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Red Tape
April/May 2007

Rockiní For Rights strikes right chord

Sunday 22 April was the day that all roads and forms of transport seemed to lead to Hyde Park in Sydney.

Entire families and people from all walks of life emerged from Town Hall, St James and Museum Stations as did a sea of union banners, Your Rights at Work t shirts and associated merchandise plastered with anti-John Howard slogans.

After a number of speeches about 11am during which a few drops of rain ominously but only briefly fell, the huge rally moved to College Street to begin the march to the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Rockin' For Rights concert.

The huge procession, which was estimated to be more than 40,000 people, brought the city to a standstill.

Despite it being an almost 45 minute jaunt, enthusiasm built rather than waned as the enormous crowd wound its way to the SCG with chants against the Howard Government and the industrial relations laws shouted loud and proud.

To give some idea of the size of the rally, which included a large and highly visible contingent of PSA flags and t shirts, more than half an hour after the head of the march arrived at the SCG, the crowd was still pouring into the Moore Park area.

There were plenty of characters of course like the Ned Kelly look-a-like who was carrying a defiant sign demanding that the IR laws be outlawed with the quote "And no one single hand will break the iron bars, there's a thousand like Ned Kelly who'll hoist the flag of stars."

Elsewhere were two girls on towering stilts who were skilfully navigating their way through the crowd.

The concert itself was most prominently MC'd by Peter Garrett - who received the most rousing reception from the crowd of any of the stars on the day - and Little Patti.

And the music was every bit as loud as the crowd had been on the way to the SCG.

The performers who contributed their time were The Urban Guerillas, The Screaming Jets, Dallas Crane, Richard Clapton, The Whitlams, Magic Dirt, Beasts Of Bourbon, living treasure of Australian music, Kev Carmody who also proved himself to be one of the most heartfelt speakers of the day, Missy Higgins, The Herd, Mark Seymour, Youth Group and Something For Kate.

Hoodoo Gurus included a searing version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Fortunate Son - a vicious attack on lives of privilege - in their set while You Am I hosted the finale with a version of Rose Tattoo's anthem, We Can't Be Beaten which summed up the mood of the day perfectly.

The best of all, the expected heavy rain which threatened late in the day, didn't really materialise until much later in the cvening, long after the SCG had emptied and fallen silent.


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