Police and protesters await the PM's arrival.
Police and protesters await the PM's arrival. Northern Star

Protesters line-up for PM

NO pollie's visit to the Northern Rivers would be complete without a protest.

And Lismore pulled out all the stops yesterday when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Health Minister Nicola Roxon hit town with Page MP Janelle Saffin and Richmond MP Justine Elliot.

A festival of protests awaited Mr Rudd and his pollie posse when they reached the University Department of Rural Health on Uralba Street, with intense and colourful lobbying from cannabis activists, rail group Trains On Our Tracks, Southern Cross University students, and opponents to Kyogle/Tweed's Repco Rally all hoping to impress the PM - or at least the TV cameras.

SCU student union vice-president Supatra Raffan said she threw together a modest protest crowd at short notice, but conceded she was not certain the students had yet even taken their concerns to the local Federal MP, Janelle Saffin, before deciding to bail up the Prime Minister.

Not that it would have made any difference.

“We're grabbing an important moment,” Ms Raffan said. “We really want to get our message across.”

Also quick to join the protest party was Trains On Our Tracks head Karin Kolbe.

Unlike Ms Raffan, Ms Kolbe was unable to find anyone to join her when she heard of the Prime Ministerial visit yesterday morning, but that didn't stop her grabbing a red shirt and protest placards as she raced out the door.

“There's no point having health services when people can't get there (on commuter trains) to use them,” Ms Kolbe declared, showing a skill for improvisation honed by years of campaigning.

Cannabis campaigner Michael Balderstone, whose group came backed with a giant inflatable joint and wore police-style 'Polite Force' jumpsuits, said he was arguing on a serious issue, but agreed his dope protesters did risk becoming a 'sideshow'.

“It really upsets me,” Mr Balderstone said.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU WANT TO SEND TO THE PM? Phone 6624 3266 or SMS 0428 264 948


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