Photo - Harriet Conron

Student protestors scuffle with police outside NAB bank

by Harriet Conron | @harrietconron

Inside, Education Minister Christopher Pyne was entertaining guests at his book launch, titled A Letter to my Children.

But outside, police were forced to smash the bank’s glass doors as student protestors blockaded the entrance.

Students who had jammed themselves into the cavity of the double revolving doors were forcibly ejected by police.

Half an hour before, Secretary of the Australian Liberal Students Federation Matthew Lesh confronted protestors as he tried to enter the book launch he was invited to. The protest was organised by the National Union of Students, of which Lesh is General-Secretary of the Victorian branch. Lesh won the General-Secretary position uncontested at last year’s National Union of Students conference.

Meanwhile, fellow NUS member Declan Murphy said it was ironic Pyne’s book was called ‘A letter to my children’, because his children would be the only young people able to afford university under the proposed reforms.

Murphy is the Victorian Education Officer of the NUS, and has been responsible for organising regular protests in Melbourne.

“Its a telling sign of where the Liberal party lines up in Australia, he’s launched it in a bank guarded by rows and rows of police officers, keeping people who are critical of his policy out while letting sycophantic people, obsequious people who support his policy in,” Murphy said.

“I think it shows what the Liberal party is all about, really.”

Several members of the Socialist Alternative who tried to purchase tickets to the event claimed they were denied entry upon arrival, and had their tickets refunded.

After tempers cooled, protestors marched out along the Southern Cross Station concourse chanting ‘no cuts, no fees, no corporate universities’, flanked by police.

Some protestors were outraged by the heavy police presence, accusing police of protecting “Liberal scum”.

One man was shouting into a megaphone about police brutality, claiming they used “chemical weapons” on anti-racism protestors at a recent Reclaim Australia rally – a reference to pepper spray.

Murphy said he was pleased to see a new generation of activists had been united by hatred for the Abbott government.

* An earlier version of this article said Prime Minister Tony Abbott was in attendance at the event, he was not.

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