has lost its funding. Maybe these youths should go and get a job. Who cares if there are more unemployed than jobs available, they should all just get a job. Does it not matter that there are homeless families sleeping in cars because there is a lack of services to support the homeless? Maybe these homeless should just chose not to be homeless. Does it not matter that abuse, domestic violence, redundancy and mental health issues are some of the reasons for homelessness? Does it not matter that my electorate has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Australia, yet funding to one of our local domestic violence support services has been cut? Legal aid has also been cut, so it is harder for women who are victims of domestic violence to ‘leave’. These are just a few of the many Central Coast, NSW issues. I’m sure each electorate has their own issues.

Marching will not change the government or the government’s ideology, but it will help to raise awareness of important issues and get people thinking, talking and contributing new ideas. We can’t all help everyone all the time or change the world on our own. Every person’s input makes a difference and when working together we can make change. We can all make the effort to question things and become a little more informed. This is the whole point of marching; to raise awareness and in unity work together for the common good: Australians. The more people that become aware, the more likely change will happen.

March in March Seeks Online Volunteers

Got some spare time and want and want to help the March in March team? Then this message from Loz Lawrey is for you.

I’m a helper with the March in March Australia people’s movement, part of a small team that provides admin support and assistance to over 40 regional groups working under the banner of “The People United For Better Government”.

If you followed the March in March rallies you’ll know that we strive to provide a platform for all people to speak out on their issues of concern, and with this current government there are more than ever!

Recently our team has lost some members who’ve had to scale back their involvement for personal reasons.

Many hands make light work, they say, and we’re hoping to share the load among more volunteers so that we can all experience more balance (and sanity) in our lives.

We are looking for help from people with the following skills:

  • Technical/internet/social media
  • Art and graphics
  • Secretarial/clerical

Ongoing work includes: Facebook support, admin, clerical work (eg. mailouts), meme-making, info sharing etc, in fact anything and everything that oils the machinery of this movement and helps to maintain our network.

If you’d like to contribute a few hours of your time and energy each week your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please email us at March Australia: info@marchaustralia.com

Protest Australia

Protest AustraliaIt’s glaringly obvious that Australians in their thousands have had enough of the incompetent yet unconscionable Abbott Government.

And they’ve voiced their disapproval.

This year we’ve seen the successful March in March where over 100,000 people took to the streets in a nationwide protest, and more recently the March in May were people also took to the streets in some major cities (with more planned later this year). Social and independent media sites have been filled with the shocking truths about this government, and finally, since the budget (some sections of) the mainstream media have also joined in on outrage.

And the voices of disapproval don’t look like stopping.

Which brings us to Protest Australia; the organisers of which have asked if we would issue this statement on their behalf:

A national action protest day will be held on the 24th of June. The purpose of this action is to call for the removal of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. We will also be calling for transparency in politics and policies that uphold the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The protest will involve action such as marches and rallies around the country as well as a call out for a 24 hour national strike. We will be encouraging those who are unable to strike or rally to show support via a letter writing campaign and displaying signs at private residences and businesses.

The budget proposed by Tony Abbott is based on lies and does not benefit the Australian people. It is our belief that the policies of the current government were not disclosed with clarity during the election. This has interfered with the process of democracy as people did not get what they voted for. We are calling for transparency in all aspects of government in order to protect the administrative effectiveness of our democracy.

We ask that all Australians put aside political affiliations and stand for the people. This is not a normal Liberal budget and it comes with many discriminatory, harmful policy changes. This is an attack on the Australian way of life. If this budget is passed it will be the end of the lucky country, the end of the fair go and the end of Australia as we know it.

Details of events that have currently been organised are available here (https://www.facebook.com/events/660780343970691/669984033050322/). Our aim is to hold protest marches and rallies in every Australian city and town. New events will be announced on this page as they are released. We are encouraging non violent forms of protest only.

Disclaimer: Some people may argue that it is unconstitutional to call for the removal of a ‘duly’ elected prime minister. And some people may argue that a call for a national strike might do nothing but inconvenience thousands of people who rely on essential services. But it is hard to argue that this government has not lost the respect and support of millions of Australians and it is their right to show their disapproval in the direction the government is leading this country.

 

March in May

MiM SWMarch in March saw tens of thousands of disenchanted voters take to the streets across Australia in protest against the Abbott Government. But it was just the beginning. After the marchers had dispersed, the anger at the government still simmered.

Now the people are marching again.

The AIMN has been contacted by the organisers to promote the next instalment: March in May.

This we are more than happy to do.

After March in March many in the mainstream media ridiculed it as nothing more than a rabble. It was just a group of lefties, they mused, coming along for the walk and waving a placard.

March in May will have a clear message (see list below). The media will know why people are marching. It would be foolhardy to ignore it.

Here is the promo The AIMN received:

Media Diary, Sydney Event Alert for May 18 2014
MARCH IN MAY TO TAKE PLACE SYDNEY, ADELAIDE AND PERTH
SUNDAY MAY 18TH 1PM

MARCH IN MARCH saw over 110,000 Australians rally together across 33 locations to express their concern and disdain for the policies of the current government. This grass-roots movement gave a voice to a broad demographic including the elderly, young families, first-time activists, long-time activists and even Liberal voters.

This event was a positive, empowering and uplifting exercise in unity and democracy attracting a range of speakers from many walks of life. To follow on from its growing success, there will be a snap demonstration to register public objection to the ongoing irresponsible and dangerous decisions of our current Federal Government and the impending budgetary announcement – Sydney, Adelaide and Perth will again MARCH IN MAY 2014.

What exactly are we marching for? Better policy making NOW and better governance long-term; transparency, accountability, ethics and equity. We want a progressive Australia which reflects the open-minded, conscientious and intelligent nature of its citizens.

Core areas of concern include:
– Education (cuts to funding and new fees)
– Public services (healthcare, welfare, ABC & SBS funding cuts, the National Broadband Network)
– Environmental Issues (animal rights, climate change, dredging of the Great Barrier Reef, logging of heritage-listed forests, coal seam gas and mining)
– Human Rights (asylum seeker rights, indigenous issues, women’s issues, worker’s rights)
– The Economy (anti-Trans Pacific Partnership)
– Corruption within the government and pandering to corporations
– Political bias in the media.

MARCH IN MAY – SYDNEY SUNDAY MAY 18th
BELMORE PARK, CBD
AN EXCITING LIST OF GUEST SPEAKERS AND PERFORMERS TO BE ANNOUNCED

The message was delivered: no confidence in the Abbott Government whatsoever

A Statement of No Confidence in the Abbott Government has been delivered to the Australian Parliament as a message from the 100,000 people who took part in the March in March. And, writes MiM organiser Loz Lawrey, “As the intensity of the public’s dissatisfaction with this toxic government continues to grow, the message will be delivered again and again, over and over”.

