Residents on the march to vent political frustration
SUNDAY'S March in March at Coffs Harbour should be a message to politicians that many residents don't like the way politics are being conducted.
One of the largest events of its kind seen in the city, the protest meeting attracted more than 1500 people to the Jetty Foreshores.
This was a startling result in a dyed-in-the-wool National Party seat, which has not elected a Federal Labor politician since the 1960s.
Perhaps the mood of the day was best summed up by one of the signs on display: "How did dinky-di Aussies elect these nitwits?"
Those present included everyone from true-blue Liberals to people who described themselves as "reds".
The ages of attendees was also the full spread, from teenagers to grandparents, with some very senior people waving signs and placards alongside young people, mums and dads.
MC for the day, Tony Black, said they were "totally stunned".
"We thought we might get a couple of hundred people - it's not the sort of thing people in Coffs Harbour are renowned for," he said.
March organiser Sandra Bonney said people had difficulty believing the event had been organised by just one concerned person, helped by a handful of friends.
The blogger and social media communicator said the numbers at the march, especially of younger people, had confirmed her belief that many were dismayed by the current direction of policies, and were particularly unhappy with some politicians.
"We want a dialogue on how we want our country to be run," Ms Bonney said.
Protesters listened to speakers on a number of topics, from the value of Gonski funding for Coffs Harbour High School to the need for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and the potential for pollution of Orara River catchment from gold mining.
The Abbott Government was accused of environmental destruction for economic gain, dismantling the nation's medical safety net, heartless treatment of asylum seekers, recklessly damaging Asian relations, and jeopardising Australia's future through cuts to education.
The mood opposed a government whose agenda was seen to be sacrificing fairness, compassion and concern for the environment.
Coalition 'getting nation on track'
COWPER MP Luke Hartsuyker says Australians voted for change at last September's federal election.
The Nationals' Mr Hartsuyker is the assistant minister for employment in the federal Coalition government led by Tony Abbott.
"All of last Sunday's protesters had the chance to vote six months ago on September 7, 2013 and some of them may not have liked the outcome," Mr Hartsuyker said.
"That is part of living in a healthy democracy.
"Australians voted for change and gave the Abbott government a mandate to get our nation back on track.
"The reality is we have inherited a mess but we are committed to getting the budget under control, cutting red tape, securing our borders and building a strong economy."