March in March: What Goes Around Comes Around for PM Tony Abbott

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By Athena Yenko | March 17, 2014 2:50 PM EST

Australian politics is a never-ending twists and turns.

In 2010, Kevin Rudd was ousted in favour of Julia Gillard.

In 2013, Ms Gillard was ousted by Mr Rudd - Mr Rudd, only to be defeated by now Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the Sep 7 election.

In 2011, A "Convoy of No Confidence" was held against Ms Gillard with Mr Abbott and other Coalition MPs supporting the rally.

Saturday, March 15, thousands of Australians across the country, in capital cities and regional towns, staged the same protest against Mr Abbott.

"A Vote of No Confidence" was staged as a protest to the Abbott Government's policies about the Great Barrier Reef, asylum seekers, gay marriage and carbon tax among others.

The rally was started through Facebook by an online volunteer group with Craig Batty and Tim Jones as organisers.

Canberra

On Monday, protesters started their march to the Parliament House at about 10:45 am.

There were roughly 400 to 500 people joining the rally before it hit lunch time. More protesters are expected to come for the rest of the day.

"Get to Canberra today. This is the tough one. After a huge weekend we need your support to make this day a great one. We know it's not easy to come on a Monday but it's vital that you make the effort," as posted in March in March Australia organisers Facebook page.

The Monday Programme went as follows:

Queen Victoria Terrace Assembly Point
Speakers' Corner operating from 9.00
Marchers assemble from 10.00
March begins 10.45
On Stage
Crowd welcome and acknowledgment Loz Lawrey 11.30
History of March in March Craig Batty 11.35
Yamatji Mob Sandy Davies 11.40
Song: Earth Song Dani Paryce 11.50
Great Barrier Reef and Forests Caroline LeCouteur 12.00
The Ethics of Compassion Rod Bower 12.10
Song: Don't Deny Me Loz Lawrey 12.20
Social Issues Susan Helyar 12.30
Asylum Seekers and Refugees John Minns 12.40
Music: Not in My Name Daniel Farrell 12.50
Climate Change Richard Denniss 1.00
Broken Promises by the Government Sara Vancea 1.10
Song: Days Like These Craig Batty 1.15
Fossil Fuel Industries Tom Swan 1.20
Statement of No Confidence Document Handover Adam Bandt 1.30
Song: Dear Mr Prime Minister Dani Paryce 1.40
Native title Northern Territory Eddie Mason 1.50
Musical Wind Down The Band 2.00

"People are protesting more issues than I could mention in one breath. There's the issue of our forests in Tasmania, the damage to the environment, the dumping of material in the Great Barrier Reef, social justice issues, the attacks on wages and entitlements. There are many things that have got people upset and we just feel that the politicians aren't listening to the people and that's why we're all here today. To send a message to this government that they're not governing for the people but instead  for vested interest and to tell them that we're not happy about it," the Canberra organiser told The Sydney Morning Herald.

The crowd cheered Director of the Anglican Preisthood in Gosford Father Rod Bower's speech through a standing ovation. Fr Bower spoke about compassion and asylum seekers right to be treated equal.

"If we don't start with compassion we can end up in the place we are now, torturing refugees, abusing the integrity of the natural world. Unless we have compassion we find ourselves in a destructive mode and that's where we are at the moment," Fr Bower said during his speech..

On Sunday, people joined the March in March protest in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Sydney

Belmore Park was filled with protesters bearing red flags with the face of Che Guevera.

There were people wearing shirts which said, "Fuck Tony Abbott" being sold by Patrick Langosch, a member of Socialist Alternative. He said the shirts, which "sum up the frustration that people here have,"  were sold out.

 "People can see that Tony Abbott is fighting a class war for the rich and powerful. The T-shirt really expresses that. It's not about anything in particular that he's done - it's about what he represents," Mr Langosch said.

There were interesting characters with more interesting placards.

One placard read, ''To a pugilist, every problem looks like an un-protected head,'' alluding to Mr Abbott's background as a boxer.

A man in his PJs wore a Tony Abbott mask. In his topless body, the man drew hearts and dollar signs over his nipples. He was holding placards. One read, "Our country has been Hijacked by terrorists!" and the other, "Abbott is a weapon of mass destruction."

For Ashbury resident Michelle Glaznieks and her son Henry, the protests was about the NDIS scheme under Abbott Government.

"I'm worried about it being taken away, the goalposts being moved again for our disabled son. We'll be caring for him the rest of our lives and we'd like to know that what the NDIS has promised will be delivered," Ms Glaznieks told SMH.

 "I guess what's brought us out today is a massive culmination of things. Our daughter's future education, her health system, making sure that we're protecting the most vulnerable people in Australia," Kelly Pervan, a mother to a seven-month-old daughter said. 

Meanwhile, rally emcee Matt Wakefield cheered the crowd with his reference to the  ''shameful, racist, homophobic...f--king a--hole that is Tony Abbott.''

The protesters were surprised by British singer Billy Bragg who sang To Have and To Have not in reference to mining magnate Gina Rinehart's praise of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

"I send this song out to Gina Rinehart and those people who think that everyone on welfare is somehow cheating them," Mr Bragg said.

The crowd was booing in every mention of Ms Rinehart's name.

For Cat Rose, the convenor of Community Action Againts Homophobia, being homophpbic was enough reason for Mr Abbott's disqualification.

And while all this was happening, just down the road from the park, Mr Abbott was celebrating a state victory for Tasmania.

 "My understanding is that the only big rally in Sydney is the St Patrick's Day parade.

I wish all the St Patrick's Day revellers well, and if their parade is rained on, there's always some Guinness available somewhere around the city," Mr Abbott said when asked about the rally happening Belmore Park.

Melbourne

There were an estimated 30,000 people who joined the Melbourne March in March held in Treasury Gardens.

One protester wore a shark costume; another was a radical provoking the police for a stand-off while another protester was encouraging to give police a hug.

The rest of the March in March attendees were teachers, union leaders and animal lovers.

''This protest is so community-focused. It taps into this real sense of displacement and moral anger, which is quite unusual," said Van Badham, who spoke at the rally.

The protesters were angry about Mr Abbott's decisions right after he became prime minister.

''They're not listening to us. They're lying to us. And there are a lot of people here who have never been in a protest in their life,'' Melbourne Jenni James said.

Brisbane

Protesters, including women and children, joined the March in March protest at Queen's park. The protesters marched through central Brisbane.

One of the protesters collapsed after the march. He was taken to an ambulance for first aid.

Matt Donovan, the Brisbane Organisers, was persuasive as he denounced Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's conduct towards asylum seekers.

"No matter how many times you parrot that lie, we will keep reminding you. I know many of you protesters are here, in fact, to protest the arrogant, despotic, far-right, authoritarian, self-serving, bully-boy government and the police state he has created," he told the crowd before the march started.

Queensland Labor frontbencher MP Jo-Ann Miller also spoke during the march commenting that the Abbott government is slowly becoming like the Joh Bjelke-Petersen - cutting the civil liberties short "every single day."

Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters condemned the government's decision to repeal a part of the Racial Discrimination Act.

"In Tony Abbott's world, Andrew Bolt is the minister for indigenous affairs ... but only if they're black enough for his determination," - a remark made in reference to Mr Bolt's prosecution for his article saying "fair-skinned Aboriginals" claimed their Aboriginal roots for interior motives.

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