Thursday, May 22, 2014

Student Protests Erupt Over 'Pay To Learn' - 3 Police Needed To Carry Away One High School Girl

Headline altered/improved by @SpuriousReasons
 Thousands of students took to the streets of Australian cities yesterday to protest Budget 2014 education cuts and deregulation of universities that will result in many of them paying $10,000s, or in some cases, more than $100,000 for university degrees.

Nearly all student protesters were non-violent, there were scuffles with police, but they were in the vast minority. In some cities, there were no confrontations with the police at all. PM Abbott predicted "a riot" and it didn't happen.

The Daily Telegraph is its usual balanced self:

Meanwhile, the Herald Sun served up some outrage at female high school protesters, but gave them the chance to speak, which they did well:
Teenage schoolgirls were carried away by police and more than a dozen people were arrested when a rowdy city protest against the Federal Government’s Budget changes to higher education turned nasty.

Thousands of angry demonstrators choked city streets, blocking traffic and forcing the suspension of tram services for several hours on Wednesday.
Police had to move in and remove a group of protesters - some teenage schoolgirls in uniform - from tram tracks outside State Parliament.

The group had defied several police warnings to leave the Spring Street sit-in before officers acted.
Fellow protesters had also urged them to leave.

Victoria Police’s Inspector Paul Binyon ­expressed his disappointment at the clash, saying protesters hadn’t kept to an agreement about how they would behave.

“I was surprised at the age of some of them,’’ said Insp Binyon.

“One demonstrator’s parents actually turned up and took their child home.”
Probably this one, from the Herald Sun front page:

 Education Minister Christopher Pyne did his best to mock and insult the students, and stir them up even more:
“They (the protesters) should be buying a big bunch of flowers and a box of Roses chocolates, and finding a household near where they live where there’s nobody there with a university degree, and knocking on the front door, giving them the flowers and the chocolates, and saying, ‘Thank you for paying for 60 per cent of my university degree, so I can earn 75 per cent more than you over my lifetime’,”

“I take all their protests with a pinch of salt,” he said.
What an idiot.

The students speak.

Camberwell High School student Tallulah, 15:
“The budget cuts are wrong, I want to go to university and I don’t want to pay through the nose for it. If these fees get too high, I may not be able to go to university, which I want to do for my future and for my family’s future.”

One said there were as many as 30 students from her Footscray school at the protest.
“By the time we go to university, how are we going to pay for it?” she said.

Williamstown High School student Simona, 16, turned up with several schoolfriends.

“I think that whatever university a student decides to turn to should be purely based on their entrance (score), should be purely reliant on their score, as opposed to how much money they have,” she said.
“Education is a right. It’s not a privilege, it’s a right.”

Her friend Alice, 17, said: “I am here today because currently we are under the reign of an oppressive, ignorant, idiotic government.”

The Abbott government changes are hardcore. Universities can charge what they like for degrees, and graduated students will have to pay their government loan debts sooner, and with rising interest. Abbott and Pyne will also slash funds the universities get towards paying for certain courses.

It's the long road, of short steps, towards greater privatisation of Australia's education system, and the students know it.

La Trobe University student union president Rose Steele:
“I think it’s really important that secondary students are here, because secondary students are going to bear the ­absolute brunt of the deregulated system,’’ Miss Steele said.
“They are going to be the ones who will be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees.

“We will be coming out again and again.”
Reaction from student protesters on social media after the protests was jubilation, excitement and empowerment. They'd also had a lot of fun. They felt they had achieved something, the protests were mostly non-violent, in videos the police came across as rougher than the protesters, and they have what seems like the vast majority of the public on their side. Comments pouring onto news sites through the night were about 90% in favour of the students taking action to protest the Abbott government changes to the price of getting a decent education in Australia.

Melbourne #May21Protest, image via @RedDragon1917
And to close, Never Ask A Studio Protestor In A Live TV Interview What Her T-Shirt Says

15 year old student protester Tallulah, quoted above, gets targeted by Murdoch's Herald Sun. They're going after teenage girls who criticise Abbott now? Despicable.

The Herald Sun's frantic attempts to disparage the student protesters reaches a new level of absurdity. They are utterly gormless:

The students were protesting because they want to get degrees, and believe Abbott and Pyne's changes to university fees and deregulation will make it much harder for them to do so.

Murdoch sure employs some morons these days.

More To Come