There was a massive demonstration on the day the war started. The write-up in the Sydney Morning Herald made things clear:
"They poured out of city offices clutching briefcases and with makeshift banners printed on A4 paper from the desk computer demanding no war.
They marched with prams, dogs, on bicycles, carrying shopping and ice creams. Breastfeeding mothers, businessmen with wheeled luggage, doctors, schoolgirls, workmen in hard hats, fashionistas in high heels and low trousers, and large groups of university students were applauded by Thursday night shoppers and Japanese tourist groups."
On Thursday at 5PM thousands gathered at Sydney Town Hall to hear speakers comdemn the illegal actions of Bush and his favourite poodles - Blair and Howard. Demonstrators were drawn from a wide cross-section of workers and youth. Building workers, teachers and students mingled with office workers cheering speakers denouncing the imperialists. One speaker compared the event to the last time that workers poured out of offices and onto demonstrations in 1971 helping end Australia's involvement in Vietnam - this time is very different, this war is massively unpopular not at the end, when nearing defeat, but from the very beginning.
Another key was the number of Labor party supporters and placards on the demo. Crean, the party leader, has opposed the war - but his opposition is polite and legalistic, barely catching or representing the anger of workers and youth. Howard and the Liberals have forced Australian troops into a war against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Australians - Howard's version of democracy is shown to be a sham. It is time for Labor and Trade Union leaders to take the fight to Howard - the only way to end Australian involvement is to force the Howard government from power. Demonstrations are important - they display our strength and galvanise morale, but we need to move beyond demonstrating our power to putting that power into action. Workers and youth need to develop a campaign, including a strike movement that forces Howard to resign and fights for a government that represents the interests of the broad mass of Australians - the first step on this road is the call for a 24 hour general strike linked to occupations of schools, colleges and universities. If Crean and his bureoucrats are incapable of leading this movement, then new leaders will arise from Labor, Union and student ranks.
The next demonstration is on Sunday at 12:30, Belmore Park (near Central Station). The last weekend rally saw 300,000 take to Sydney streets - Sunday's demo will certainly be larger. This is the opportunity for the Labor, Trade Unions and the left to take the fight to Howard and launch a campaign that drives the Liberals from power.
By Mike Newman
March 21, 2003.
See other reports: 1
See also:On the outbreak of war - The hounds are unleashed. By Alan Woods (March 20, 2002)