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Meet the average March In March protester

Scenes from March in March rally in front of Parliament House in Canberra. Click for more photos

March In March Canberra

Scenes from March in March rally in front of Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

A well-educated GetUp member concerned about asylum seekers, the environment and the behaviour of Tony Abbott - meet the average March in March protester.

Tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrations across Australia to protest a grab bag of issues mid-last month, generally united by a dislike of the policies of the Coalition government.

Researchers from the University of Canberra's ANZSOG Institute for Governance used Facebook to survey more than 1020 people who attended the marches to find out who they were and why they decided to attend.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Michael Jensen, an expert on social movements and political participation, said those associated with March in March may have been disillusioned with formal political parties.

When presented with a list of reasons for attending and asked to select those which applied to them, more than 85 per cent of protesters chose the treatment of asylum seekers.

Dr Jensen said the same proportion chose environmental concerns as one of their reasons for being involved in March in March, with “the behaviour of Tony Abbott” the third most commonly chosen response.

“It wasn't a specific policy issue, but something about his style, his way of interacting and presenting himself to the Australian public,” he said.

Dr Jensen he was surprised to find Getup was the most common political association held by the surveyed protesters, with more than 37 per cent as identifying as members, even though the event was not arranged or promoted by the activist organisation.

Just 11 per cent were the member of a political party, while 15 per cent were members of a trade union.

Dr Jensen said given the protests was directed against the government, traditionally the main opposition party or a formal left of centre political group would have a significant, vocal role in their organising, but in this case they did not.

“There does seem to be a particular segment of the population that Getup represents in some way, even if they don't officially organise them, that's perhaps not represented by any of the parties either,” he said.

Dr Jensen said while the treatment of asylum seekers was an issue commonly spoken about in Australia, but both major parties were united in presenting strong policies on offshore processing and insisting refugees had no guarantee of being settled in Australia.

“It may be the case that [protesters] don't see an avenue for their interests being articulated in the major parties, either in the opposition or the government, so perhaps they feel they need to mobilise by other means that do not depend on some formal organisational structure to get their views out there,” he said

Protesters were also more educated than the general population, more than half had a bachelor degree or higher, the survey found.

14 comments

  • "Well educated"? Depends on how you define education. No wonder Australia seems to be falling behind in international comparative testing.

    Sounds more like indoctrination rather than education, and probably does a lot to devalue a bachelor degree and highlight the groupthink that uni's churn out, particularly in the 'social sciences.'

    I notice the photos included didn't show the extreme ones calling for Tony Abbott to be killed and other abusive tripe. You know, the type of thing that if it happened to Gillard would have seen the Left frothing at the mouth?

    And where were all these 'marchy marchers' when 1200 people died under the Labor/Green boat people failure government? Hypocrites!

    I guess "I'm here protesting that Abbott and Morrison have saved asylum seekers lives" might not go down to well in the inner city organic fair trade goat cheese circle.

    Commenter
    Cam
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    April 08, 2014, 2:39PM
    • @Cam I agree. So they do not like the policies of theis govt. We had a govt that liked to spend on the never never. Always in the media. Telling we are a ficial gurus. But when somebody comes in an tries to rein in the spending because everybody is wants a give country. You only have to look at the European countries that are in financial trouble, we may end up like that. How many of these had jobs or are at uni.

      Commenter
      Hardarse
      Date and time
      April 08, 2014, 3:23PM
    • @ Hardarse, Of course places like Sweden and Germany are complete failures in comparison to Australia. They don't have high living standards, High wages, Social welfare, High quality manufacturing, A car industry. In Sweden's case being a country of only 9 million (We are 22 million). There is Volvo, Saab, Scania, Ikea, Ericsson etc etc. Oh and for the Tea Party looney club's benefit they also have a successful mining industry. Stop wearing the southern cross and believing everything that Gina, Palmer, Stokes and Murdoch tell you. They are rich but the average Australians living standard will keep plummeting while they hire foreign workers on 457 visa to save themselves even more money. Try reading about the rester of the world instead of watching the Block 24/7.

      Commenter
      David
      Date and time
      April 08, 2014, 4:23PM
    • @Cam, The big end of town has hundreds of PR people getting first on the comments page, pretending to be average decent Joe. There is nothing more frightening to them, than mass spontaneous political protests showing up all over the world. So lets trivialise them and give them no media coverage for the thousands that protested due to personal beliefs of decency and moral conviction. Instead when 200 complain about the carbon tax its front page news! I was at the Katoomba protest, we were thanked by the local police for our good behaviour. I did not see any threatening and disgusting banners like the carbon tax rally.

      Commenter
      David
      Date and time
      April 08, 2014, 4:40PM
    • Actually cam - as somebody who attended the rallies - here is my stats - university educated in commerce currently studying an MBA - six figure salary in a senior position in a Multinational. Not a member of a political party or union . I disagree with both parties on asylum seekers and the trashing of the environment - (like Tony abbott my mother was an economic refugee from the UK - so I'm the child of a refugee)
      i want a countrywhere the air is always pure, the water clean and where our reefs, forests, flowers and animals flourish. Sharks, barrier reef and old growth forests should be left alone.
      A country where no family needs to choose between food or heat in winter, where our healthcare is free and our education is taught by the smartest and our teachers are appreciated for their efforts .
      A country where those who want to work can find employment and be treated fairly with no age, sex or racial discrimination, where anybody can marry anybody - same or opposite sex.
      I want a country that creates stuff, is innovative and leads the world in science, medicine, maths, literature and economics and the talented stay here in Australia rather than heading I want a country that welcomes those not born here with the same open arms that they greeted my family with, when they arrived 65 years ago.

      Abbott stands for none of the above - i want a government who does, 30 years ago- Australia understood the above- I believe the greens understand it now. I will fight everyday to have it back and fight everyday for a fair go for all - not just for the wealthy miners and capitalists.

      Commenter
      michelle
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      April 08, 2014, 4:42PM
  • Only 15% members trade union, Only 11% members of political party, Protesters generally better educated than average. Mmmmm OH I bet they drink a lot of COFFEE!!!!!???

    Commenter
    Right wing nut
    Date and time
    April 08, 2014, 2:40PM
    • Is there any way this group can be marginalized? We should at least try. : )

      Commenter
      ray pace
      Location
      narrabeen
      Date and time
      April 08, 2014, 3:03PM
      • Serving and retired bureaucrats. Ho hum. Use my name team, if it's 'not in yours'. I voted for TA and I'll continue to vote for him. Marvellous run so far, including enflaming the Bolly Brigade.

        Commenter
        iain russell
        Location
        Singapore
        Date and time
        April 08, 2014, 3:18PM
        • "...more than half had a bachelor degree or higher..."

          Gosh, well then we must not think of them simply as protesting rabble because - obviously - with a bachelors degree they are clearly made of intelligent stuff; the liberal arts are tough degrees you know...and having studied liberal arts at university they haven't any leanings toward the Left-wing or Socialism...oh...wait...

          Commenter
          Xolin
          Date and time
          April 08, 2014, 3:27PM
          • Educated= that have bachelor degrees in Marxism and Basket weaving and Ph.Ds. in 17th Century Belgian Lesbian Studies.

            Commenter
            Richo
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            April 08, 2014, 3:45PM

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