by Brendan Wrigley | @chewy980
Students have protested against Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s failed higher education reforms.
Students gathered at the State Library of Victoria on Wednesday to celebrate the failure of Pyne’s higher education reforms for the second time in four months.
Protestors proceeded to march around the CBD and finished at the La Trobe Street entrance to Bowen Street.
Police estimated 250 students attended, while protest organisers put the number at 500.
President of the National Union of Students (NUS) Rosie Steele said students would continue to oppose university fee deregulation.
“Christopher Pyne has said he’s never going to give up but students are never going to give up either,” Steele said.
Speaking at the event, National Tertiary Education Union President Jeannie Rea said the Coalition had an “unprincipled, unfair, unsustainable higher education agenda”.
“They want a very different society to the sort of society we want,” Rea said, and added the government “don’t want Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people getting degrees”.
RMIT Student Union President Himasha Fonseka said RUSU were present “to make sure that our message is clear”.
“We utterly oppose fee deregulation, we don’t believe it is the right way to go.”
Fonseka said RUSU would continue to support the NUS in opposing fee deregulation.
Speakers regularly mocked Christopher Pyne’s statement ‘you couldn’t kill me with an axe’ after he affirmed last week he would push on with his proposed education reforms.
Students from Deakin, La Trobe, RMIT, Melbourne and Monash universites were present among other members of the community; one protester even had their baby holding a sign bearing Pyne’s face.
While last year’s protests attracted senior level members of both Labor –including Shadow Education Minister Kate Ellis– and the Greens’ Adam Bandt, none were present today.
NUS State Education Officer Declan Murphy said the government’s proposed reforms meant “you could only go to university if you were born into a rich family”.
Protests were also held across the other state capitals and some regional campuses.
On The Australian Liberal Students Association’s Facebook page, a campaign titled ‘National Day of Learning’ was started to combat the protests.
Last week, the senate voted down the reforms but Pyne has promised to push through in the next budget in May.
Photos by Nathan Brown and Finbar O’Mallon