Boiling point: Riot police battle to take control after thousands of student protesters shut down Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in mass demonstration over education budget cuts
23 May, 2014
23 May, 2014
Chaos broke out in the streets across Australia this afternoon as police clashed with thousands of students protesting the Abbott goverment's changes to tertiary education funding announced in the recent federal budget.
A massive contingent of police officers struggled to contain the masses as they chanted crude slogans including 'bull****, come off it, our education is not for profit,' reported The Age.
Melbourne saw the most tense conflict, however demonstrations in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane also exploded in violence and chaos.
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Thousands of student protesters took to the streets in cities across the country to protest cuts to federal government spending on higher education
Police scuffled with protesters in Sydney's CBD as they protested the Abbott government's budget cuts
On for young and old: A girl in a school uniform was carried away from the crowd by police in Melbourne
Victorian police arrested 13 people in Melbourne who will receive court summons 'in due course' for offences relating to obstructing roadways and footpaths.
NSW police confirmed at least two arrests were made in Sydney, with a 20-year-old man remaining in police custody and likely to be charged for allegedly lighting a flare.
The protests caused traffic chaos for commuters around the country, with the Melbourne CBD all but shut down and a northbound lane closed on Sydney's George Street at peak hour.
Just after 5pm, all roads through the city had re-opened. The Transport Management Centre said southbound buses using George Street were delayed up to 15 minutes, and northbound buses on Elizabeth Street were delayed up to 10 minutes.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young was spotted with senate hopeful Adam Bandt holding a sign that read 'A first degree shouldn't cost a second mortgagee.'
Students are protesting the deregulation of university fees, which they argue could make popular courses at the best universities available to the rich, rather than to the deserving
Two people were arrested in Sydney yesterday after thousands of people took to Sydney's streets to protest the cuts
Nabbed: A student protesting cuts to the education budget is moved on by police in the Sydney CBD
In an email sent by UTS vice chancellor Ross Milbourne to students, it was announced any assignment due on Wednesday would be given a one-day extension.
'Rest assured that UTS will not penalise any student who miss class because they choose to participate in the rally,' he wrote.
The demonstrations dominated Sky News coverage shortly after 4pm, with vision beamed out of the Victorian capital of students being carried away by riot police and others stubbornly forming barriers on the city's famous tram tracks.
This protester was arrested by riot squad police as he marched through Sydney streets protesting budget cuts to higher education
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney said that the deregulation of university fees could lead to a class war with poorer students locked out of university
Surrounded: Young protesters blocked trams from operating in Melbourne
Nine News reported that the protesters 'charged' at officers, while a number of roads in the Melbourne CBD had to be closed to traffic.
Dozens of officers on horseback were on scene to keep the rowdy mob under control, but visibly stuggled.
Prime minister Tony Abbott was forced to cancel a scheduled visit to Deakin University due to the demonstrations.
Bummer: A protester is moved on from Spring Street, near the Victorian parliament house
Pandemonium: Protesters took to the tram tracks in Melbourne in a display against the Abbott budget
Unruly mob: Sydney's George street was overflowing with placard-carrying youths
Vocal: Many protesters used megaphones to get their message across
Clash: The protesters became violent with police in many instances
Face off: The rallies were a huge strain on police resources
Stampede: Student protesters take hold of the Melbourne streets on Wednesday
A Sydney man arrested for picking up an already-lit flare was 'bundled to the ground by about six police officers,' AAP reported.
Literally hundreds of police officers wearing fluoro vests packed the streets around
Melbourne's parliament house as the youths marched against cuts to the education budget.
In Queensland, similar scenes led to the shutting down of chunks of the Brisbane CBD. In Canberra, furious young men and women banged on the windows of government buildings.
Red army: Some people took to social media to label the protesters 'socialists'
Man and beast: Police patrolling on horseback tried to keep the crowds under control
Picket line: Hundreds of police officers watched over the protesters around Melbourne parliament house
But it was in Melbourne that the chaos reached its highest pitch as university and TAFE students were carried away from the crowd by the dozen.
'And again Melbourne proves itself as the protest capital of Australia. Imagine if they had something worthwhile to protest about!' Tweeted Randall Gillespie.
Some demonstrators seemed to forget what they were aiming to achieve, prompting Channel 9 reporter Jayne Azzopardi to Tweet: 'And now we actually have protesters protesting that they want to be able to protest. Seriously.'
Tens of thousands of protesters around the country were estimated to have joined in the displays.
Pandemonium: The protests virtually shut down massive chunks of Australia's biggest cities