At 1pm today, protesters from various Melbourne universities converged on the Town Hall to protest the increases to the HECS-HELP scheme proposed by the federal government.
Led by Students Fighting For Change (SFFC) president Matt Hampton, the “peaceful protest with a clear message” aims to intercept Prime Minister Tony Abbot during a conference on public transport.
The situation rapidly escalated as students rushed Mr Abbot as he left the Town Hall, forcing a police blockade after he was hit by a thrown drink bottle. Protestors also tried to enter the conference but were repelled by mounted police.
Under the new “draconian” budget students risk paying up to 30% more in course fees, restricting the accesibility of universities and further increasing the debt of the next generation of workers.
“We want to let the Abbot Government know this budget is unworkable and totally unfair to students” said Matt Hampton. “Students simply cannot afford to pay these exorbitant fees even after they graduate. [We] will not be held to ransom!”
A variety of speakers from Melbourne, Monash, Deakin and Latrobe and RMIT universities will also be present to make a case against the proposed budget.