“Let it be known, and entered into the public record, that on this day, Monday 17 March 2014, the People of Australia delivered this document to the Parliament of Australia.”

On a sunny Monday in March, a delegation of Australians presented a handwritten parchment to Adam Bandt, the Federal Member for Melbourne, at Parliament house in Canberra.

Adam had graciously agreed to accept the Statement of No Confidence and present it to Parliament on behalf of the more than 100,000 people around the country who attended the March in March rallies protesting the governance of the Liberal/National Coalition.

A few days later Senator Scott Ludlum attempted to table the Statement in the Senate, but sadly the tabling was disallowed on a technicality. Such a document had never been presented before, and the Abbott government narrowly avoided the need to officially respond.

The March in March 2014 Statement of No Confidence in the Liberal/National Coalition Government From the People of Australia was written and rewritten, passing through one set of hands and then another, from laptop to smartphone to desktop screen, added to and tweaked, then jigged and rejigged until it truly was a document “of the people”.

Those of us who took part in this joyous assertion of public sentiment knew all along that successful tabling and debating of this document was unlikely, since it didn’t fit the strict layout and presentation requirements for a petition and had no supporting signatures attached.

We also knew that petitions, even if they are tabled, are easily dismissed and require hundreds of thousands of signatures if they are to achieve any sort of real acknowledgment or response.

The Statement of No Confidence did not protest any single issue and made no demand for any particular outcome. With or without signatures the Statement was, and remains, an overarching assertion of public disapproval of this government’s decisions and the direction in which Abbott and his cronies are taking our country.

Although not yet officially tabled, the document still entered the public record via media news cameras and print coverage.

Despite the Abbott government’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the March rallies, it is aware of the Statement’s existence, and of its contents – the marchers’ message of No Confidence was delivered.

For the government and its cheer-squad in the mainstream media, a head-in-the-sand avoidance of the rallies and the Statement was the only possible response. To respond otherwise was to risk a humiliation even deeper than the serial embarrassments brought on daily by the public utterances of Abbott and his ministers, blithely reported by so many journalists.

The rallies that took place around Australia were a clear demonstration that there is great opposition to the ideologically-driven agenda of the Abbott government and that there is ever-growing public consternation (note the current polls) at the obvious attempts at social engineering, the blatant suppression of information, the retreat from transparency and accountability, the rorting and trough-snouting, as well as the lies and broken promises.

Oh, and it seems that some people are worried about the attacks on democracy and human rights, the abuse and mistreatment of refugee asylum seekers, the dismantling of environmental regulation and general trashing of our natural environment, the assault on wages and entitlements, and the closing down or defunding of every institution and organisation established to support and inform the public interest.

The lugubrious, repetitive pronouncements from “Smokey Joe” Hockey, whose pants seem to occasionally ignite and smoulder (leading to on-camera sweating and obvious discomfort), are grooming us for an austerity regime the like of which Australia has never seen. Let’s not forget that Abbott considers Maggie Thatcher a mentor to emulate.

Our country is suffering a concerted attack, by a government owned by vested interests, upon our vision of ourselves as a nation respected by the rest of the world for upholding standards of fairness and decency at home and abroad.

Thanks to Abbott and his cronies we are now viewed with global contempt – a xenophobic, racist raft of white supremacists floating in the Pacific, abusing all who come near. How have we allowed this perception of our multicultural society to take root and grow? Is this the reality?

Australia has never managed to grasp the opportunity afforded by the coming-together of our immigrant society (which includes most of us) and the First Australians whose land it is, to create an exemplary modern society of equals and forge a new history, free from the constraints, mistakes and influences of the past. Instead we import the dumbed-down culture of the deeply dysfunctional United States, ignoring the wealth of world culture that permeates our society.

Once, we were known as the land of the Fair Go. That’s right, the Fair Go. Sadly, according to Smokey Joe, the Fair Go gave us all a sense of “entitlement” which was simply not sustainable. So the Fair Go, and along with it all sense of decency and righteousness, of empathy and inclusiveness, must be swept aside to balance the books and satisfy the “bottom line”.

Apparently this will elevate us to the transcendent, nirvana-like state of “surplus”, despite the fact that many Australians will endure lives of misery and hardship in the process.

Conservative governments notoriously and conveniently ignore human suffering, dismissing any concept of social justice and equity, and reducing the discussion of public affairs to a mathematical equation of dollars and cents.

Only the elements of profit and loss are factored in, while the values and considerations of human hearts and minds, of skills, knowledge, intelligence, understanding and caring ( the very stuff of life) are sent to the margins.

And nowhere on the page is there any reference to the common, or public good.

Somehow it comes about that government of humans by humans no longer regards the human condition itself as relevant in the decision-making process.

Somehow the dollar, the measure of greed, becomes not just one factor among others, but the only consideration. A perversion of governance becomes entrenched in our system which government messaging and media manipulation grooms us to accept as the norm.

The marchers who attended the March rallies told their stories through the number and diversity of messages on the placards expressing community concerns and through the words of those who spoke. The Statement of No Confidence is the symbolic summary of those concerns.

The marches and rallies will continue. This people’s movement will grow. Already Marches are planned for Sydney, Adelaide and Perth for Sunday 18 May, while regional marches around the nation will take place at the end of August.

As the intensity of the public’s dissatisfaction with this toxic government continues to grow, the message will be delivered again and again, over and over.

And one day soon, to use the religious imagery favoured by Abbott, Australians will be delivered from evil.

Statement Of No Confidence Large

A statement of no confidence in the Abbott Government (image courtesy of Loz Lawrey)

The Wheat and the Chessboard

Image courtesy of abc.net.au

Image courtesy of abc.net.au

As this government goes from bad to worse it appears that they have no vision. Sadly they do, suggests regular guest writer Sean Stinson. Their plan is simple: slash and burn. 

They certainly are out of control if that is their aim.

Sean urges that the momentum from the March in March needs to be not only maintained, but taken to a higher level.

So it looks like there is going to be a March in May. I’d have to say I’m a little apprehensive – or maybe just lacking in confidence. The March in March was an unprecedented display of people power, with over 100 000 of us taking to the streets across the country, and although largely ignored by mainstream media, it’s something our grassroots movement can be rightly proud of. Can we do it bigger and better in May?

The only shadow of doubt I have is that March was perhaps some kind of social anomaly, a novelty which may not bear repetition. Nonetheless I remain hopeful. I have hope because I know it takes a special commitment to participate in a public protest. I am no role model. Until March I hadn’t been to a protest since Iraq II. Back then it was to send a message to the government that we wanted no part in Bush’s unjust war. Twelve years on and we are protesting a whole range of issues. We want compassion and open borders. We want gender equality. We want protection for our oceans, forests and aquifers. We want jobs, education and healthcare. We want our government to direct its focus away from continued reliance on fossil fuels and to get behind a clean energy industry that has the potential create massive employment with minimal ecological impact. (Seriously, who hasn’t thought about this?). Some have criticised the March in March for having a lack of focus. I could not disagree more. Our message is loud and clear: The Abbott Government is not acting for the common good of the free and sovereign people of Australia.

