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Takver's Soapbox | Melbourne, 13 April 2003
Vicpeace poster advertising the rally

March for Peace in Melbourne Palm Sunday
13 April 2003

About 25,000 people marched in the Palm Sunday rally in Melbourne today to voice their continuing opposition to the war in Iraq.

With threatening thunderstorms many people ventured to Treasury Gardens for a Palm Sunday Peace Rally. Other people attended an ecumenical service in Federation Square.

At 2.20pm the march left Treasury Gardens down Finders Street. It met up with the people from the ecumenical service at Federation Square. The intersection of Swanston and Flinders was packed with people, with the crowd extending motionless up to Russell street while more people arrived. The march started up Swanston Street, while people were still coming down Flinders before Russell St.

The thunderstorm struck and torrential rain started at about 3.30pm while the march was proceeding up Bourke St. This had the effect of dispersing the crowd on to the footpaths under awnings, while a hardy few continued in the rain.

While some commentators put the numbers attending at up to 50,000 at the rally and march, probably 25,000 to 30,000 was a more accurate figure. In the meantime, the mainstream media heavily underestimated attendance numbers.

Bias in Mainstream Media Coverage

Mainstream media reports underestimated crowds in Melbourne substantially. The ABC reported:

In Melbourne, between 5,000 and 8,000 people marched before heavy rain dispersed the crowds.

The Sydney Morning Herald Report was even worse:

And in Melbourne, about 5000 people joined Palm Sunday peace marches. The march commenced with two rallies in the city - a secular gathering at Treasury Gardens in Spring Street and an ecumenical church service at Federation Square, both starting at 2pm. After hearing speakers in Treasury Gardens, more than 3500 marchers walked down Flinders Street to meet about 1500 others who had attended the service in Federation Square. The two events, jointly organised by the Victorian Peace Network and the Victorian Council of Churches, then joined together for a march though the city streets, ending up back at Treasury Gardens.

The SBS report was brief but far more accurate with numbers in attendance:

Meanwhile, more than 20 thousand people joined Palm Sunday peace marches through Melbourne. The march commenced with two rallies in the city - a secular gathering at Treasury Gardens in Spring Street and an ecumenical church service at Federation Square.

Don't believe everything you read in the mainstream media, even about Peace marches in Australia, and use a variety of sources for a more accurate interpretation of events.

To give you an idea of the size of the crowd the following panorama shot pans from Flinders Street Station up Flinders street past Russell Street.

Panorama of march - Click for enlargement 187kb
Panorama of march at Federation Square - Click for enlargement 187kb

Head of March
No war on Iraq - Head of March

Peace at What Price?
Carrying palm branches and placards with photos of children
- "peace at What Price?"

Bush Global Dictator
With grey thunderstorm clouds gathering overhead
people accuse: "Bush Global Dictator"

marching in the rain
While most people sort shelter from the torrential
rain unleashed by the thunderstorm,
a hardy few continued to march up Bourke street.

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