March sees people carry placards form the first time

A NUMBER of Shoalhaven residents took part in the nationwide March in March protest against the Abbott government’s policies, which saw 1500 people rally in North Wollongong last Sunday.

For some it was their first march since the 1970s, but for many it was the only time they had ever publicly voiced their concerns.

Carrying placards that read ‘Hands off our Medicare’ and chanting ‘Stand up and fight back,’ the crowd expressed a range of emotions from anger, frustration and embarrassment, particularly over the treatment of asylum seekers.

“The last time I marched was for equal pay [for women] and that was a long time ago,” Bea Hodgson from Gerringong said.

The 74-year-old said she was ashamed at the way asylum seekers were treated but was also angry with the government’s stance over climate change and inaction over educational reforms.

“I have nine grandchildren and I want them to have a good education and to live in a country that looks after those less fortunate,” Ms Hodgson said.

While union representatives and environmentalists were present at the rally, organisers of March in March ensured that the event was not taken over by any political party. The movement, which began in January via social media, now has 45,000 

members.

Jan Walsh (68) drove up from Berry with four friends.

“I think this government has no conscience and I’m particularly concerned about the attack on Tasmanian forests,” she said.

It was the first march for 62-year-old Berry social worker Nessie Barrett.

“The way we treat asylum seekers has incensed me to the point where I think I can no longer not do something about it,’’ she said.

Former Labor candidate Michelle Miran from Vincentia joined a bus full of Shoalhaven residents who took part in the march.

“I was just there as a concerned citizen, someone from Shoalhaven who feels strongly about what is happening in our Australian society. 

“I think there were about 2000 people there but it was peaceful. People were waving banners and calling out their chants, it was really good,” she said.

“It was just interesting to see that around the country there was such an enormous turnout.

“Political parties of all persuasions have woken people up and they don’t like what’s happening under the current government.

“If it’s done nothing else it’s woken the government up.

“For me it’s about the secrecy, the broken promises, lack of equity and fairness.” 

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