Scenes from ‘March Australia’ rally in Brisbane CBD. Photos: Audrey Courty
Thousands of protesters marched through Brisbane CBD on Sunday as part of a nationwide protest against Federal Government policies.
The ‘March Australia’ rally, which began and finished in Queens Park, targeted a raft of issues including indigenous rights, asylum seekers, budget cuts and the Great Barrier Reef.
The Queensland government’s “anti-bikie” laws and plans to sell assets were also among the issues discussed.
Brisbane organiser Evan Verner said the rally is a “sign of no confidence” in the state and federal governments.
“Australians are sick of the lies and the misinformation that they’re being fed, and they’re sick of the attacks on the fundamental parts of our democracy,” Mr Verner said.
“The most basic thing we want is a line of communication with our politicians and we don’t just want that now, we want that in the future…where society actually has a say in policy decisions.”
The non-partisan, grassroots movement drew an eclectic mix of people, with representation from unions, social justice organisations, conservation groups and others.
Australian Council for Civil Liberties President Terry O’Gorman spoke to the crowd about the Newman government’s “attacks” on people’s rights, citing specifically “anti-bikie” and anti-association laws.
“When we look at this government’s position on civil liberties, it is cynical, it is a flip-flop position—they have no regard or very little regard for civil liberties,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“He [Premier Campbell Newman] won’t consult, he won’t listen to points of view that contradict his own and he’s got to be made to listen at the ballot box.”
Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters also spoke at the Brisbane rally, advocating for compassion and the rights of refugees.
“The cruelty and the heartlessness of this [Federal] Government must be stopped and we must start abiding by our international obligations… to process people’s claims for asylum and to let them work and contribute to this nation,” Senator Waters said.
“Offshore detention is inflicting so much harm physically, mentally and to our very society—we have people dying on our watch in facilities that our government is funding, we have people that are self-harming in desperation, and we are forever inflicting harm on those children who are growing up behind razor wire.
“[Immigration Minister] Scott Morrison has that on his hands.”
Other speakers at the event included Indigenous rights activist Sam Watson, economist John Quggin and coral reefs expert Selina Ward.
The rallies in capital cities followed those in regional areas on Saturday.
They are the third instalment of ‘March Australia’, with similar waves of protest having swept the country in March and July 2014.