We asked Paula Gowans, artist and member of the Kiama Cultural Board, to give us her impression of the anti-amalgamation rally in Sydney:
It is 1965, the protestors are climbing on board, ukuleles tuning, placards and banners occupy the few empty seats. Someone hands out the words to the songs and the chatter is all about outrage and optimism. Someone says, “OK everybody, let’s practice We Shall Not …… Fast forward to 2016. …be MERGED.”
Some of us on the train to Sydney to protest the forced amalgamation of Kiama with Shoalhaven are reliving a political past. Others are feeling the protest high for the first time. We commandeer a whole carriage.
Forming a human Kiama Wedge behind our big green banner, we surged to the front of a small stage in Hyde Park like we owned it. The Buskers organised themselves around the mic for a rousing opening of the event. Strum, strum. Everybody sing now: Like the lighthouse standing by the blowhole, we shall not be merged. LGAs from all over NSW are represented, including Shellharbour, Gundagai, Tumbarumba and assorted Sydneysiders. Fiery speeches on the idiocy of the amalgamations, bad faith of the process, and the importance of local democracy.
The Buskers did us proud by closing the proceedings. A good day to be from Kiama.