Facing some opposition: Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Is this Prime Minister Tony Abbott's convoy of no confidence? In the space of about a month, a community movement, angry about ''government decisions'' has sprung up online, amassing more than 26,000 ''likes'' on Facebook (well shy of Abbott's 272,000 ''likes'' but almost as much as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's 27,000).
As the Coalition weathers unpleasant polls and cranky criticisms about the way it has handled key decisions in its first five months, ''March in March'' is calling for more accountability, fairness and ''basic decency'' from the federal government.
So far, more than 20 protest marches are planned around the country next month, in places such as Armidale, Cairns, Geraldton, Mildura and all the capital cities. They will culminate in a rally in Canberra on March 17. Parliament will be sitting for its last week before the budget and organisers are expecting at least 1000 fed-up citizens to turn up.
The March in March Facebook feed is awash with photos Australians have submitted of themselves holding handwritten signs.
One shows a bearded young man in a Frenzal Rhomb T-shirt holding up ''maybe ABC news wouldn't seem so 'unpatriotic' if you weren't dehumanising refugees and spying on Indonesia! Not in my name Mr Abbott.'' Another shows an older lady holding ''Mess with Gonski. Not in my name Mr Abbott.'' Another features a small dog with its paws on a sign saying: ''Treating us Aussies like mushrooms. Not in my name Mr Abbott.''
Despite the obvious anti-Abbott theme, one organiser, Craig Batty - an e-learning developer in the Blue Mountains - says the marches are not directed at the Coalition per se but at the standard of government more generally.
March in March, which declares itself to be non-partisan and independent, sprang up through social media, around the idea that voters should be more engaged with the political process. Or, as the campaign material reads: ''We believe that contemporary Australia has political challenges that aren't as simple as just voting for one party or the other every few years.''
Batty is joined by five other organisers around the country and more than 100 volunteers. They are confident that at least 20,000 people will turn out for the marches next month. Co-organiser Chessy Collins, a travel agent from Armidale, agrees: ''I think we're going to see some pretty big numbers''.
With Facebook supporters growing at a rate of about 1000 a day, there is significant excitement within March in March. There has even been some talk comparing it to the moratoriums against the Vietnam War. There is also the recent experience of the Voice for Indi campaign to compare it to, where voters were similarly sick of two-party politics and the fact they weren't being listened to - and ended up with very tangible results.
So is this the start of a vocal community tide turning against the Abbott government, blighting its first full year in government? Should Abbott be afraid, very afraid?
Monash University politics lecturer Nick Economou is not so sure.
''They're wasting their time because there's a party that's already trawling these waters,'' he says. ''The Australian Greens … There really isn't much room for anybody else.''
Even outside of the party space, GetUp! is already running ''non-partisan'', progressive and highly targeted campaigns. They also have some 670,000 members.
Economou also cautions that disenchantment with government is not new. And that, at the moment, it is the right ''populist'' side of politics, rather than the left, that is ''on the march''. Just look at Clive Palmer and his PUPs.
Then there is the question of what exactly March in March is protesting about. The group is calling for respect for ''the diversity of Australian families'', ''our shared humanity and the rule of law'', ''expert opinion in science, technology and education'' and ''Australia's resources and heritage''. But how that shakes out is not clear. The group is proudly diverse and amateur and stresses that, during March, people will be protesting for many different reasons.
It is also working itself out on the go. Last week, March in March posted an online survey asking supporters to nominate what issue they will be marching for, to ''assist in providing an entirely accurate representation of supporters' concerns''. The more than 20 options include everything from ''secrecy at all costs'' to ''destroying the Great Barrier Reef'' and ''disregard for Australian production''.
In 2011, the much-hyped Convoy of No Confidence was supposed to stop traffic in Canberra in a powerful grassroots sign of unhappiness with the Gillard government. In the end, 200 vehicles turned up to what was a bit of a fizzer.
Batty is undeterred, however. He is confident the Canberra rally will easily surpass the convoy. It just remains to be seen what kind of consequence March in March will have.
♦ Judith Ireland is a Fairfax Media journalist.