Something upwards of two thousand people of all ages assembled at the State Library to hear a succession of speakers condemn the Coalition Government’s attack on Medicare in its recent budget, before marching through the CBD to Federation Square. Jacob Grech, one of the organisers and a former member of Defend and Extend Medicare at the time of the Howard Government’s attempts to dismantle universal health care in Australia (see reports from the time here and here), recalled that the Federal Health Minister at that time was a certain Tony Abbott, and Catherine King, opposition spokesperson for health also commented that “[every] time the Liberals get into office, they try to destroy Medicare and this is the latest attack …”
The march down Swanston Street was timed for peak hour on a Friday, and the abnormally large police presence was possibly a reflection of safety concerns rather than an attempt to intimidate, although a post on the event Facebook page had reminded those planning to attend “that the Move on Laws (Summary Offences Amendments) were enacted several days ago”. Not that these amendments should impede lawful protest … Mainstream media covered the event, for example this report on the ABC – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-30/thousands-rally-against-medicare-co-payment-plan-in-melbourne/5490836, but the most detailed reports are on YouTube – see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvNbnVYcw5o, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyBbZ-VHpTE, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eu0eallhyt8 – all by LeftAndCorrect. The two clips posted here are intended to fill a gap, in the case of the speech by Catherine King, and extend coverage of the march itself.
One detail may need amplification: at the rally there was mention of the announcement by the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service that they would refuse to charge the new $7 co-payment. This met with huge applause. See also http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/health-service-facing-budget-blackhole-by-not-charging-copayment–20140527-zrpb7.html and http://indymedia.org.au/2014/05/22/wgar-news-this-budget-could-devastate-indigenous-australians-mick-gooda-abc-the-drum.
Catherine King’s speech:
From the rally and march: