About 130 students from universities across Victoria, including RMIT, protested against cuts to education funding and university fee deregulation on the State Library lawn.
Attendees unleashed their anger at a Tony Abbott piñata, which eventually spewed chocolate coins across the State Library steps, while onlookers cheered them on with a rousing chorus of “no ifs, no buts, no education cuts”.
The crowd marched through Swanston Street, down Bourke Street and on to Parliament, escorted by a police guard which nearly outnumbered the protesters.
NUS president Rosie Steele led the Melbourne event and said holding co-ordinated protests on campuses across the country is the most effective way get students’ voices heard in parliament.
“Our tactics work, we know it. This has been shut down twice, and we’ll see it shut down a third time if we have to,” Steele said.
The 2015 budget revealed the government has no plans to alter its fee deregulation policy, despite opposition from a hostile Senate.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the government is “deeply committed” to its higher education reforms, and the package will be brought back to parliament for a third try later this year.