Julie’s Reflections on being at the Anti Carbon Tax Rally

God truly must have loved us yesterday, there must have  been approval of our cause.  Why?  Yesterday the sun was out, it was warm and made the day perfect for this rally.  Today, it is pouring with rain, only 11c and cold.  Says it all really doesn’t it?  What a day it was yesterday.  Crowd numbers were conservatively estimated at 5,000 with some saying 6,500 to others saying 7,000.  I can assure you as I walked through the densest part of this crowd that those estimates are pretty close. I arrived as Tony Abbott was finishing his speech and the wonderful, wonderful Grover was assisted onto the stage to speak, shattered as he was from his 9 day walk from Albury to Canberra for the cause.  As he spoke the crowd respectfully listened in silence and encouraged him as he faltered through his pain of exhaustion.  When he collapsed for the final time there was an audible “oh” from concerned attendees and he finally went off with his carers and family to a well deserved rest with his ears no doubt ringing with the ovation and loud cheers that followed him.

Never will I forget the enormous ROAR of the crowd when Barnaby Joyce got up to speak.  It made my spine tingle and my ears ring and I was in the midst of those making the loudest cheers and ovations.  And what a dynamic speaker he was, reminding all of us of the communist socialism tendencies of this incumbent government and the potential consequences for us over the next 2 years.  He was given an enormous standing ovation when he departed and I saw one very disabled lady, with the help of her carer, stand on her feet and applaud with her heavily deformed arthritic hands.  I saw lots of others like that too.

Warren Truss was the next speaker who received just as enthusiastic a welcome as Barnaby.  What stars are these two? Entertainment of a light nature was provided by impersonators of Bob Brown and Juliar Gillard and they had the crowd in uproarious laughter.  As with anything of a serious nature, a little light relief goes a very long way when you have such a large crowd and it worked a treat.  Peter Madden spoke as well and received a mighty welcome from the crowd as did a gentleman whose name I believe was Peter Nicholls who sang The Carbon Tax Song [The Carbon Tax Blues].  Hilarious, albeit serious.

Now whilst all this was going on, this 5’2″ Rubenesque woman was struggling to walk amongst the crowd to look at the people who had taken all this trouble to attend the Rally on buses and coaches, cars, campervans etc.  They were from all walks of life and all kinds of businesses, big and small.  Truckies, cattlemen, dairy farmers, beef producers, small grocery and deli businesses and market growers etc…There were senior citizens, both male and female both able and disabled.  Some in wheelchairs, some with walkers, others with walking sticks and a lot with severe arthritis as I could see from hands and feet.  There were great big men with strong arms and calloused hands carrying tall signs and small signs. There were grandmothers, mothers, daughters and their children along with their male partners and some alone.  They were from every age group imaginable.  They were well prepared:  picnic baskets, picnic blankets, thermoses, cold drinks, fruit [and I even saw a large block of chocolate being handed out], and this was spread out fairly evenly amongst this crowd along with chairs by the hundreds I’d say.  Some were dressed smartly, some smart casual, others in jeans and jumpers and still others, recognisable immediately as country men, wearing the traditional flannel check shirt with sleeves rolled up [without cigarettes packets rolled up within them]!  They cheered and listened alternatively as each speaker addressed them and applauded at the end.  What a polite bunch of people.  No ratbags here, no seditious, treasonous bogans; no red necks; no crazies.  One man with a “Ditch the Witch” sign got moved on thanks to the ever alert Peter Madden who handled the situation beautifully.

The media were everywhere and I do mean everywhere.  Film recordists, sound recordists, interviewers etc.  Channels 7, 9 and Sky News I spotted along with Chris Smith of 2GB recording live.  At the front of the stage and throughout the crowd.  Within the crowd a multitude of phone cameras, video cams, digital cameras were busy being held aloft to record the event. Strangers talked to one another like friends of old and sharing a joke or two or three at Julia’s and Bob’s expense.  It was exhausting trying to “excuse me” my way across one side of this massive crowd to the other whilst at the same time trying to avoid picnics, people’s feet and chairs and picnic blankets.  But I loved every minute of it.

I got to meet Chris Smith from 2GB personally and handed him the details of my infamy as printed out in full from The Canberra Times online forum RiotACT written by someone called Johnboy and who referred to us as “seditious, treasonous boguns who should be strung up”.  Underneath his comments others had posted that we should all be sent to the Tower of London for beheading and our heads stuck up on spikes on Traitors Gate.  Isn’t hea lovely man?  Such gentle thoughts he has!  Chris asked if he could have the print out and I said yes, of course and gave it to him.  I also met up with Allan Malcolm and Jeanette Hayden and spent time chatting with both.

The programme had come to an end and people drifted off to return to their coaches for the return journey home, taking with them all their recordings of the days events and the memories they will provide in the future.  The Canberra Police did a sterling job with traffic on the day and CATA’s organisation of the event, particularly for the disabled participants was nothing short of amazing.  For this, CATA are to be heartily congratulated on a job well done.

I have included some links in this article regarding yesterday’s Rally and, no doubt, there will be more to come as people post their own photos and records of the event.

In closing I would like to say that I loved being amongst my fellow Australians yesterday.  I’ve never felt so proud to be one of them and joining them in a worthy cause – that of a fresh election and, hopefully, a better more competent and less arrogant government.

All the best Julie