The corporate media and conservative politicians have made much of the failure to fill the ground, but the march was impressive:
In fact the numbers both in the ground and on the march proper were a bit misleading – not everyone who came to the MCG actually went inside, and it appeared many who did go in either did not know there was to be a formal march to Federation Square, or else did not feel able to wait for it. Certainly there were enough people hanging around outside the ground during the speeches to have filled quite a few of the empty seats – though of course nowhere near all – and around 10 o’clock so many people were streaming from the exits that it seemed the planned march and rally at the Square must have been cancelled. Even so, there were enough left to make what would in another context have been reckoned a very respectable turnout.
From my vantage points it seemed that the composition of the march was a bit different from previous rallies against Work Choices in that construction and other blue-collar workers, although solidly represented, were not so prominent, with the centre of gravity shifted more towards the health and welfare sectors, including a very strong representation of nurses, and above all, education. Probably no previous protest in this series has seen so many schools and educational establishments on the streets with their banners.
Apart from the big-name speakers and stage acts, the centrepiece of the action inside the ground was the removal of an overlay to the huge “Your Rights at Work – Worth Fighting For” banner on the turf so that the wording became “- Worth Voting For”, but the full effect of this was most likely only clear from the air. Otherwise, for many the highpoint was probably the speech from “HM the Queen” (Gerry Connelly), though Jimmy Barnes’ contribution was obviously popular with many. The march ended with further speeches and entertainment at Federation Square, but I only caught the very last dying moments.
(Photos from a camcorder: there is a video report of this event on EngageMedia.)