Some have argued that this government never really had a plan beyond winning the election and punishing Labor. I think otherwise. We’ve seen six months of economic slash and burn. Their actions to date have been to talk down the economy to justify savage cuts in public spending, while talking up the ‘issues’ (carbon tax, mining tax, boats) to fuel public opinion. Driven by the blind ideology of market supremacy, they plan to sell off all our public assets, carve up our natural resources and sell them to the highest (foreign) bidder, while attacking wages and conditions at home to effectively create a new class of working poor. It is Thatcherism plain and simple, and we all know how that worked out.

Don’t be fooled. Operation Sovereign Borders is a fireworks display. Royal commissions and Knights and Dames are political noise. MYEFO was the official launch for another political lie. Apparently we now have a $667bn gross debt. (“Product image for illustration purposes only. Actual product may vary”). The actual figure is $123bn, which in a $1.5tr economy amounts to about approximately 8.2% of GDP – I wish my personal debt was as low. Abbott says he wants to raise defence spending to a whopping 2% of GDP, while Hockey tells us we can’t afford Medicare. Where is the sense in this?

You should be concerned. This government is out of control. Legalising hate-speech (repealing section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act), repealing the Future of Financial Advice laws, and dissolving the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission were not policies anyone voted for at the last election. Nor was signing off on preferential trade agreements giving foreign corporations the right to challenge our laws and sue our government for lost profits. We are starting to see responses from all sectors of the community and there is a foul mood in the air. This government has really managed to piss off a lot of people in just six months in office. It’s not news that the ‘haves’ in our society suddenly outnumber the ‘have nots’; it’s been that way for centuries. The news is that Abbott and his mates have gone too far in too short a time and people are waking up to them. The government stinks, and the peasants are revolting [sic].

Revolutions throughout history have been violent and bloody. Fortunately we don’t need a revolution, because we already live in a democracy. What we do need is to send a strong and clear message to the government and let them know just who is in charge. Governments have a mandate to govern for the good of the people, not to outsource responsibility to free markets, and certainly not to take away our liberties. We are already seeing our rights eroded at state level. Victoria and Queensland have both passed new laws threatening freedom of assembly and freedom of association. There is a wave of rightwing thuggery spreading like cancer though our whole political system, and we need to put an end to it now. We can’t afford to wait till the next election. At the rate we’re going in three years time there may be nothing left to save. To borrow a few words from a fellow flag waving leftie, we need another Protest in April, a May Moratorium, a campaign of Justice in June and July, Action in August, a Solidarity Walk in September, Opposition in October, Say No in November, and a Double Dissolution in December.

I am reminded of the mathematical problem of the wheat and the chessboard, and wonder if this simple formula could not also be applied to taking back our country? Imagine if everyone who marched in March brought someone else along in May, be it a friend, family member, work colleague or a stranger. Do you see where I’m going with this? We’ll take to the streets in regular protests calling for equality, sustainability and accountability. And if we are serious, by December we will be over a million strong, and then we will call for a dismissal. Maybe even a long overdue Bill of Rights.

 

Protesting for protesting sake?

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

Tracie Aylmer attended the Villawood protest yesterday. Tracie is a migration agent and solicitor who comes into regular contact with asylum seekers. In this guest post she expresses her disappointed at the behaviour of many of the protesters whose behaviour, she laments, did nothing for the cause of those in detention.

I have only been to two protests in my entire life.

The first protest was a few weeks ago – the March In March. It was so well organised, that people respected not only themselves, but others and the police. There were no arrests, even with the tens of thousands of people who marched with me.

The second was yesterday – on 5 April 2014 – at Villawood Detention Centre.

Before I go into detail in relation to my experiences of the asylum seeker protest, I think I should explain who the asylum seekers are. I am in constant contact with the Hazara community. They are peaceful, gentle and very respectful members of our community. They do not like to fight, which is why so many are tortured and/or die at the hands of the Taliban in areas such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. They actually refuse to fight back!

My contacts in the Hazara community saw the video (now made private) that was recorded yesterday. Their direct response, and I am quoting, is “it is not good”. They were very disappointed that so many people were behaving as they were in that video.

Due to these very lovely people, who have accepted me with open arms into their community, I respect everything they do and say. They are very gentle, and do not believe that people should be deliberately trying to become arrested in their name.

I cannot say how asylum seekers in Villawood Detention Centre would have reacted to the fact that people were arrested in their name, but if they are anything like my contacts in the Hazara community they would have felt ashamed.

Being vocal would have helped them realise that there are people outside of Villawood Detention Centre who do care for them, but ignoring police direction and going so far as to kick and punch police officers for doing their job goes above and beyond.

I believe some police officers do create ‘ultra vires’ moments. There’s little doubt of that – particularly considering why ICAC was formed.

But, the directive to move the asylum seekers came from far higher than the authority given to the police officers who were there yesterday. They obeyed orders. They did not make the orders. The buses were going to leave anyway. No matter what.

This government cannot ‘stop the boats’. That much is obvious, even if we now don’t hear about it. So what makes anyone on that day think they can ‘stop the buses’? Especially those officers that were there yesterday.

The police asked for people to move to the footpath. Considering the footpath is quite large, it sounded like a reasonable request. People could have been just as vocal on the footpath, as they were on the road. It didn’t matter where, as long as the people were vocal.

The police then said to the mothers for asylum seekers group that if people did not move onto the footpath, there would be every reason for the police to move people to the end of the street. Since the mothers were there to say goodbye to their long time friends (the asylum seekers), people should have listened to the mothers. The mothers were gentle and caring ladies, who deserved respect. They were near tears, as the connections formed were bonding. They saw the writing on the wall – the buses were going to leave anyway, and this was their last chance to say goodbye.

As it happened, no one was moved to the end of the street. Everyone stayed where they were.

People started speaking about their experiences. One of the mothers told about her experiences. Everyone was quiet and respectful for each person on the microphone. Then, a police officer wanted to talk. He was drowned out by protesters chanting the same chant over and over.

A short time later, a man came up to us and told us that people should have a right to be on the street if they wished. He said the protest was proper and people also had a right to talk. One of the mothers then asked “so why wasn’t the police officer then allowed to talk?”. We both then decided to ignore him.

Shortly after this, and after a few hours of being there, I had to leave for personal reasons. A police officer escorted me to my vehicle. He was kindly and respectful, as I showed respect. He said he was only doing his job, as told by higher authorities. I said I was only there for the asylum seekers.

I was not there at the period of time when the protesters and police clashed. I am grateful that I wasn’t. This was not what I signed up for. I wanted to show the asylum seekers I was there for them. Instead, I had a protester tell me that I was selfish. I was told that I shouldn’t be there for me. It made me wonder – who was I there for, then? Because I certainly wasn’t there for the protesters!

