Tens of thousands of protestors descended on Victorian Parliament today to rally against the Federal Government’s budget.
Bourke Street, in Melbourne’s CBD, was flooded with students, firefighters and trades workers who took part in the “Bust the Budget” protest.
There was also a heavy union presence in the estimated crowd of 40,000 who marched from the Trades Hall to Parliament House on the corner of Bourke and Spring Streets.
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said the budget was cruel and an attack on ordinary people and the Australian way of life.
“Generations of Australians have fought hard to establish working conditions and dignity at work. They have struggled hard to build a better life and a decent society, to educate our children and to care for our sick and to look after our elderly,” he said.
“But now we have a prime minister that is keen to keep the billionaires happy, and he is willing to pull all that down regardless of the cost to workers and their families.
“Why should the people who can least afford it be forced to take the hit?”
“We have never before seen a government try to destroy the jobs of Australians like this government has,” he told the crowd.
“They are trying to change our commitment to a fair go, our commitment to justice, our democratic right to organise. They think they are going to get away with it. We say they ain’t.”
United Voice Victorian secretary Jess Walsh said workers were angry.
“We’re angry at a government that wants to make us work harder and work longer for less money and we are here today because we deserve better, and we are here on the streets with you today because we are ready to fight,” she said.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) firefighter and United Firefighters Union member Andrew Morton said that the latest budget had impacted him personally and professionally.
“At any given point in time there’s 279 firefighters on duty. They want to take that away, they want to take away our minimum staffing,” said Mr Morton.
“If there are not enough people available, they’ll just shut stations and take trucks out of commission,” he said.
Mr Morton said the federal budget cuts to early learning funding as well as university fee hikes would affect his children’s education.
“When you have a look at the future for your children, of course you say ‘you’ve got no hope on a personal level’, because they’re not going to have the fair start that I had.”
Australian Services Union member Cameron Wright said that the Abbott Government budget also negatively impacted his family.
“Some of these proposed cuts in the budget will affect my family in terms of Family Tax Benefit B… I’ve got ageing parents as well that are retirement age and the pension is going to affect them.”
Kev (who did not want to give his last name) a student from the suburb of Sandringham, said Mr Abbott’s budget was hurting everyone.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a multimillionaire or someone with no money, he hurts everybody,” said Kev.