Today saw another anti-VSU (that’s voluntary student unionism for any rock-dwellers) protest, this time at Parliament House.
There were maybe 50 students there from both ANU and UC as well as a few Sydney unis (but I’m not yet good at judging numbers so it may have been more), a handful of media and quite a few people in suits, some of whom I recognised as politicians.
I found out about this protest yesterday and was told “the action will involve handing out (and eating) little cakes with the STOP VSU slogan on them,” but it turned out the main stunt was actually the launching of the below banner. It was actually pretty impressive looking and very colourful.
After the banner finally made its way into the air (tethered by two poor volunteers), the speeches began and I actually stayed and listened this time. Maybe because they’d given me cake (I overheard Bob McMullan telling someone that this was his kind of protest — “Eat cake for the revolution,” he said). Representatives of various student groups talked, but the media really got interested when Opposition education spokesperson Jenny Macklin started talking. I did have several pictures of her talking, but liked this one much better.
Those little red things on the cakes are “Stop VSU” sugar stickers. Interestingly, although the students had made the cakes and banners, those stickers that Ms Macklin and others are wearing were provided by her office.
Next Greens senator Kerry Nettle spoke. She didn’t make that much of an impression on me, but I’m sure her message was worthy.
Then was Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja. She showed off some postcards apparently recently launched by the Democrats (that’s what she’s holding in the photo). The idea is that students pick these up, write anti-VSU messages on them and post them (presumably postage paid) back to the Democrats who promise to table all the postcard-submissions during the legislation’s debate.
Ms Stott Despoja was the last official speaker, however most of the politicians were politely doing the rounds afterwards, including Labor ACT senator Kate Lundy, who chatted for a while with some ANU students.
And a final note to any potential protestors out there: Thursday is a good day for protests since I have the day off. So if you’re planning a protest on a Thursday and let me know, I might just come along for some more picture-taking practice.