Scenes from March in March rally in front of Parliament House in Canberra.
Scenes from March in March rally in front of Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Hundreds of protesters have converged on Parliament House as
part of a nationwide March In March protest against the Abbott
Government and its policies.

Rally participants gathered at Queen Victoria Terrace and began their march to Parliament House about 10.45am Monday.

Numbers at the rally peaked at up to 1500 about 11.30am, before dwindling again early afternoon.

Scenes from March in March rally in front of Parliament House in Canberra.
Click for more photos

March In March Canberra

Scenes from March in March rally in front of Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

National administrator Craig Batty said the rally showed Australians did not believe democracy ended at the ballot box.

"They're prepared to come out, join together and talk about the issues that concern them," he said.

"There's going to be people who try to minimize this and spin
it in terms of how many people are here, but you've got to remember
it's a work day."

Earlier, Canberra organiser Loz Lawry said public servants
had likely been hesitant to take a day off for the protest, especially
given the government's cuts to public sector jobs. However, he was
happy with the attendance.

"People are protesting more issues than I could mention in
one breath. There's the issue of our forests in Tasmania, the damage
to the environment, the dumping of material in the Great Barrier Reef,
social justice issues, the attacks on wages and entitlements," he

"There are many things that have got people upset and we just
feel that the politicians aren't listening to the people and that's
why we're all here today. To send a message to this government that
they're not governing for the people but instead for vested interest
and to tell them that we're not happy about it."

It was an eclectic mix of people, with representation from unions, conservation groups and others.

They delivered a "statement of no confidence" in the Coalition Government, handing it to Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Priest of the Anglican Church Parish of Gosford Father Rod Bower spoke to the crowd on compassion and refugee rights.

"If we don't start with compassion we can end up in the place
we are now, torturing refugees, abusing the integrity of the natural
world. Unless we have compassion we find ourselves in a destructive mode
and that's where we are at the moment," he said.

He was treated with a standing ovation from the crowd, which heard from several speakers and bands.

Protester Frances Corkahill, of Canberra, said she was upset
at too many things to list them all on one sign, but ranked attacks on
the ABC and on asylum seeker rights as chief among her concerns.

Meantime, Mark Selmes travelled from the Southern Tablelands
and was dressed in a koala suit, to protest the destruction of forests
and the habitat of wildlife.

The march follows protests in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane over the weekend. Melbourne organisers estimated crowds of 30,000 people on Sunday.

About 20 police officers were on hand to watch over the rally
and organisers repeatedly told the crowd to respect "the thin blue
line" of police. The crowd was peaceful, although one young man did
cause some concern for officers.

He was wearing a mask and carrying a prop Molotov cocktail
filled with water. When confronted by police, he drank from the bottle
to prove it was safe.

When asked why he had brought it, the protester said it
"looked cool". Police smelt the bottle and deemed it to be water,
telling him "you can obviously see why we are concerned". The bottle was
returned and the young man departed.

Lea O'Brien, 59, of Canberra, was at the rally.

"[Mr Abbott] is an ignorant, arrogant and misogynistic man
and there is no way in the world I would have voted for him," she said.

"I didn't give [this government] any mandate to do what it's
doing. I didn't give any mandate to destroy the environment, to reduce
jobs, to make our future so bleak."

Another Canberra woman, November, said she was upset about
too many things to list. When asked what she wanted to achieve, she
said, "I want to see Tony Abbott lynched."

Mr Bandt accepted the statement of no confidence around 1.30pm on the laws out the front of Parliament House.

"This is what Australia really looks like," he said. "There
is at the heart of this country a generous, compassionate, egalitarian
heart that beats."