So there we go then. An Abbott government. The most reactionary Prime Minister in our nation’s history, replacing six years of social democratic stasis.
Without a doubt, the SRC and NUS need to prioritise the fight against the Liberals’ policies for students next year. Some of the things we can expect include the re-introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism (destroying the SRC), the deregulation of university fees and the stripping away of funding from higher education. Obviously, there are limits to what a student union at one university can do to fight the mighty apparatus of the state.
But there are some things…
First of all, we can demonstrate. During the Howard era student protests could involve very large crowds, shouting very loudly, and in a very real way making opposition to anti-student policies known to people. Just think for a second about the Iraq War protests in 2003. They were organised primarily out of the basement of your very own SRC – we are one of the few civil institutions that have the capacity to organise demonstrations.
We can lobby. We can make media releases. We can print propaganda and have it distributed across the city. But given that the government exists outside metropolitan Sydney, clearly geography places a block in place of what we can do.
Which is why the National Union of Students is so important.
I anticipate next year the calling of multiple National Days of Action and student strikes.
We should take a lesson from the NTEU as well, and take the political decision to create an NUS Fighting Fund of students’ money which we can use to hold political parties to account. If the Minerals Council of Australia can do it, why can’t we?
Well, we used to. In 2004 the NUS spent $255 307 on a campaign against the Liberal Party in marginal electorates.
I happen to think that this would be a good thing.