15,000 take to streets of Newcastle



NEWCASTLE — Police estimated that 15,000 people took to the city's streets on February 15 to oppose a war against Iraq.

Many of those participating commented to Green Left Weekly sellers that it was the first time they had joined a protest movement.

There was a buzz of excitement as anti-war protesters began arriving at the Civic Park rally site, everyone having heard of the huge turn-out at the previous evening's anti-war march in Melbourne.

The passion of the anti-war message was illustrated by the many home-made banners, placards and — “Disarm Dubya", “Bush fires, Aussies burn", “Regime change begins at home", “I'd rather bark than bomb Iraq" (a sign on a dog).

The route of the march route through the city to Pacific Park had to be re-negotiated as the original route was too narrow for the numbers of participants.

Speakers at the Newcastle anti-war protest included Michael Malone, Catholic bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, and Lisa Macdonald, the Socialist Alliance's No. 1 candidate for the Legislative Council in the March 22 NSW elections.

Macdonald received loud applause when she challenged all federal Labor MPs to take an take a unequivocal stand against the war if they wanted to be regarded as a genuine opposition to the Coalition government.

A motion calling for Prime Minister John Howard's resignation was put to the rally by co-chairperson Vanessa Bowden on behalf of the No War collective and received an overwhelmingly positive response. Hundreds of people signed up to help with the activities of the No War collective, which had organised the rally and march.

From Green Left Weekly, February 19, 2003.
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