Sydney rally declares Mike Baird is on the nose

Photo: Peter Boyle
June 2, 2016

This banker-premier's salesman's smile has well and truly worn thin. The Mike Baird Coalition government of New South Wales is on the nose.

The mood of the thousands of people who marched on NSW Parliament House on May 29 recalled the mounting public rejection of former prime minister Tony Abbott expressed by the March In March movement in 2014. Abbott dismissed March In March as insignificant but by September the following year he was history.

The 2014 March In March brought out 80,000 to 110,000 people while the first March Against Baird brought out between 6000 and 8000. So there is a difference in scale. But what was very similar was the broad composition of the marchers and the many issues that brought people together.

There were people who were angry at Baird's dismissal of half the elected local councils in NSW in his bid to force them to amalgamate — against the wishes of residents.

Others were angry at the $19 billion corporate scam and transport catastrophe that is the WestConnex mega-tunnel and tollway project, a project now meeting sustained civil disobedience by residents living in its path.

There were people furious about the decision to build a second Sydney airport at Badgery's Creek in the city's western suburbs.

There were people angry at the NSW government's corruption, especially its links with developers, coal seam gas mining companies and the dirty coal companies that pretty much run this state.

The Greens have worked out from government projections that NSW, which extracted 196.6 million tonnes of coal in 2014, plans to increase this to 324.5 million tonnes a year by 2056 — about a million tonnes a day. Never mind the climate emergency.

There were people marching because of numerous threats to the environment: from CSG and coal threatened communities; threats to water catchments, the Great Artesian Basin and prime farmland; to stands of trees which have been chopped down for a new light rail project in Sydney's east.

Others were marching to oppose draconian new laws against the right to protest. Some were there because they were against the “lockout” laws in parts of the city forcing clubs and pubs to close earlier.

There were also public sector unionists marching against cuts to services and jobs.

This was a similar broad range of issues uniting people against a government seen as serving the corporate rich at the expense of everyone else, to what we saw in the March In March movement in 2014. The difference this time is there is something else in play.

All around the world, the entrenched power of rapacious corporate greed has been identified by millions of people as the big problem. We see this in Britain with the rise of socialist Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party and in the US with the Bernie Sanders election campaign.

The interesting thing is that people seem to be moving into political action in large numbers against the big corporations and their politicians without significant help from large institutions, such as the trade unions or even the big environmental NGOs. This is a grassroots movement.

Baird could easily dismiss the May 29 march just as Abbott did back in March 2014. There needs to be at another, much bigger, March Against Baird to really express the full potential of this new movement. I think we can expect this to happen. Mike Baird, the people of NSW are coming for you!

[Peter Boyle is the Socialist Alliance candidate in the federal seat of Sydney. His FB campaign page is here.]

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