Around 1500 hardy souls – students, staff, unionists and supporters – turned out in Melbourne yesterday to protest against the government’s VSU bill – in spite of the ominous weather forecast …
It would be hard to say how many were deterred from coming to the State Library by the forecast of snow and other things unfavourable to a successful rally. As it happened, the weather was fine, if cold, but it was pretty clear that none of those who did attend would have been put off by anything so trivial. Obviously a lot of work had gone into preparations: although some of the banners were familiar, creativity was still much in evidence. There was a strong Socialist Alternative presence, as at previous protests, but otherwise of political parties only the Greens were prominent. The VCA brought a corpse with the heart torn out, and Queer RMIT advocated mutiny…
Proceedings began with speeches outside the library, introduced by the indefatigable Rebecca Barrigos. Then a march via Liberal Party headquarters in Exhibition Street ending at the Flinders Street/Swanston Street intersection. On the corner of Bourke Street and Lonsdale a small group of Young Liberals was waiting with placards of their heroes; police quickly threw a ring around them as the march approached and there was no fodder for the mainstream media as in Sydney – although a couple of paint bombs were thrown, and it looked as if Howard copped a direct hit. More bombs were thrown during the pause outside the headquarters, and this time it was the police who copped (sorry…) the fallout. (While on the subject, some of the officers were obviously not entirely thrilled at getting a faceful of paint, the response was certainly restrained, and overall police struck me as showing something very like good humour throughout the whole event – there were even grins to be seen on some faces during the heckling of the Young Libs. It remains to be seen, of course, what happens to the paint-bomb thrower who was frog-marched across the street and had his name taken …) After a short halt the march resumed down Exhibition Street and so on to Flinders Street via Collins and Swanston, ending with an occupation of the intersection and final speeches, including a list of demands and a call for another rally on 25 August.
A recent cross-posting here under the heading “What is wrong with Indymedia?” faults reporting of protests for failing to properly examine the issues behind the protests, and making do with ‘a few blurry photos.’ That may be true of the sites the author has been following, but the charge can hardly be sustained against Melbourne. There has already been ample coverage of VSU and related student issues here [ie, on Indymedia], and more can be found on http://www.unistudent.com.au; hopefully these photos, while not the best, are at least not too ‘blurry’.
[Links in the original to material on the NUS website and a Geocities site devoted to anti-VSU campaigns are no longer valid.]
RMIT banner at State Library:
Wraiths at State Library:
VCA brought the corpse of student unionism:
Liberal Party Headquartes in Exhibition Street:
This one means business:
Coming down Swanston Street:
Roadblock at Flinders and Swanston Streets: