National day of action on education

Wednesday, August 14, 1996


National day of action on education

spite grey skies and sporadic downpours, 4000 protested in Adelaide on August 7. Sidney Bay reports that buses arrived from suburban campuses and the Adelaide University contingent came into Victoria Square with hundreds of red flags flying.

The main chant was "Education not for profit, bullshit, come off it!", capturing the attitude of the rally as it marched to Senator Vanstones office.

From Brisbane, Ita Bredhauer writes that 3000 students and staff rallied as Kev Carmody sang and spoke on the benefits of accessible, quality education. A march to Waterfront Place and the offices of three Liberal senators followed. As the rally dispersed, eight demonstrators were arrested and the Tactical Response Group used violent and aggressive "crowd control techniques".

Martin Iltis reports from Canberra that in early morning freezing weather the NTEU held pickets at all four ACT institutions to kick off a 24-hour strike. An NTEU meeting marched on DEETYA offices with students from ANU and University of Canberra in a boisterous 2000-strong crowd, chanting "One struggle one fight, students and workers must unite!".

Motions passed by the meeting called on the NTEU national executive to develop a post-budget campaign of political and industrial action, and called for attendance at August 19 actions against new industrial relations legislation and the federal budget.

ACTU president Jennie George spoke, pledging ACTU support for the NTEU. CPSU delegate Paul Oboohov read out a motion of support from DEETYA workers.

Later, about 50 students stormed Liberal Party headquarters, occupying a conference room for an hour.

From Darwin, Tim Stewart relates that more than 100 students attended a lively and militant street march. Students gathered outside the Austudy offices while public servants inside stopped work. CPSU delegate Tom Flanagan addressed students, calling on the Greens, Democrats and ALP to block the budget.

The rally marched to the office of Nick Dondas, Country-Liberal federal member. Students were told that Dondas was too busy to attend a previously arranged meeting. He was visiting the Coonawarra Naval Base, highlighting the priorities of the federal government. A boisterous speak-out was held, including a message from Resistance urging support for pro-democracy activists in Indonesia. Although not calling a strike, the NTEU held a lunchtime stop-work meeting.

Sarah Stephen reports from Hobart that around 700 students gathered at lunchtime to hear a speak-out against the cuts. Five hundred also rallied in Launceston.

Alison Dellit writes from Melbourne that 6000 rallied at the Melbourne Town Hall, spilling into the aisles and out into the street. The pro-ALP platform of speakers jarred with the upbeat mood of the rally. People booed the ALP, and Adam Bandt from the TAFE sector received rousing cheers for attacking the record of the ALP in government.

The march was vibrant and noisy, with a multitude of drums and chants of " We've got to beat back Howard's attacks", and "When Amanda starts her trimmin'/ It will be much worse for wimmin./ Come on sisters join the fight/ Together we can beat the right."

NTEU members told Green Left Weekly that they were strongly opposed to the idea of their pay rise coming out of students' pockets.

From Newcastle, Alex Bainbridge reports that 800 students and staff gathered for a spirited rally, considerably more students than attended the first national day of action. Speakers condemned the cuts to education and called for further actions. A bus from Newcastle will join the cavalcade to Canberra for August 19.

In Perth, Corinne Glenn reports, 3500 rallied and marched. Speakers at the vibrant rally stressed the need for a broad and consistent campaign against the Liberals.

On Curtin University, the NTEU and student guild chose not to participate in the cross-campus rally, organising a separate meeting which attracted 40 academics. However, more than 200 students and staff went to the main rally in buses organised by Resistance and Student Action for Free Education.

Sarah Peart reports from Sydney that around 10,000 filled the streets in a rally even stronger than the first national day of action. The rally had a great feeling of collectivity as placards swayed to the singing of the Solidarity Choir. Paul Howes from Resistance spoke as one of the many high school students attending about the need to defend the higher education system for future generations.

Carolyn Alport, national president of the NTEU, said, "Our alliance with the students will continue and we will not allow fees, over-quota fees and rises in HECS to take place. We will continue to campaign alongside students and other unions."

John Nolan-Neylan, NUS NSW president, said, "The next step well probably have here is a phase of teach-ins to get more people informed about the broader thrust of the governments policies, of which education cuts are just one part. After the budget we need to keep the pressure on."

Nikki Ulasowski writes that around 70 students and staff attended picket lines in Wollongong before travelling to Sydney for a rally.

Laura Wilson, SRC president, said, "The most important myth to dispel is that the rallies have not achieved anything. The Liberals will have to package their education cuts differently and are likely to cut less than they originally said they would."

Resistance activist Michael Sloggett commented, "The key to a successful campaign is getting more students active and involved. This was how the student movement in the 1980s stopped the introduction of the higher eduction administration charge."

More than 1000 rallied in Lismore, the biggest demonstration in the region for 10n years. There were also protests of 800 in Armidale, 200 at La Trobe Universitys Bendigo campus, 300 at the Warrnambool campus of Deakin University, 150 in Cairns, 500 in Townsville and a small but vocal demonstration in Bunbury.