[Warning: Dear reader, the following article contains profanity. ed]
“Fuck off Abbott, throw away the key, we won’t stop until we free the refugees” chant the Socialist Alliance. They are a couple of meters in front of me. I wonder how people can chant like that, it feels kind of mind numbing to me. Of course, it’s in the spirit of March in March.
There’s something special about events like this; where people actually come together in solidarity. Where they chose not to believe that other people don’t give a fuck. Where people come together to acknowledge what actually matters. Where a full half of George Street gets shut down by a column of dissent that stretches as far as the eye can see.
So many people came together for so many reasons; all bound in their contempt of Tony Abbott. There’s more than that though, a hatred of corporate interests, of education “reform”, and of concentration camps designed to hold “illegals”. Every personal grievance imaginable is represented here. The speakers addressed a range of issues; Aboriginal rights, gay marriage, education. A poet who in his own words, is a proud refugee, recounted his experience.
Cars beep, people cheer, a brass band plays Eye of the Tiger. The only commonality I see amongst these people is the fact that they are people. Babies, motorised wheelchairs, tattoos, beards, every colourful character you’d find in Newtown, they’re all here. A woman cheers us on from the side of the road, but doesn’t join in.
A young cop looks on, drawing on training to try and stay professional. His eyes betray surprise at this mass of people. A little further up, another smiles cheerfully, she’s not worried at all. She makes friendly eye contact with the protesters.
Storm trooper-like navy blue police uniforms dot the way. They are adorned with hip holsters, feature hiding sunglasses and authoritarian expressions. Their faces don’t reveal much, but you have to wonder what they’re feeling.
Victoria park is full cries of “no TTP!” and “Tony, Tony, you’re a fuckin’ phoney!” A woman holds up a sign reading “#killabbot possible”. It’s all a bit fantastic. I stop to take photos and just let it all sink in. The rain from midday has been replaced by muggy heat and bright sunshine.
If an Emperor runs an Empire
King runs a Kingdom
Runs a country?
Without question that’s the best sign I see. The woman holding it looks as if she is genuinely asking the question too, who does run a country? Who does run our country?
Someone bumps into me and we both apologise automatically. He looks me dead in the eye, “No, no, it’s my fault”. I’ve never had that happen before; there must be something in the air. It can’t just be the reek of hydroponic ganja wafting from a seated group nearby, can it?
I’ve been in Victoria Park for fifteen minutes, and there are still people thronging in. I cross the road and can only just see the back of the parade. Traffic is advancing hot on its heels. Progress wants to get back to the status quo, but I wonder, after today, what is going to change?
It’s 10:43pm as I write this and Tasmania has voted in a Liberal government. South Australia may have a hung parliament.
It seems odd that this dichotomy is occurring. According to the relatively condescending and apathetic report published in The Age, an estimated 12,000 people turned up for March in March in Sydney. Simultaneously, Tasmania, a state that could lose world heritage listing of roughly 74,000 hectares of forest, elects a conservative government.
Regardless of what happens in government from this time on, it is the responsibility of the people to hold their elected representatives responsible. Tony Abbott broke election promises, is attempting to get Australia to be a signatory to the Trans Pacific Partnership and is cutting funding to public schools. It’s our responsibility to ensure that he is not able to.
If you want an example of how to behave when a government doesn’t listen, then you don’t need to look much further than Ukraine. I’m not advocating for rioting in the streets, but sitting at home providing expert commentary does nothing constructive. Protest, talk over coffee and cause a ruckus by voicing your opinion. Become informed and look around you.
Don’t forget how powerful you are. Those people in Canberra, we employ them.
So let’s make them work for us, not for mining, perpetual growth or for the sake of an economy. An economy doesn’t exist without people and people don’t exist without land to grow food. So let’s not fuck this up.