Protesting in order to create ugly clashes with the police does nothing for the cause. It only shows those who vote LNP what they want to hear about asylum seekers – that perhaps they should be feared after all. Showing lack of respect for the police also shows lack of respect for the asylum seekers. They would not want people being injured or arrested in their name. It would make them feel guilty.

So to all the people who showed up to protest, and were in that video kicking, screaming and punching the police, who were you actually protesting for? If the asylum seekers don’t want to see this sort of thing going on, then is it really worth being arrested? Isn’t this the sort of mob mentality that the LNP are notorious for?

Isn’t this the sort of thing that the LNP staunch supporters would want to see?

Perhaps if we all calmed down and became as respectful as the asylum seekers, then all our protests would have the same tinge as one of the most successful protests in Australia in decades – the March In March.

Glimpses of the Real Tony Abbott

Image courtesy of canberratimes.com.au

Image courtesy of canberratimes.com.au

Tony Abbott reveals much about the man behind the public persona – unknowingly – whenever he speaks. Peter Barnes looks at Tony Abbott’s recent interview with Michelle Grattan, where glimpses of the man – the real Tony Abbott – came to the surface.

Michelle Grattan’s interview with the Prime Minister produced some more intimate glimpses of the PM than we normally get during the heavily scripted and rehearsed interviews on the news.

Here are some I thought revealing.

The first glimpse was of a PM who is still in Opposition. When asked about his experience of the job he answered a different question and said:

Hopefully the people’s experience of the new government will be that it’s competent and considered, trustworthy and candid, in a way that the former government wasn’t.

In general people seem to think that this continuing obsession with the previous government represents a failure by the PM to switch to governing, however after six months I think it’s much more likely to be a deliberate strategy. Whether accidental or deliberate, it’s not what we want from the leader of our Government.

The second glimpse was of a generation gap. You only have to look at a photo of the cabinet to understand that if you’re middle-aged or older, white, male, healthy and well off you’re well represented by this government. Otherwise, your mileage will vary. However this glimpse reveals a PM who clearly has never used social media, and really doesn’t understand social media. Why? Because although it might seem trivial, he says:

The thing about social media is that it is anonymous

With that single, massive misunderstanding, he goes on to dismiss social media as:

kind of like electronic graffiti

In this way, the infrastructure that lay behind Occupy, Arab Spring, March in March and numerous other popular movements is pigeonholed in the PM’s mind as trivial vandalism. This, from the PM who wants to be “the infrastructure PM”, but who totally misunderstands a major piece of the single most important piece of infrastructure – the internet – to be built in the last twenty years.

The third glimpse is, I will admit, pure snark on my part. The PM can’t add up to six. When asked about fatigue, he says:

Yes, but I’m lucky in that I’ve got quite a bit of stamina, Michelle. I don’t need more than six hours sleep a night . . . I can bound out of bed at five o’clock in the morning . . . I find I can go through the day till about ten o’clock pretty comfortably.

Mr. Prime Minister, from ten to five is seven hours. Churchill, you’re not.

The next glimpse is more conventional, of a politician buffing and polishing the facade. Asked whether he has informal “sounding boards”, he nominates, amongst others, the fire brigade he serves with. That certainly sounds like an admirable man, serving his community and staying in touch with people from all walks of life. So how often does he consult the firies? Well, he says he spent two shifts with them in October (resulting in blanket coverage of the PM in firefighting gear), and since then he has had just two additional shifts. That’s two shifts in five months. Mr Prime Minister, can we just admit you dragged the fire brigade into the conversation by their yellow braces, and they’re no more a sounding board for you than the members of Destroy the Joint?

The same goes for the rather bizarre answer to Grattan’s question about the most rewarding areas of the job:

. . . contact with the military at every level, from the service chiefs to the squadies that I’ve been lucky enough to do PT with, has been a special highlight

This sounds like another case of a topic being dragged in, kicking and screaming, by the epaulettes. Can you imagine the pre-election interview:

“Mr. Abbott, why do you want to be PM?”

“I want to be PM because it will allow me contact with the military at every level, including doing star jumps with squaddies”

“???”

The next glimpse is telling, and disturbing. When asked from whom he gets advice, the PM nominates a number of people and groups (including the firefighters). When he’s finished, Grattan observes:

Michelle Grattan: You didn’t mention the public service in that list.

Tony AbbottOf course I should have, but in the end the public service is there to implement the policies of the government as well as to offer frank and fearless advice.

In other words, in the PM’s mind the Public Service is there to do as it’s told. He’s not even slightly interested in their advice, in any form. The PM’s clear contempt for expert advice that doesn’t match his already held beliefs is well documented. He has already abolished a number of expert bodies, and has dismissed advice from people and groups eminent in many fields, simply because it isn’t what he wanted to hear. That is a very dangerous trait in someone who should freely acknowledge their own limited expertise in practically all subjects, and whose contribution should be in listening, then balancing needs and demands for the greatest good of the nation.

However the most revealing glimpse is the last. Again, it reveals a PM still trying to portray himself as battling in Opposition, rather than governing. It reveals a PM still talking in three-word slogans. It reveals a PM who can apparently simultaneously claim to have stopped the boats, and yet still not have stopped the boats. It reveals a PM whose every achievement is defined in terms of stopping and undoing.

It reveals a PM completely devoid of vision. Here are his absolute top priorities for Australia in the next twelve months.

Michelle Grattan: Just finally, if you were to fast forward a year, what are the three things you would most like to have achieved by this time 12 months on?

Tony Abbott: We’ve got to stop the boats, get the budget under control and repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax. They’re the things that we have to get done in these first 12 months.

This article was first posted on Peter’s blog “infinite8horizon” and reproduced with permission.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’infinite8horizo’ show_count =’yes’]

If you want my vote

Image courtesy of facebook.com

Image courtesy of facebook.com

In this guest post contriteshadow tells us why she participated in the March in March. More than just being one of the tens of thousands who marched simply to express a dislike of the Abbott Government, she marched because of the the social and community issues that concern her. They are issues worth voting for.

I am an Australian voter.

Other than that, I don’t think there is anything extraordinary about me. I didn’t finish college. I am not rich, by this country’s standards, and do not seek fame. I have an ordinary job, and been with the same employer since 1989. I’ve (with my husband) raised two kids to adults that I’m proud to claim as part of my loving family. I’ve been married, for almost thirty years, to the only man I’ve ever been in love with; the best man I know. I’m not suffering. I have, of course, but that was so long ago it’s no longer even a painful memory. I’m not religious, but don’t have a problem if you are, so long as you offer me the same courtesy. Though I always vote, I’m not affiliated with any party, and would be shocked to hear the word “political” used to describe me…mostly “nice”, I suspect. I have a good life; economically, emotionally, physically, spiritually. Seriously, I have no complaints. I’m happy. And the last time I publicly protested anything, I was a minor.

