Thousands march in Newcastle against Abbott government, photos, video

 AT least 3000 people took part in Sunday’s March In March rally in Newcastle, one of more than two dozen cities across Australia to hold such events.

Protest signs and banners showed that asylum seekers, the environment and jobs were the major issues but the open-ended nature of the March In March movement meant that people were free to gather under whatever banner they wished.

 AT least 3000 people took part in yesterday’s March In March rally in Newcastle, one of more than two dozen cities across Australia to hold such events.

Protest signs and banners showed that asylum seekers, the environment and jobs were the major issues but the open-ended nature of the March In March movement meant that people were free to gather under whatever banner they wished.

Morisset woman Daniella Chedzey gave a ‘‘welcome to country’’ at the start of the rally at Pacific Park, and was resoundingly applauded for a heartfelt speech at the Civic Park end of the event.

Not surprisingly, given the target of the rally was the Abbott government, a number of those taking leading roles yesterday were well-known left-wing activists including master of ceremonies Zane Alcorn.

But one of the founders of the Newcastle rally, Pasqualina Perone, of Mayfield, said everyone was acting as individuals and no political party was involved in the event.

Mrs Perone said she and a small group of friends had been working on the march since January, when they answered an online call for help from the national organisers.

Asked if she was surprised at the size of the turnout, she said: ‘‘It’s what I had hoped it would be, but it’s bigger than I expected.’’

The 22-year-old said her generation was ‘‘becoming more active’’ in political protests and ‘‘there is already talk of another march next year’’.

March In March will culminate today when protesters deliver a notice of no confidence to Parliament House.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the Labor Party was not formally involved, but he urged people to ‘‘express their views ... it’s a free country’’.

 The Newcastle rally was given a police escort down Hunter Street and left Pacific Park just after its scheduled time of 9.45am.

Primed with a series of chants against Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government, the protesters had a police car escort at the front as they moved slowly down Hunter Street towards Civic Park.

At one stage, the march stretched from east of the Hunter Street mall to the Civic Theatre.

A range of speakers took to the microphone at Civic Park, including environmental activist George Woods, who spoke for Lock The Gate against the T4 coal loader and the coal industry.

Greens councillor Therese Doyle, who represented the Refugee Action Network Newcastle, was roundly applauded when she said it was hypocritical to talk about ‘‘the international movement of capital’’ but not allow the free movement of people.

Newcastle Trades Hall Council secretary Gary Kennedy gave one of the most impassioned speeches of the day when he launched into a hostile attack on the excesses of capitalism, taking particular aim at billionaire Gina Rinehart and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

Forgacs union delegate Ben Horan told the crowd that the government needed to bring forward defence contractors to preserve hundreds of jobs locally, and more than 7000nationally.

In Sydney, placards  denouncing the Abbot government, 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. 

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