-by David Charlesworth
Defying the weather, approximately 80 students and teachers voiced their outrage over the Federal Budget in the CBD this afternoon. At about 2pm protesters marched into Forrest Chase to protest the cuts to tertiary education in the Federal Budget.This coincided with a number of protests planned around the country as part of a National Day of Action.
Sporadic rain throughout the day did not stop the protesters making themselves heard said Curtin student and the rally’s MC Miranda Wood.
“Clearly not because we’re all here, we’re all out in our numbers and I think that this shows that students are determined to make their voices heard,” she said.
Representatives from the three largest WA universities spoke, as well as representatives of the National Tertiary Education Union and National Union of Students. WA Senators Sue Lines of Labor, and Scott Ludlum of the Greens spoke their piece, decrying the impact the cuts will have. Ludlum made an argument for using levy revenues found in the corporate sector and particularly mining interest which have had taxes lessened.
“We’ve managed to block start-up scholarships being turned into a loan, scholarships are obviously implemented because the dole is not enough for students to live on,” Ms Wood said.
“The $435 million cuts, which were of Labor’s own architecture have been blocked in the Senate and it looks as if the Bill which is to be put in seven days time will also not get through.”
The tent pole issue the students and teachers were fighting was the aim of the Government to follow the American system of tertiary education. Students were arguing the danger of privatising the tertiary system, which would raise fees, increase class sizes and increase the weight of HECs debts. Representatives from the universities also spoke out against the closing of undergraduate courses Murdoch’s Rockingham Campus and issues of censorship on the UWA campus concerning the Gaza conflict. Melbourne comedian Greg Fleet took part capping off the speeches with his set.
The Protesters finished off the rally by marching out of the plaza and down William Street.