NSW

March in May protest swells on budget outrage

There were budgie smugglers and oversized ears galore as thousands joined rallies across Australia to protest against Abbott government policies on Sunday.

As state and territory leaders attended an emergency meeting to discuss spending cuts, protesters gave voice to their own anger in capital cities under the banner of ''March in May''.

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There wasn't much but anti-Abbott sentiment to unite those gathered at Sydney's Belmore Park waving signs in support of everything from ABC funding and asylum seekers to artists and sharks.

The protests were a sequel to the March in March rallies held earlier this year and prompted by a conversation between five independent activists on Twitter.

While politicians were talked about a lot, they weren't allowed on the soapbox. Protest organisers said they turned down some offers from the Greens, the Labor Party and the Socialist Party to address the crowd.

Police estimated 8000 people gathered at the park but organisers claimed more than 50,000 had rallied by the end of the day. Several people who attended told Fairfax Media the crowd was between 10,000 and 12,000.

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Among them was Alice Beaumont who, at 86, wanted to show her concern about welfare cuts.

''I came here as a refugee from Nazi Germany. I am a lifelong supporter of human rights,'' she said.

While police estimated 8000 people gathered at the park before the march, organisers suggest more than 50,000 rallied by ...
While police estimated 8000 people gathered at the park before the march, organisers suggest more than 50,000 rallied by the end of the day. Photo: Jenny Evans

Blacktown resident Michelle Konnecke, who attended the protest with her daughter and granddaughter, said she was angry about GP co-payments.

The three attended the ''March in March'' protest and came prepared with a home-made placard saying: ''This sign is too small to list all their broken promises.''

Discontent: Thousands of people rallied and marched down Broadway from Belmore Park at Central to protest against ...
Discontent: Thousands of people rallied and marched down Broadway from Belmore Park at Central to protest against federal government policies. Photo: Jenny Evans

It was the hundreds of protest signs on display that stole the show - a mix of the funny, artistic and downright bizarre. They called for an ''Abbott proof fence'', an end to the ''nightmare on Abbott street'' and to ''stop the mad Wabbott''.

While some had been busy preparing placards, Edna Dashwood was taking an afternoon stroll with her two children when she stumbled upon ''all these left-wing hippies hanging about. I wouldn't say I'm left-wing or right-wing - I'm in the centre wave. We'll march if they start talking about anything we feel passionate about. I am more concerned with changes that affect workers rather than those to do with welfare,'' Ms Dashwood said.

After listening to six speeches-cum-rallying cries, the protesters stopped traffic and were accompanied by the melody of car horns as they marched to Victoria Park.

For some, the two kilometre hike proved to be too much. Seven-year-old Joel Hallifax stopped halfway for a rest.

A protester holds a placard depicting Tony Abbott.
A protester holds a placard depicting Tony Abbott. Photo: Jenny Evans

''It's a long walk for someone his age,'' his mother Clare said. ''I'm here because … we don't know what our country is becoming.''

For those who made it all the way there were dance circles with music roaring from a device Mr Abbott himself might enjoy: a bike-powered sound system.