Tens of thousands of people have rallied across Australia to protest the direction taken by the country’s various conservative governments.
Tens of thousands of protesters have marched through city streets across Australia, waving placards vilifying Prime Minister Tony Abbott and venting their anger at the policies of conservative state and federal governments.
The March in March event attracted the largest crowd in Melbourne, where more than 10,000 people – among them parents, students, environmentalists, refugee supporters, cab drivers, teachers and children – gathered in the city centre.
About 2000 swarmed on central Brisbane to show their disdain for the direction taken by Liberal governments and just under 10,000 protested in Sydney, local police told AAP.
Many of the headline-grabbing polices of the Commonwealth, NSW, WA and Queensland governments were attacked during an event organisers say is a grassroots, non-partisan peaceful protest spawned from conversations on social media.
The organisers claim March in March has 45,000 Facebook supporters, amassed since the conversation began in January.
Speeches on indigenous rights, asylum seekers, education funding and university cuts featured in the Melbourne march, which 17,000 people said on Facebook they would attend.
“Transit not tolls” and “Turn back the AbBoat” signs were brandished by members of the eclectic crowd.
Blackburn couple Dyan and Andrew brought their kids, Dylan, Harper and Marlo, because they wanted to teach their children to voice their opposition to governments they don’t agree with.
“I’ve never been moved as much by any other government in my life as this to protest,” Dyan told AAP.
In Sydney, placards suggesting Mr Abbott has Satan on speed-dial and others denouncing the illuminati and global weather conspiracies were waved as rain fell on the park hosting the event.
About 12,000 said on Facebook they would march in Sydney but the figure was just under 10,000 despite a large thunderstorm.
Mining magnate Gina Rinehart was targeted by British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg for suggesting Australia should adopt hard-line conservative Thatcherite policies.
He also drew the crowd’s attention to what he believes is the real problem with contemporary politics.
“The true enemy is not actually capitalism or conservatism – it’s cynicism,” he told the crowd.
“It’s the amount of bile that appears on the internet when anyone makes a political point – particularly vile attacks on Twitter to intelligent young women expressing an opinion.”
Signs at the Sydney protest suggested the weather is being controlled by America’s High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) and others featured a picture of Mr Abbott on the telephone with the caption “hello Satan?”
Another branded him the “minister for ditch the witch”, a reference to slogans aimed at former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard during 2011’s carbon tax protests.
Asylum seekers, climate change, gay marriage and the Newman government were the focus of the Brisbane march, which started in Queens Park.
Organiser Matt Donovan, a former Labor candidate, denounced Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s treatment of asylum seekers.
He also took a swipe at Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, dubbing him “our dear leader” in a comparison to deceased North Korean despot Kim Jong-il.
“I know many of you protesters are here, in fact, to protest the arrogant, despotic, far-right, authoritarian, self-serving, bully-boy government and the police state he has created,” Mr Donovan said.
The event will culminate on Monday when protesters deliver a notice of no confidence to Parliament House.
While the protesters spread their message across the mainland, the Liberal Party was celebrating its return to government in Tasmania, where it crushed the ALP, which received just 27 per cent of primary votes.