Friday, March 28, 2014

Faces in the crowd: Melbourne #MarchinMarch

The Marches in March continue to glow with controversy. Never did so few gather so many, without engaging the usual suspects of the old media, the political parties, NGOs, the unions and the activist groups. There had to be a dark side to these events. The people can’t have minds of their own! Or if they do they must be warped!

Tim Dunlop has joined the fray with a post at The Drum: Rage against the mainstream
The fact is, the media's lame response to an estimated 100,000 citizens showing up on the streets around the country is indicative of a deeper malaise: the rules of news have changed, and increasingly legacy media companies have neither the capacity nor the wit to operate in the new environment.
His target was the Sydney Morning Herald’s Jacqueline Maley.

Tim’s piece follows Lyndon Morley spirited offence at Independent Australia in support of his sign RESIGN DICKHEAD! He was replying to Andrew Bolt’s slanted reporting at the Herald Sun. Bolt was comparing the remarks about Abbott with those of Alan Jones about Julia Gillard. As usual he saw red: "But who will apologise for the parade of hatred in today’s March in March?" He found what he was looking for, of course.

I’ll leave jousting with the black knight of bigotry to Lyndon.

Matthew Donovan tackled The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair over what he called “delusions and blind or wilful ignorance” on AIMN on Wednesday. His message: “I will not let you smear the good people who marched”.

I’ll just stick to what I saw and heard in my hometown. To flip the record, I’ve compiled some offcuts that didn’t make my original video piece on the Melbourne #MarchinMarch, not for the signs of the times but for the faces of the people:

One of the more appealing aspects of the Melbourne march was the signs. By and large, they were not offensive. Some seemed to have gone to extremes to be polite:

Kindness matters!

Not Happy Tony.

We Can Do Better!

Cowdy Songs Not Cowboy Govt.

Careful Now!

Wake Up Australia!

In fact most were homemade and some appeared to be the handy work of people more accustomed to writing letters-to-the-editor, pamphleteers rather than sloganeers:

Human Dignity Is Independent of National Borders. We must Always Defend the Interests of the Poor and the Persecuted.

Arbitrary Governments Use Arbitrary Detention.

The longest read:


Many were decidedly to the point:

Tony Abbott Worst PM in Australia’s History.

Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity and Our Planet.

No More Racism, No More Bull, Australia’s Nowhere Near Full!b>Welcome Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

No Justice, No Peace.

Some were a tad obscure:

Viva la Evolucion!

This one had two sides:

Dirty Coal. Clean Wind

Very few signs that I saw were truly offensive or in bad taste. This exception was timeless and certainly open to the charge of not being focussed:

Fuck the Police

It probably wouldn’t resonate with Bolt quite like ‘Fuck Tony Abbott’ T-shirts did.

Monday's Media Watch looked at a coverage paradox, namely how the old media both ignored and condemned the marches. Paul Barry picked up the threads:
A bevy of right-wing columnists have accused the ABC and Fairfax of failing to condemn some vicious anti-Abbott placards, carried by a handful of marchers.

But it was not just the Right that was unhappy with the way the March in March was covered.

Many protesters felt that 31 marches and tens of thousands of people deserved far more attention.

[This is a crosspost with the Australian Independent Media Network.]

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Monday, March 17, 2014

VIDEO: Melbourne's Massive March in March

Australians took to the streets on the weekend of 15 - 16 March 2014 to protest against the Tony Abbott's Federal government just six months after its election. Melbourne's crowd of approximately 50,000 was the largest.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this phenomenon is that it is a grassroots movement, not driven by the usual suspects in the progressive forces.

It showed the power of social media in spreading the word, as the old media gave the marches little or no coverage beforehand.

March in March's Facebook page banner proclaims: Decency, Transparency, Accountability. Its call:

March In March Australia 2014 will be three days of peaceful assemblies, non-partisan citizens’ marches and rallies at Federal Parliament and around Australia to protest against government decisions that are against the common good of our nation.

This signifies a 'people’s vote of no confidence' in government policies and decisions that go against common principles of humanity, decency, fairness, social justice and equity, democratic governance, responsible global citizenship and conserving our natural heritage.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

ALP Party Reform: a long time waiting

ALP members have waited a long time for party reform. We have watched the Federal party waste the promise of the 2007 elections, tearing itself apart with personality politics, factional feuds, and backroom deals and bullying.

The party administration and campaigning, at both Federal and State levels, have been woeful to say the least. We must breakdown the wall between the insiders and the membership if this is to improve.

Clearly we face a crisis within the ALP that requires some major changes. The dead hand of the factions requires members to take a strong stand to ensure democratic decision-making throughout the organisation, not just at local level. As I wrote in an earlier post, "It is a joke to be promoting community campaigning with local candidates and at the same time reverting to the worst of factional politics that goes in the opposite direction."

I have nominated for election as a delegate from Goldstein electorate for the Victorian State Conference and will be supporting others who are prepared to work for rules changes and a changed culture. The time has come for those who have been tied up at conference and the Public Office Selection Committee by faction loyalty or favours to move aside or embrace a new path. We must not have any more preselection debacles. We must have real policy debates where we can be proud of the outcomes whichever point of view prevails.

We need to thrash out the kinds of changes that Local Labor and Open Labor have been proposing. Many of Labor's warlords are more interested in dividing the spoils of opposition than winning office with progressive policies.

We will not get a broad base unless we are prepared to stop whispering in the corridors and walking past the totally unacceptable.

I hope other members will join in nominating as candidates to help revitalise our party. [As an ALP life member of 42 years standing, I won't be tempted to sell out for career ambitions.]

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