University students recently stormed the WA Perth office of Federal Defence Minister Linda Reynolds. They were protesting against the government’s prioritising of military spending over spending on education. Universities are facing historic funding cuts, with the Liberal government planning to double the cost of arts degrees and lower federal government funding to universities by $900 million. At the same time, the Liberals are pledging a $270 billion increase to the military budget.

Curtin Student Guild representation, Erin Russell said, “Students are appalled by the Liberals’ gutting of the education sector, which will see thousands of job losses and cuts to courses. The Liberals always cry poor when it comes to funding education, health or welfare, but will splash around billions when it comes to war and weapons.”

Phoebe Burrage, a Student Fightback media spokesperson, stressed the determination of student activists to defeat these cuts. She said, “We are mounting a campaign against the Liberals and will not demonstrate until we have fully funded education.” This occupation is taking place in the lead up to a nationwide student demonstration on 28 August to defend higher education.

Recently the Liberal’s announced that students who fail half of their first year units will be unable to access HECS, which allows students to pay back their uni fees as a loan. This new change would force struggling students to pay billions upfront Erin Russell said. This would push working class students out of accessing university and add significant stress to students. This is a continuation of the Liberal’s project of undermining the idea of public universities, she concluded.

Perhaps the students could also ask some questions about why the government has the aged Minister for Youth Richard Colbeck in its Executive. His simplistic International Youth Day media release stated that ‘Australian youth face significant challenges in this unprecedented period.’ Indeed, a bit like his governments appalling aged care underfunding of the sector by people who paid tax, fees and levies all their lives. Surely its time to appoint a young minister for youth or at least one under the age of 40! A doddering minister aged over 60 whose noted academic career highlight on his parliamentary website was the certificates he received from the Devonport Technical College of carpentry says it all really!