Friday, 14 February 2003
I've just got back from the Peace Rally in Melbourne. I phoned a friend who watched it on the news and she gave me these estimates of the attendance figures:
Channel 10: 10 - 15,000.
Channel 7: 15 - 20,000.
Channel 2: 100,000.
The only comment I'll make on the numbers is that well before I started walking anywhere (I was on the corner of Swanston and Little Lonsdale, counting the Spartacists) the head of the march already looked like it had reached Flinders Street. When I got to Bourke Street, I stopped and let it go past for a while: it still took up the whole of Swanston Street and I was told by a passing stranger that the tail still stretched to the John Curtin Hotel. That's a lot of people, way above what the commercial stations are estimating.
Still, the only reliable estimate I can offer is for the number of Sparts: by my count there were 4, 3 to carry the banner and one selling The Spartacist. Their banner took my personal prize for the most stupid slogan of the day. It was really more of a manifesto printed on cheap fabric and read:
Australian Military get out of Persian Gulf, East Timor: Hands off Indonesia. Defend Iraq Against UN/US/Australian Imperialist Attack.
I wonder if they realise why so many people were giving them such a wide berth.