March in May protesters gather in capital cities
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Sydney's March in May protestProtestors begin to march at an anti government in Sydney. Photo: Jenny Evans
against the Abbott government's budget in a vocal display of discontent
at cuts to health and education.
As state and territory leaders attend an emergency meeting to
discuss measures designed to cut $80 billion from health and education
spending over the next four years, voters are voicing their anger under
"March in May" banners in capital cities including Sydney, Melbourne and
The gatherings, a sequel to the March in March rally held earlier this year, isn't limited to budget discontent.
Protesters will also show their objection to Prime Minister
Tony Abbott's stance on human rights, environment and industrial
Social media was already awash with #marchinmay and #bustthebudget posts.
Sydney March organiser Loz Lawrey said he expected attendance
numbers to be "in the order of the thousands" because the budget had
created "a lot of disgruntled people" who would be inspired to attend.
"It's a bit like riding a tiger. You are never quite sure what direction it's going to take off with," Mr Lawrey said.
The event in Sydney is strictly politician-free and offers by
the Greens, the Labor Party and the Socialist Party to speak at the
rallies were turned down.
Protesters started meeting at Sydney's Belmore Park from 1pm, with police estimating 8000 people were present by 2.45pm.
Traffic authorities are warning motorists travelling to or through Sydney's Central Business District to expect delays.
Roads closed for the march include: Eddy Avenue between
Elizabeth Street and Pitt Street; Pitt Street between Hay Street and
George Street; George Street between Rawson Place and Broadway; Broadway
between Harris Street and City Road, and City Road to Cleveland Street.
Police expect roads to be closed until 4.30pm.
Blacktown resident Michelle Konnecke, who attended the
protest with her daughter and granddaughter, said she wanted to show
her frustration about GP co-payments.
The three attended the March in March protests earlier this
year and this time came prepared with a home-made placard saying: "This
sign is too small to list all their broken promises."
"This is only the second time we've come to a protest and we
just decided to make a sign to make our voice heard. It's my
daughter's and granddaughter's future we're talking about," Ms Konnecke
While some had been busy preparing placards for the event,
Edna Dashwood was taking an afternoon stroll with her two children when
she stumbled upon "all these left wing hippies hanging about".
"I wouldn't say I'm left-wing or right-wing, I'm in the
centre wave. We'll march if we they start talking about anything we
feel passionate about. I am more concerned with changes that affect
workers rather than those to do with welfare," Ms Dashwood said.
Jill Kaye, 70, came specifically to protest the breakdown of funding for universal healthcare.
"I'm not a radical, but having worked in healthcare as a
nurse in Canada, Africa, England and Australia for more than 40 years. I
know what I'm talking about," she said.
The protest signs were a mix of the funny, artistic and downright bizarre.
They called for an "Abbott proof fence", an end to the "nightmare on Abbott street" and to "stop the mad Wabbott".
It wasn't just an anti-Abbott placard party - there were signs in support of sharks, ABC funding and asylum seekers.
In among them all was Blue Mountains resident Beverly Redshaw with her sign: "Grandparents give a Goneski, too."
"I figured they weren't going to take photos of just my husband and I, so we made the sign," Ms Redshaw said.
"I am angry about the budget. Mr Abbott might be able to
afford education for his kids but how about the rest of us? I believe
in more funding for public education."