University students across the country have protested against the federal budget’s cuts to higher education, following a call by the National Union of Students for a day of protest action.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne were forced to cancel a scheduled visit to Geelong’s Deakin University due to security concerns.
Their cancellation follows various demonstrations in the past week directed at Coalition politicians, with Julie Bishop and Sophie Mirabella being targeted while visiting Sydney University and Melbourne University respectively.
Jamila Rizvi wrote previously…
Ain’t nobody a fan of the budget.
If you’ve opened a newspaper, turned on a TV, been on social media or read a website this week, then you will know the Abbott Government’s first budget is about as popular as Vegemite 2.0.
The Coalition’s polling numbers are in free fall, opinion editors are falling over themselves to say Abbott and Hockey have played this wrong and we’ve seen practically universal negative coverage in the media.
Most of it has been civil, except for two university protests, which reportedly descended from peaceful dissent into mob-like intimidation.
The result being that these campaigners have achieved the exact opposite of what they intended – they’ve turned negative headlines about the budget into stories that frame dissenters as the bad guys.
At Sydney University on Friday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had to be removed from the building by security after reportedly being ‘jostled’ and ‘abused’ by protesters. Video footage from the event is patchy but does show the Foreign Minister’s path to the exit being blocked, and her person being tightly surrounded by a group of protesters yelling loudly at her.
It’s an ugly scene.
Similarly, at Melbourne University yesterday a lecture being delivered by former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was interrupted and Mirabella was apparently ‘mobbed’ by protestors. Police were called to eject people from the room before Mirabella was able to return (to applause from the remaining audience) and continue her speech. There are fresh reports today that Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne have cancelled a speaking event at Deakin University in Geelong because of planned protests.
Now, I am as incensed as the next person about this budget.
I think that by limiting the access of young people to unemployment benefits it will mean more 20-somethings sleeping rough. I think putting a financial barrier between low income earners and a doctor’s appointment will only increase the strain on our hospital system – because most illness is preventable by seeking medical attention quickly.
I think deregulating the university sector is a scary step towards a system that admits students according to the size of their parent’s wallets, not the scope of their individual abilities.
I think the ABC and SBS shouldn’t have to be scrambling and scraping to bring us the quality original programing we all want to watch.