Aussie antiwar protests

Ben Courtice benj at
Sat Feb 15 23:49:38 MST 2003

Philip Ferguson:
> Hobart (Tasmania): between 18,000 - 20, 000 (media says 10,000).

Now that is bloody impressive.  I'm not sure exactly how many people
Hobart has, but I assume that it's about 150,000.  Even if people came
from other parts of Tazzie, this is still incredibly impressive size for Tasmania.

My mother was at the Hobart rally. She said 15-20,000. The population of Hobart is around
200,000 if you count the surrounding area. So that's about one in ten people!!! Launceston
(the state's second biggest town, population around 80,000 I think) had a rally of several

I was at the Melbourne rally. It was awesome. While it was still marching past me at the
State Library at one end of the city, the crowd stretched so far down the hill I couldn't
see the end of it, the biggest demo I've been on (in defence of the Maritime Union of
Australia) was estimated at about 100,000; this was definitely bigger. Apparently the
sound engineer was told to prepare for a crowd of only 20,000!! The venue was too small,
people were much too crowded, even blocking the escalators from the subway station. Next
one I hope the organising coalition will be less pessimistic and hire out a big park.

Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Leigh Hubbard spoke, and got cheers when he said
that we mustn't support the war regardless of what the U.N. says about it. On the other
hand, Greens senator Bob Brown (who was massively cheered, at least by those who were
close enough to the stage to hear) has said he supports the European "peace plan". Tailing
the Labor Party, really. Which is sad but not entirely surprising from Brown.

Amusingly, the Weekend Australian newspaper (in its editorial) has resuscitated old Cold
War rhetoric about the protests being hijacked by the far left (so 150 000+ Melbourneans
are Communist Dupes!?!). Apparently, they tell us, it's very noble to protest for peace,
but unfortunately the far left have hijacked this noble sentiment into opposing US
attempts to make peace by declaring war on Iraq (war is peace!). And the Sydney rally has
discredited itself by letting Leftist firebrand John Pilger speak -- which is terrible
because this maniac calls the US the Third Reich of our time...

The newspaper did, however, print a little box with the venue & time for the rallies
around the rest of the country over the weekend which is surprising.

Ben Courtice

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