So, if I’m not suffering and have spent a lifetime avoiding the spotlight, why did I “MarchInMarch”? My reasons are, in no particular order:

EDUCATION: Though I haven’t bothered to achieve a tertiary education, I want every single child in this country to have that chance; not just the ones who have money to spare or live near a major city. If children (some of them made their own protest placards) can work out that decent, affordable education is a necessity that should be a right in this country, surely the rest of us can, too?

ASYLUM SEEKERS: Though I will never, I sincerely hope, know the horror of war, famine or violent persecution, I would never refuse to help someone who has. Yes, quarantine asylum seekers while their needs and refugee status are assessed, but do so with compassion, not cruelty. And, in the name of common decency, do so for a finite period of time. You know things are bad when China (globally infamous for human rights violations) has criticized this country, my “lucky” country, for their treatment of refugees. Just do it better; that’s all I’m asking. Oh, if you approved of “Stop the boats”, look into how much extra it’s costing to have them processed overseas; you’re paying for it.

HOMELESS: Though I’ve never been homeless, I know that fellow countrymen—yes; women and children, too—endure such hardship, because I occasionally see them living near my house. If you stop to chat with them, you might meet me; I’m the one bringing them food, clothing and bedding. Not because a god is compelling me, or a government paying me, but because I cannot do otherwise. None of the few displaced people I’ve met have chosen that life (as our Prime Minister once suggested), and they gratefully accept the first opportunity to get out of that desperate situation.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Though I’m not gay, I am furious and mystified by the fact that, in this century, homosexuals (and the relevant initials) still do not have the same rights as other voters; refused (by law) permission to marry or adopt. And, no matter how else they’ve conducted themselves throughout their lives, being gay is enough that, in the twilight of their years, they might (again, legally) be refused aged care. This one is particularly painful for me, because one of my brothers is gay and just about the sweetest guy you could ever meet. Yes, he marched; for “equal rights”. Look at those words. Does it seem like a lot to ask?

CLIMATE CHANGE: Though I am not a scientist, I can read. So, when I learn that an overwhelming majority of the entire world’s scientists believe climate change is the biggest problem facing this planet, and that humans can reduce the severity of it, I paid attention. Apparently, our elected leader doesn’t agree. That doesn’t bother you? You don’t have children, who might have children, who will almost (a little skepticism is a good thing) certainly inherit the disastrous consequences of our reckless actions? It scares the shit out of me, and I’m not often afraid.

INDIGENOUS RIGHTS: (My sincere apologies, that I neglected to add this to my placard. The fact that you’re used to being ignored does not excuse my oversight.) Though most of my ancestors are buried in a different country, I respect and admire our indigenous population; not all of them, obviously. That would be folly. But many of them set an example I’m proud to emulate, and I’m glad they received an official apology from our elected representative. I’m just ashamed that they continue to suffer; marginalized in their own homeland. Yes; shame. That’s what I feel about his subject. I’m not used to that feeling, but perhaps I should get used to it.

MILITARY FAMILIES: Though I have not fought in a war, and never intend to, I am proud of our armed forces; competently doing what they can to protect me, my country and the idea of democratic freedom. They deserve our respect and, as a small token of that respect, they deserve money from our pockets. Here’s that shame feeling again when I remember that children of fallen soldiers are now getting less compensation for that staggering loss, for which there can be no real compensating. Moving on, before I weep . . .

NATIONAL BROADBAND NETWORK (NBN): Though I have fast, affordable internet, not every Australian does. It’s 2014, right? Yet in a first (?) world country like Australia, access to fast, affordable internet is at least partly determined by geography. In remote areas (of course, most of this country), the only option for many is the foreign owned Foxtel. Would you want your access to information determined by those who don’t even live here? I sure as hell wouldn’t, and I don’t expect anyone else to have to put up with it, either.

HEALTHCARE: Though I am healthy—rarely even visiting my GP—I know that some voters struggle with illness or injury for extended periods of time; some their entire life. Of course money is going to determine your level of health care; not an easy fact to face, but a fact nonetheless. And I’m realistic enough to accept that. But, at the very least, every single Australian—impoverished and wealthy—should…no, must have access to adequate care. No cuts to healthcare, as promised; that’s all I’m asking.

AUSTRALIAN MINING, AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (ABC), AUSTRALIA POST, TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP): I know; a lot of titles, and I did some serious pruning to limit it to these few. And they basically boils down to one concern; how much of Australian’s businesses are now, or will become, foreign owned and/or influenced. I, personally, don’t have a problem with the incredibly wealthy. I’m doing quite well, thank you, and don’t fear becoming poor. I’ve been there and it wasn’t so bad. And I’m all for diversity and global trade; genuinely believe we’d be worse off without it. However, I have a big problem with someone sitting in another country having a say in what happens here. You think they don’t? Then you haven’t been paying attention. There are other concerns within this one, about the dangers of privatizing businesses that, by their very nature, need to serve the average Australian. But, given how things are going, I’m not sure the average Australian cares.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I was quiet while the current government (either deliberately or obliviously; both are sins when you run a country) damaged relations with our nearest (geographically speaking) neighbours. But it was a young friend of mine in Canada who made me realize how bad things have become, via a throwaway comment about Australia becoming a worldwide joke. With, at the time what I thought was justified national pride, I retaliated . . . also with gentleness and humor; see above, “nice”. But she’s right, and things have deteriorated since then. Perhaps my concern for asylum seekers will soon become redundant; if we upset enough foreign leaders, maybe no one will bother trying to seek refuge here.

ANIMAL WELFARE: Though I don’t expect any fellow human to put the welfare of other (yes, we’re animals, too) animals above that of men, women and children, I ask only that you not treat the creatures you eat with barbaric cruelty while they’re alive. If we must have live animal export (and I still don’t understand why), please do so with compassion. In case you’re wondering, I’m a vegetarian, partly on compassionate grounds, but don’t expect or even ask anyone to follow my example. I’ll even cook you a lamb roast if you visit. Improvements have been made on this issue. But, as my brother often reminds me, just because things could be worse, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be better.

WOMEN: I’m not ostentatiously feminine or feminist. When I was ordered, at the age of ten, to never play footy with my (male) classmates again, I—though mystified—calmly accepted that decision. After all, I was a child, and one raised to believe that an adult’s word is law . . . though I’m not sure it was, even then. When I was declared ineligible to join my small (very small) town’s cricket team, on the grounds that one of the men might get hit in the groin and be embarrassed if a young woman was on the field, I smiled and took on the challenge of tallying the score for them instead. Every time a colleague is overtly sexist, I quietly and politely (perhaps a mistake) call them on it, and they apologise; it’s been working pretty well for me. But when the elected leader of our country says—actually says—that women are inherently incapable of achieving the same as a man, that “withholding sex” is a right that needs to be moderated, visibly and actively supports a blatantly sexist campaign against an opponent, and is now in charge of whether or not I get an abortion, it becomes an issue worthy of space on a protest placard. Again, in case you’re wondering on this polarizing issue, I cannot imagine a scenario in which I’d choose an abortion, but I would brave the barricades with you if you made that choice.

