Biggest moments of 2011 #11 Carbon outrage hits Canberra
On March 23 some 2000 to 3000 people gathered in Federation Mall in front of Parliament House in Canberra to protest against the Government’s carbon pricing policy. This No Carbon Tax rally was the first demonstration in the national capital of a grassroots opposition to the policy, a protest movement Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had been attempting to marshall.
The event’s aim was overwhelmed by the starkly hostile and sexist signs and placards wielded by the demonstrators. Prime Minister Julia Gillard was called “JuLIAR,” as pioneered by 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones.
She was called a “bitch’’ and a “witch” and speakers at the rally reflected the tone of the signs held by listeners. Government MPs were furious, particularly women, and the rally was condemned from Labor benches in Parliament during Question Time. Tony Abbott spoke from the protest platform and embarrassingly was photographed in front of a sign reading “JuLIAR Gillard…Bob Browns (sic) Bitch”.
What happened next
The rally was followed up by a number of noisy, not-particularly-well-controlled rallies in state capitals, including another couple in Canberra.
The Convoy of No Confidence, a protest movement of truckies from around Australia that hit Canberra on August 22, was better organised. The nastier signs were banned and it involved a smaller crowd.
This protest hit a snag when master of ceremonies Alan Jones claimed police had prevented hundreds of trucks from entering Canberra. That was untrue, and it damaged the credibility of what Transport Minister Anthony Albanese in Parliament called the “Convoy of No Consequence”.
The Axe the Tax mob took revenge on September 1 by marching on Mr Albanese’s electorate office in Marrickville, Sydney, carrying protest signs including one which read: “Tolerance is our demise”. Mr Albanese came out and spoke to the group of about 300, and the video of the occasion soon became hugely popular online, mainly because of the antics of the protesters.
What we learned
The rally in Canberra showed that the No Carbon Tax campaign was being run by enthusiastic amateurs, some of whom seemed to have adopted the style of their shock-jock favourites who saw no insult as a step too far.
The No Carbon Tax organisers found they could get a national audience, and heavyweight endorsement from the Coalition, by lining up outside Parliament House.
How the Punch covered it
We’ve been all over the Democracy is Dead protesters this year. We kicked off our coverage by pointing out that with their “Juliar” rhetoric, protesters were playing the woman, not the tax.
A follow up rally in September was nothing but a carbon freak show, wrote Ant Sharwood:
If democracy is so dead, just remind us again why a rally organised by government opponents was allowed to happen on the lawns outside the seat of power?
And when the Convoy of No Confidence hit Canberra, Daniel Piotrowski told the story of why one truckie, for better or for worse, chose to whittle away $10k to travel from Perth to Parliament House to protest. Meet Gordon Crawford.
The Sunday before last, Gordon Crawford, the CEO of a five-truck Perth furniture removal company, sat down with his wife to make an unusual investment decision.
Gordon had just received an email from a mate telling him about the “Convoy of No Confidence”, a platoon of truckie convoys travelling from across the country to Canberra to call for a new election. A convoy was leaving Perth that Thursday. Did Gordon want to be a part of it?
Gordon had a right to have his voice heard. But his voice was scarcely heard because of the shock jock tactics of other protesters.
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