Why we should March in May

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I am one of the organisers for the March in March and March in May and a social justice advocate.

The leaflet for the Sydney Institute dinner [held on April 28] declares that the honourable Tony Abbott has had a “long and distinguished political career”. I disagree with this statement, and from here on will refer to our prime minister as the dishonourable Tony Abbott.

Since taking office in September last year, the dishonourable Tony Abbott and his government have worked hard to undermine the needs and rights of Australians, giving us plenty to get worked up about.

We are watching the severe dismantling of the welfare state. We are losing our environmental protection policies. Our essential public services are being privatised one by one.

Decision-making power is being given to multinational corporations and overseas governments, and our state governments are getting away with perjury and corruption. Most concerning of all is the mistreatment, abuse and denial of human rights for our most vulnerable people.

As the list of wrongs grows bigger every day, so too does the movement of opposition. In March this year, 100,000 Australians took to the streets to protest the poor decision-making of this government and to loudly declare a vote of no-confidence in the dishonourable Tony Abbott and his government.

The March in March protests introduced Australians to the opportunity to protest against a wide range of issues, rather than focusing on one targeted issue. The result, as such, was the biggest anti-government protest in Australia’s history.

The success of these marches came from our fundamental core of remaining politically unaligned. Despite the [mainstream] media block on March in March publicity, we were able to create enough of an atmosphere on social media alone and generate our own campaign through independent and social media.

The atmosphere on the day of the march was one of high energy, hope and an overwhelming positivity. Something was finally happening and Australians showed we demand change.

It is often the case in this country that any large-scale political events immediately begin to undergo scrutiny.

March in March was no different and we worked hard to communicate to Australians, the media and the government that it is possible for grassroots organising to take place — that you don’t have to necessarily be a member of a political party to make a political statement.

And that, as Australian citizens, we all have the right to express our opposition to the leaders of this country, and that we will express our disgust at the way we are currently being governed.

We gave everyday Australians a space to participate, an opportunity to engage in a process that they felt they could trust. We gave them a platform for their voices to be heard above the governmental circus currently playing on repeat.

But we also offered them an alternative. We recognise that the current system of democracy is not working. That more and more Australians are feeling disillusioned and apathetic towards our leaders, and that more and more Australians were disengaging from public life.

As we [rally outside the Sydney Institute], there are 900 paying guests spending $400 each to listen to the dishonourable Tony Abbott give a lecture — $360,000 dedicated to the hearing of a “serious” talk from an individual who, as we know, has a particular talent for mincing his words.

In just a couple of weeks, the dishonourable Tony Abbott, and his equally dishonourable treasurer, Joe Hockey, will announce the next federal budget. As we anticipate more horrendous cuts to public services, further cuts to welfare and less respect, regard and decency for all Australians, we will build our movement.

On [Sunday] May 18, just days after the budget announcement, Sydney will again unite in opposition to the dishonourable Tony Abbott and his appalling decisions, and declare that enough is enough.

We will continue to march again and again and again, until the government starts protecting the rights of us all; until we can rely on the safeguarding of our economy, the protection of our environment, the delivery of appropriate services and the decency to be transparent as government leaders; until independent and unaffiliated media exists; and until corporations and multinationals are treated accordingly.

We will hold our government to account. We will not stand for the destruction of our country any more.

[This article is based on a speech by March in May organiser Hannah Farrugia, which she gave to a protest outside Abbott’s address to the Sydney Institute. For more information, visit the Facebook event or email marchaustraliasydney@gmail.com.]

From GLW issue 1007