ENVIRONMENT: You’re curious what that one other protest was against? The Franklin Dam project in Tasmania. I know, even though I was not yet old enough to vote at the time, some will read that and think “another left-wing radical”. But I’m just as likely to vote right-wing, if their campaign sways me…though I liked the old Liberal Party more than this Coalition Party, but I understand why they did that. Anyway, my simplified point on this issue is that, if we don’t think before destroying vast swathes of old growth forest, this wide, brown land will get browner. I almost went with “I can’t believe we’re still protesting this shit” as my placard, but there are fresh issues exclusive to our current government that urgently need addressing . . . even so, I can’t believe we’re still protesting this shit. Just like with most of these issues, there’s heaps more to be said on this subject, but a couple of minutes and a browser window will find people better qualified to do so.

MEDIA BIAS: This one is a new concern of mine; since I marched, in fact. Of course I’ve heard this cry for—to be completely honest—decades. But, until I marched with tens of thousands of other voters, didn’t know that this particular “whinge” was justified. And the frustrating thing is, now that I know about it, what can I do with that information? If you were at the marches, you’d already know what I’m talking about. And, if you weren’t, and miraculously heard about them anyway, there’s no way you’d believe me . . . I didn’t, until I saw it with my own eyes. Has it always been this bad, though; journalists using colleagues’ coverage as their only apparent source of information? They’re in the business, so they must know that a report is rarely the whole truth. I’m not ashamed about this, I’m embarrassed; of them and for them. Anyway, enough on that; we no longer need them.

So now you know some of the domestic issues that concern this ordinary Australian. I cannot give you one issue I care about the most, because I care about them all. And I am (as accused by several dissenters) asking for a handout, but not for myself, just for those who need it. And I acknowledge (as did my extremely polite placard, which never made it into any news report) that not all of our many problems can be laid at the feet of our current government; they’re just not helping, and (I believe) actually making things worse . . . and don’t they seem in a bloody big hurry to do so? That’s why I joined my second ever protest march, only months into this current government’s reign; they’re clearly trying very hard to quickly achieve an agenda that was kept from us at the last election.

And I’m not suggesting that you vote for the only other real option in a two party political system . . . research that term, if you haven’t already. I’m just asking you, begging you, to remember that the only real power we have is at the polling booth. Think, read, ask (“How?” and “Why?” are excellent places to start) and, above all, insist that your (because it’s no one else’s choice) candidate is worthy of your vote. And don’t stop doing so, even if it seems like you’re not making a difference. This is a democracy; only you can make a difference.

This articled was first published on contriteshadow’s  blog as “Why did I MarchinMarch?”

Faces in the crowd: Melbourne #MarchinMarch

Photo: Labor View From Bayside

Photo: Labor View From Bayside

The Marches in March continue to glow with controversy. Never did so few gather so many, without engaging the usual suspects of the old media, the political parties, NGOs, the unions and the activist groups. There had to be a dark side to these events. The people can’t have minds of their own! Or if they do they must be warped!

Tim Dunlop has joined the fray with a post at The Drum: Rage against the mainstream

The fact is, the media’s lame response to an estimated 100,000 citizens showing up on the streets around the country is indicative of a deeper malaise: the rules of news have changed, and increasingly legacy media companies have neither the capacity nor the wit to operate in the new environment.

His target was the Sydney Morning Herald’s Jacqueline Maley.

Tim’s piece follows Lyndon Morley spirited offence at Independent Australia in support of his sign RESIGN DICKHEAD! He was replying to Andrew Bolt’s slanted reporting at the Herald Sun. Bolt was comparing the remarks about Abbott with those of Alan Jones about Julia Gillard. As usual he saw red: “But who will apologise for the parade of hatred in today’s March in March?” He found what he was looking for, of course.

I’ll leave jousting with the black knight of bigotry to Lyndon.

Matthew Donovan tackled The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair over what he called “delusions and blind or wilful ignorance” on AIMN on Wednesday. His message: “I will not let you smear the good people who marched”.

I’ll just stick to what I saw and heard in my hometown. To flip the record, I’ve compiled some offcuts that didn’t make my original video piece on the Melbourne #MarchinMarch, not for the signs of the times but for the faces of the people:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK7o7_EgpdI]

One of the more appealing aspects of the Melbourne march was the signs. By and large, they were not offensive. Some seemed to have gone to extremes to be polite:

Kindness matters!

Not Happy Tony.

We Can Do Better!

Cowdy Songs Not Cowboy Govt.

Careful Now!

Wake Up Australia!

In fact most were homemade and some appeared to be the handy work of people more accustomed to writing letters-to-the-editor, pamphleteers rather than sloganeers:

Human Dignity Is Independent of National Borders. We must Always Defend the Interests of the Poor and the Persecuted.

Arbitrary Governments Use Arbitrary Detention.

The longest read:

MR ABBOTT AHD HIS GOVERNMENT HAVE SAID
NO TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND SCIENCE
NO TO MORE WOMEN IN CABINET
NO TO THEIR OWN EDUCATION PROMISES
NO TO THEIR OWN NBN PROMISES
NO TO THEIR OWN HEALTHCARE PROMISES
NO TO REFUGEES
NOW WE SAY NO TO YOU MR. ABBOTT!!!

Many were decidedly to the point:

Tony Abbott Worst PM in Australia’s History.

Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity and Our Planet.

No More Racism, No More Bull, Australia’s Nowhere Near Full!b>Welcome Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

No Justice, No Peace.

Some were a tad obscure:

Viva la Evolucion!

This one had two sides:

Dirty Coal. Clean Wind

Very few signs that I saw were truly offensive or in bad taste. This exception was timeless and certainly open to the charge of not being focussed:

F*ck the Police

It probably wouldn’t resonate with Bolt quite like ‘F*ck Tony Abbott’ T-shirts did.

Monday’s Media Watch looked at a coverage paradox, namely how the old media both ignored and condemned the marches. Paul Barry picked up the threads:

A bevy of right-wing columnists have accused the ABC and Fairfax of failing to condemn some vicious anti-Abbott placards, carried by a handful of marchers.

But it was not just the Right that was unhappy with the way the March in March was covered.

Many protesters felt that 31 marches and tens of thousands of people deserved far more attention.

“I will not let you smear the good people who marched”

Image courtesy of leesalittle.com

Image courtesy of leesalittle.com

The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair has a bee in his bonnet about March in March. Brisbane Lead Organiser for March in March Matthew N. Donovan responds.

