Following the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001, the Western world reacted impulsively and in the very way we were told we shouldn’t have responded. We started stripping away our personal freedoms and rights.
In Australia, the Howard Government was one of the most ferocious of the Western world.
Despite the limited threat of terrorist attack on Australian soil, Australian people or Australian interests abroad, our Government at that time introduced some of the most regressive anti-terrorism laws. They went even further in eroding our personal freedoms and rights in many respects than the US Patriot Act, which is often considered to be a so-called egregious attack on US citizens’ privacy and personal liberties.
It’s been sometime since I last published a post – not since the massive marches in March against the Abbott Government.
Like many others I wasn’t surprised by the measures and heavy-handed approach taken by Abbott but I have been stumped by just how many parts of Australian society are being attacked by the Government.
I’m saddened by the sheer arrogance of the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and senior Cabinet figures who display an almost eager preparedness to tell untruths about the impacts of the Budget. And when they’re caught out not understanding the details of their own work, they go on the attack and thunder that people should stop complaining or that we knew what they would do regardless of what they promised.
In fact the massive assault on many parts of Australian society has left me feeling quite disgusted. And perhaps a little too disgusted to publish coherent posts in recent times.
Over the last weekend (15-16 March) hundreds of thousands of people across Australia got together and marched against the Tony Abbott-leg government, under the banner of March in March.
There were many questions about who organised March in March and what were its motives and supposed outcomes. There was some quite good discussion about these questions in the lead up to March in March. But across the weekend hundreds of thousands of Australians marched.
They marched for various reasons.
I was fortunate enough to attend Melbourne’s March in March which started out at the State Library before heading off to Treasury Gardens. As it turned out there were tens of thousands of Australians packed into the gardens out the front of the State Library and around Melbourne Central. Some estimates suggest there were between 40,000 and 50,000 people.
It was a fantastic gathering of people from all walks of life and political persuasions.
I soon realised it didn’t really matter what March in March was all about but rather that this collective expression needed to happen.
People that had never met each other were discussing why they were there. And it turns out people had a variety of reasons but the theme was definitely overwhelming; the Abbott government is unsatisfactory and hurting people. It seemed that the people I was surrounded by were mostly there because of our treatment of refugees; our country going backwards on climate change; the expansion of CSG and opening up heritage forests to logging; and the attacks on single parents, students, aged and disability pensions.
There were others that I knew were there for those reasons and the attacks on workers’ rights and unions; and the education.
Personally I was there because:
- Our country is going backwards in tackling climate change and isn’t moving towards an economy powered by clean energy and driven by innovation;
- Our government has abandoned science;
- Our government’s reckless austerity measures in the face of all evidence saying austerity is not necessary;
- The policies of Labor and LNP towards refugees now sees some of the cruelest policies being implemented;
- Of the attacks on workers’ rights and unions;
- Our government doesn’t value the investment that education is in our population;
- A seeming lack of detail in articulating any kind of plan or vision for Australia without resorting to three word slogans.
There are definitely more but then this post would be very long and probably quite boring to read.
However I’m also confident that you can add your own reasons to this list for going to a March in March event held near you.
In the end it didn’t really matter why people were there; just that they did turn out to make this massive collective expression. I know it made me feel extremely positive and that the issues I work on and campaign for do matter and do make a difference. It was something that everyone there could enjoy – that they weren’t alone in feeling that something was very wrong with our federal and state governments.
The challenge, as noted by others, is for people working on progressive issues to turn this collective expression into further action.
For what it’s worth:
Here’s some video I took from the rally – this was well after the march had started but it was so massive it took some time before we got moving. Fortunately some street performers kept us entertained and revved up.