Student Protest at higher fees – 19 August

David Risstrom speaking at the State Library

Greens lead Senate candidate David Risstrom and Democrats leader [sic] Senator Natasha Stott Despoja were among speakers who addressed a rally in Melbourne […] with upwards of 200 students and supporters protesting at the Howard government’s higher education policies, especially increased fees. (The Age says 150 attended. There was a very large media presence, which doesn’t seem to have translated into publication; both stopping points on the march were heavily guarded by police.) Contingents from VCA, RMIT, Melbourne Uni, Vic Uni and others assembled at the State Library before marching first to the Town Hall, where a Senate inquiry was sitting on the question of whether Melbourne University Private should be eligible for Commonwealth funding. Here Senator Despoja was heckled by a small group of Liberal students; they were no match for her. The same group then ran ahead of the march to seize a vantage point at the rally’s ultimate destination, Hotel Sofitel on Collins Street, where a GO8 conference was in session. Here there were several minor scuffles involving the Liberal students, and towards the end of proceedings, when attention was focussed on the main body of the protest, in front of the line of police, one woman forced her way on to the tray-truck in an attempt apparently to grab the microphone. She was prevented, and police intervened, eventually dragging her away in the direction of a waiting paddy-wagon.
One of the contingents was representing the Osteopathy department at RMIT, who had walked out of classes for the day in protest at the University’s decision to restructure their 5-year course as a 3-year undergraduate degree – HECS-eligible – followed by a 2-year full-fee Masters degree – not HECS-eligible. An extra $29,000. Their slogan – Osteo today … who will be next?
The following shots are mostly self-explanatory:

Scene at State Library

At the State Library

Greens and Reds leading the march

Head of the march

Banner of Queer Bloc on the march

Also on the march

Anti-Howard placard

Time to Punish Howard

Natasha Stott-Despoja

Natasha Stott-Despoja at the Town Hall

Banner leading march -  Save our Unis, Kick out Howard

On the march again

Densely packed at Collins Place

At Collins Place

Some Liberal supporters

Liberal students at the back

Osteo banner - see above

Osteopathy Department protest

Liberal Students heckling from the back

More Liberal students (frame from video)

Liberal heckler caught in the crush

This one got caught up the front

Police remove woman from tray-truck

She tried to seize the mic when no-one was looking