Make Education Free Again: a photo story.

On Dit reports from the grounds of the Student Protest.

Around 120 people turned up to the steps of State Parliament today to protest cuts to Centrelink, penalty rates, and to urge politicians to make education free again. The rally marks the culmination of one of Australia’s peak student representative body, the National Union of Students most pushed campaigns for this year.

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Meeting at the Hub’s wooden steps, Education Officer Daniel Neser MC’d the array of speeches made in favour of free education from a number of other SRC members who all echoed the same sentiment that the Government has the money to make education free and thus it is something which is feasible. This was briefly met by a heckle by an onlooker walking with his mate dressed in Ralph Lauren who shouted that ‘The money has to come from somewhere!’

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After a brief protest outside the Hub, members of the Labor factions, the Socialist Alternative, and bemused onlookers marched to the steps of Parliament House chanting the left-wings greatest hits. The streets of North Terrace were filled with bangers such as “no cuts, no fees, no corporate universities”, “Bullshit! Come off it! Our education is not for profit!”, and “Education should be free, not just for the bourgeoise”.

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The Adelaide Uni cheer squad met up with the Flinders Uni and UniSA cheer squads who all met to chant some more and protest. Daniel Neser and USASA President Kayla Dickeson both spoke about how education should be a right to students no matter where they’re from and that access to this education should be equal amongst all students.

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Speaking to On Dit, National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) SA Division Secretary, Ron Slee, said that they are “strongly behind students because if universities are properly funded, students will be able to keep up without having unnecessary financial pressure.” He later remarked to the crowd that cuts to education puts a strain on both students and teaching staff due to job security concerns.

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Seemingly forgetting that she wasn’t at a SAlt rally, Tammy Franks MLC (Greens) went to town on past Labor Governments for failing to do anything to make education free again. Scanning the protest, the looks on all the Labor hacks’ faces told me that they weren’t taking to kindly to her sentiment. Whether her focus on Labor has anything to do with her run-in with Paul Keating in 1996 where he famously told her to ‘get a job’ after protesting against him, we’ll never know.

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In a prepared statement to On Dit, Adelaide University Liberal Club President, Leighton McDonald-Stuart shared a few thoughts. He remarked that while the Liberal Club supports the rights of students to protest, he believes “it’s pretty clear from the poor turnout that students believe these protests are unnecessary…education is not free and can never be free. Someone always has to foot the bill.”

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The NUS is expected to respond to a possible announcement by Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham regarding fee deregulation. In a press release sent out in late January, NUS Education Officer, Anneke Demanuele said that “If the government attempts any more attacks to university funding, if it attempts to reintroduce fee deregulation or tries in any way to move legislation that puts students in the cross-hairs, we will fight back.

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Nicholas Birchall, Felix Eldridge, Taylor Fernandez and Larisa Forgac. Email us at onditmag@gmail.com

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