THEIR numbers were relatively few but those who turned out for yesterday’s protest in Wodonga against the federal government were clear in their messages.
“Compassion not detention” read one placard.
“Protect us from climate change” read others.
Another proclaimed simply: “Ashamed of this government”.
Up to 300 people gathered in Woodland Grove yesterday morning to express their vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The protest was one of dozens held across Australia at the weekend as part of the March in March movement, described as a non-politically aligned grassroots campaign where citizens could voice their opinion on the issues most concerning them.
Though small in comparison to the at least 10,000 people at Melbourne’s march, the Wodonga vote added to those gathered across the nation at the weekend and delivered to Canberra today.
A mix of unionists — education and trades primarily — were joined by people of all ages, with the united goal of making Mr Abbott a one-term, or less, prime minister.
“He’s broken his promises and he’s lied,” said Susie Ross, of Eurobin, bearing a placard “Abbott must go”.
“If I broke my work contract I’d be sacked.”
Michael Webster said he was ashamed of the government for its policies on refugees, climate change and “listening to Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch more than us”.
The Chiltern resident hoped the protests would make all political parties stop and think.
Elias Knight, 8, and his sister Clio Knight, 9, had a simple hand-made sign: “Stop being mean to asylum seekers.”
“He made it this morning,” mum Therese Knight said.
Woodland Grove was transformed into a makeshift Speaker’s Corner.
The crowd listened quietly as the floor was opened to allow anyone to have their say.
Wodonga councillor and ALP member Eric Kerr, and Indigo councillor and Greens candidate Jenny O’Connor were among those who responded.
Among the official speakers were Rural Australians for Refugees’ Marilyn Webster who decried the government for a “secret service” policy of not reporting the number of boats arrivals; and Wendy Rose Davison, who voiced her concern about education cuts.
Meanwhile activist Glen Wilson proclaimed climate change “is not just for hippie tree-huggers — everybody is affected by it”.
Overall, though, it was a call to action from Mr Wilson.
“If (Mr Abbott) doesn’t listen to us, then we need to remind him of the fate of the last federal member for Indi who didn’t listen to us,” Mr Wilson said.
Lok Smith, with nine-year-old Oscar in tow, thinks such nationwide protests can make a difference.
“It might make him think twice,” he said.
“If no one tries, then it won’t change.”
Mr Smith protested about mandatory detention and Great Barrier Reef issues.