Tim Blair is at it again it seems.

Out of all the issues he could have chosen to cover he once again chose March in March as the topic for his highly read blog. Why it’s highly read is anyone’s guess.

I thank him for the spotlight he continues to shine on what was one of the highest turnouts for a protest in many years.

Tim, I take issue with your pathetic childish attempt at an opinion piece. Allow me to relieve you of your delusions and blind or wilful ignorance.

A big task. There’s quite a bit to wade through, but I’m a glutton for punishment.

I’m fully aware you only have one mode. That’s progressive attack mode. That’s how you got your job with Rupert and why you keep it.

You serve at Murdoch’s pleasure.

A condemnation of the standard he has for his publications.

Spotting a progressive opinion writer who works for News Corp Australia proves a challenge to even the most news aware among us.

I personally don’t agree with conservatism. You don’t agree with progressivism. That’s fine. We’re all adults.

However, having read some of your writing and hearing you on 2GB with Ben Fordham recently I’m not too sure my last point applies entirely. Something to work on perhaps?

My issue is not with you and your politics. It’s with your condescending, chest beating, arrogant language and the simplistic stereotypes you cynically use in your writing.

I’m not sure if you have a restricted vocabulary, a lack of debating skills or are just plain lazy but you really need to give your writing more thought.

It’s weak, it lacks depth and it’s tacky. I know you work for Murdoch, but seriously?

March in March was a major success. Not because you acknowledge this fact, but because you don’t.

You have gone after the movement and it’s participants like a pitbull.

I will however not let the likes of you trot out such disgraceful statements against its participants without asserting my right of reply, on their behalf.

This movement is grassroots.

Opponents think it is too large, too organised and too vocal to not have some kind of high profile backer or organiser.

I’ll tell you who the sole backer is: the Australian people.

That’s what makes it so powerful and that’s what annoys you about its prominence on social media and online news.

We have major issues with how Tony Abbott is carrying out his job, his words, his priorities and the sections of society he has chosen to attack.

You see no issue with his agenda.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=hjaM3Iegw7M

That’s because you’re a cheer-leading acolyte.

We have a right to tell our government we don’t approve of the job they are doing as did those against previous governments.

Many thinking Australians are embarrassed to have him as our leader and resent the direction he seems to be pointing our country.

He has no great vision of Australia. Just delusional ideas about some imaginary hey day of yesteryear. Menzies? Howard? Ahhhh yes! The “Golden Age”.

When Abbott’s key mentor, ally and advisor, John Howard thinks reinstating knighthoods is “anachronistic” you know there are serious issues.

It only serves to reinforce our deep concerns about how out of touch our current leader is.

The former prime minister, who was one of the most monarchist leaders in our history, was lobbied by cabinet to introduce imperial titles and resisted during his years in government.

This makes Abbott’s unilateral decision look even more out there than most Australians already think it is.

Let’s be frank. The Abbott Government is there to hold back the inevitable march of progress, if only for a short while. All in aid of helping big business, the well off and vested interests.

He leads an Australia where big business is at the head of the table and the rest of us are supposed to sit in the corner until the next election. You seem to abide by that too Tim but we don’t and won’t.

March in March has no agenda to overturn the government. That is hysteria and further discredits what we’re led to believe is the expert analysis and opinion in your column.

Were you outraged when conservative supporters said the Gillard Government wasn’t legitimate? Were you outraged when a few hundred people rallied in Canberra egged on by Tony’s good mates Gina Rinehart and Alan Jones? Were you outraged that Tony Abbott, Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirrabella chose to stand in front of those infamous signs, and by doing so endorsed them?

Nothing. Silence.

How telling.

I made it clear that participants of March in March Brisbane should keep signs and chants respectful and civil. All other organisers around the country did the same as well as our central campaign team.

I agree. Some signs and chants were in bad taste and only served to dumb down the debate in this country.

I’m proud to see I saw none of this in Brisbane.

It is unfortunate that some people become so angry they use confrontational means.

I continue to advocate for a more civil debate based on ideas and what we want for our nation.

I asked many times that attendees respect these wishes but given it is a grassroots movement some chose to ignore me or were unaware of them.

Short of physically removing them we can’t avoid this occasionally happening. It’s annoying and it distracts from the cause but it comes with the territory.

The main reason I am writing this response is because I will not let you smear the good people who attended because there are a few attendees who serve your political agenda to diminish March in March and hope it goes away.

Even Murdoch's Courier-Mail is poking fun at Abbott's retrograde reintroduction of knighthoods.

Even Murdoch’s Courier-Mail is poking fun at Abbott’s retrograde reintroduction of knighthoods.

100,000+ people marched that day. Some were seasoned marchers, some had never attended a march until now. People from across the spectrum from the very young to the very elderly. These people aren’t “radicals”. These people aren’t “Greenies”. These people aren’t what people like you term “dole bludgers”.

They are caring and concerned thinking Australians.

How dare you shove them into your black and white, “goodies” vs “baddies” worldview!

You did not attend an event. You are in no position to lecture or demean those who participated and you should be repudiated every time you attempt to smear these 100,000+ people for the actions of the few.

I also point out how well peaceful our protests were. Not one arrest. Not one! Not the anarchy and extremism you and your mates at News Corp Australia like to go on about apoplectically.

We understand why you do it but don’t assume we are blind to what you are up to and won’t return fire back every time you enter attack mode with your cheap personal attacks on our movement and its participants.

The chorus of those who are concerned about the Abbott agenda and his way of governing is growing every day.

March in March is growing. Our concerns are genuine. Our passion sincere.

We’re not going anywhere.

Tell Tim you work, contribute to society, care about Australia and marched peacefully in March. Take a photo holding your message and email to blairt@dailytelegraph.com.au or tweet to @TimBlairBlog.

 

Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

Freedom to speak badly: one rule for protestors, another for Andrew Bolt?

Andrew Bolt’s racial vilification case and the government’s subsequent hasty threat to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has placed ‘freedom of speech’ at the forefront of political debate. But its importance is always overlooked, or shunned, when it’s those of the Left side of politics who are exercising it. The media’s response to March in March rallies is an obvious case, writes Jennifer Wilson.

Image: heraldsun.com.au

Image: heraldsun.com.au

Peter van Onselen (pictured) devotes almost an entire page in the Australian this morning (paywalled. sorry) to complaining about the “unedifying” display of bad manners by some protestors who took part in the March in March rallies, comparing them with the infamously abusive banners held aloft by the three hundred or so activists who took part Alan Jones’s 2011 Convoy of no Confidence against Julia Gillard and her Labor government.

I would appreciate someone drawing up a comparison of the two situations, given my impression that the number of participants in the Jones rally carrying offensive placards constituted a far greater percentage of the whole than those in the March in March rallies.

