Students protest budget education ‘vandals’

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The National Union of Students (NUS) organised a national day of action on August 20 against the federal government's changes to tertiary education.

Students were protesting against the proposals in the federal budget that would lift the cap on fees, increase interest on HECS loans, and make changes to Newstart and Youth Alowance.

Up to 700 people joined the protest in Sydney. Students marched from the University of Technology, Sydney to Town Hall.

Students stopped the march on George St and burned a cardboard effigy of Pyne.

At Town Hall speakers denounced the government's education policy. The government's plans include deregulation of course fees, which would allow universities to charge as much as they like.

NUS NSW education officer Chloe Rafferty said: “The core thing we have to make sure we bury dead in the ground is deregulation. It is fundamentally about creating a US-style system, a system built on inequitable access to education.”

The National Tertiary Education Union UTS branch took strike action on the same day after negotiations with UTS management around an enterprise bargaining agreement stalled. Staff and students maintained a picket line in the morning and later joined the student rally.

In Melbourne, about 800 people rallied. Federal Greens MP Adam Bandt addressed the rally and said: "We are here to say to this government of vandals that wants to destroy what is good about this country, this is the voice of modern Australia, and we are angry at what you are doing and we will fight you until you stop us."

NUS Education Officer Sarah Garnham said: "Christopher Pyne's vision for Australia would see women pay 30% more than men to study, where people on Newstart live on nothing but sunshine and air, where Australia's history is whitewashed."

In Perth, about 100 people marched through the city and heard from speakers.

Rallies were also held in Brisbane, Newcastle, Cairns, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart.

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From GLW issue 1022