As van Onselen concedes, in the Jones protest virulent expressions of rage and hatred were legitimised by the presence of leading politicians photographed under the placards. No such validation took place of the relatively few offensive banners on display during March in March.

“Calling a conservative a fascist and portraying his image to replicate Hitler is deliberately designed to undermine their ideological positioning in the same way that calling a woman a ‘bitch’ or ‘witch’ carries clear sexist intent,”  van Onselen states, in his comparison of the two situations.

I would not so readily presume an equivalence between sexist intent, and the desire to critique, albeit with a degree of hyperbole, an ideology. Sexism attacks the woman for nothing other than being a woman. Describing Abbott as “fascist” in no way attacks his gender, and is merely commentary on the manner in which he is perceived to enact his conservatism.

Placards claiming that the Abbott government is “illegitimate” are not abusive, offensive or threatening, rather they are simply wrong, and likely being employed as payback for the years of the LNP opposition equally inaccurately describing the Gillard government as “illegitimate.” What is apparent is that there are hot heads and wrong heads on both the conservative and Labor side of politics. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Along with Tim Wilson, Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom, (I’m sorry, I don’t know what that title means) van Onselen is disturbed not at the exercise of freedom of speech demonstrated by both rallies, but at the ill-mannered, impolite, potentially violent and “irresponsible” speech used by a small number of participants in their signage. A similar rabid element is guilty of foully derailing many otherwise useful Twitter discussions, claims van Onselen, quite rightly in some instances, though there are sensitive souls renowned for “rage quitting” Twitter when they confuse disagreement with abuse.

Van Onselen and Wilson’s desire to see public speech free from offensive, insulting and at times threatening expression is shared by many people, but quite how to achieve that remains a mystery. Bad speech must be countered by good speech, Wilson has asserted, however, taking the case of Andrew Bolt as an example, it’s difficult to see how someone with a large public platform such as Bolt, or fellow shock jocks Alan Jones, or Ray Hadley can be challenged by the people they offend and insult, who rarely have an equivalent public platform from which to counter their attacker’s bad speech with good. It is for this reason we have legislation intended to protect people from racial vilification, for example, the very legislation Mr Wilson is now intent on seeing repealed, as he believes it interferes with the absolute freedom of speech he appears to favour.

I can see Wilson’s point, however, as long as there are more powerful enunciators of bad speech with large platforms than there are good, perhaps we need other precautionary measures.

I couldn’t help but wonder, as I read the article, what van Onselen and Wilson would make of public demonstrations in other countries, Mexico perhaps, where I witnessed protests in which politicians were represented by enormous papier-mache figures with grossly exaggerated sexual organs, accompanied by banners that claimed they f*cked both dogs and their mothers and ate children. Nobody saw any cause for offence. Compared to such robust expression, the complaints seem rather prim.

Amusingly, van Onselen concludes his article with the reminder that “Protest is as an important part of democracy as are institutions designed to uphold democracy, but only when practised within the spirit of Australia’s well established political structure.” I am completely unable to see how any of the offensive signage fails to fit in with that spirit. Australian politics have, for the last few years and most certainly during Gillard’s entire term of office, been such that one would think twice before taking school children to witness Question Time, and I really don’t know who van Onselen thinks he is kidding.

The ongoing discourse about how we should conduct our discourse is unlikely to change anything. Van Onselen’s piece appears to make the claim that those who offend middle-class sensitivities undermine the more moderate message and concerns of mainstream protestors, and destroy their credibility. This may well be the case, but only because people such as van Onselen make it so, opportunistically denigrating the whole on the basis of the actions of a very few.

It is not possible to eradicate voices some consider undesirable from public expression. Otherwise we would not have to put up with the Bolts. A sign held aloft at a demonstration cannot do one tiny fraction of the harm done by Bolt, Jones and the like. If we are to conduct serious conversations about how public discourse influences attitudes and behaviours, surely we must start by interrogating the enunciations of those with the furthest reach.

This article was first published on Jennifer’s blog No Place For Sheep and has been reproduced with permission.

To Tory Shepherd

To Tory Shepherd,

I was made aware of your article Grab-bag of rage as the March in March was much ado about nothing when reading Victoria Rollinson’s excellent article The missing ingredients.

I took part in the march and have read your criticism, some of which may be valid.  If I may be so bold, I would like to offer some criticism of my own.

You wish to denigrate protestors for not having professional signs?

“At the Canberra protest the UNHCR was the most professional looking outfit there, carrying polished signs (not floppy bits of cardboard).”

If you think that’s important then I am not surprised that you thought it an “incoherent outpouring of rage against the machine.”  You go on to say

“The point of March in March was to protest pretty much everything, which meant that the valid points being made were drowned out by noise. Those signs, those higgledy piggledy signs with bad spelling and worse grammar, idiotic slurs and downright nasty smears, tainted the whole project. “

It’s rather ironic that you spend the majority of your article reporting that “noise” rather than the “valid points”.  I would suggest that, without those few rather distasteful signs, you wouldn’t have bothered even mentioning the other 100,000 of us.

“They have to be smart. And that is where the Marchers failed and earned the contempt of so many.  If your form of protest makes people either snigger in contempt or want to pat you on the head or give you a good bath and a spelling lesson, then you’re doing it wrong.”

Snigger at your peril.  Your condescension may well end up causing you to be the one viewed with contempt.  You seem to feel that we needed politicians there to lend credibility to the exercise.  Once again you fail to see that it is the lack of credibility from our politicians and media that was a driving force behind this people’s protest.  We are tired of spin from image consultants and advertising firms.  We are tired of biased inaccurate trivial reporting by the media.  What you dismiss as a “grab-bag of mixed messages” was in fact an opportunity for every individual to voice their concerns.

Saving the best of your journalistic expertise for last you end with

 “But the Marchers in the end threatened to disappear up their own proverbials in a puff of BO and bong smoke.”

Oh really?  I am 56 years old and I marched with my nephews who are 6 and 9.  We spoke in the lead up days about why we were marching.  The boys’ take on the conversation was that we were marching to save the trees and fish, and to make people be kind to each other.  I thought that was a wonderful message and I was very proud of the “higgledy piggledy” signs they wrote and drew themselves.  It was great to see my elderly neighbours waving their anti-fracking signs to the beat of drums played by pierced dreadlocked musicians.  It was uplifting to see atheists applauding Father Rod’s speech about truth, decency, and accountability.

This video is “the horde of wild-eyed street-preacher types” that marched in Gosford.

You can’t pigeonhole the people who marched in March Tory, and you can’t identify any one over-riding reason for their concern, but if you think they are going to “disappear up their own proverbials” I would say that your newspaper is far more likely to do that in the near future than the concerned citizens of this country.

We marched because we love our country.  We marched for transparency and accountability.  We marched for compassion.  We marched for the future of our children.  Next time we will send you a press release so you don’t have to bother writing this sort of ill-informed, poorly researched, judgmental fluff in the future.

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