Last night’s Q&A marked the third week in a row that the government’s new HECS repayment structure was criticised, but it was the first time the measures were actively protested by sincerely livid members of the audience.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham was faced with audience member Holly James, who asked the man named Birmo – who had campaigned against fee hikes as a student politician – why he was now advocating a change to the loan repayment threshold.
As Birmingham unspooled his response, focusing on the increased number of students in 2017, he was met with the first vocal interjection from the audience. Another woman yelled “you’re making students pay”; a man called out “how can you justify the cuts to the HECS repayment threshold to $42,000?”
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) May 15, 2017
At least one protester was removed by security.
The MP attempted to answer, but took a detour to say “students have been protesting for generations.” Co-panellist and Greens MP Larissa Water shot back “it’s a shame they’re not being listened to.”
The protests weren’t confined to the taping, though. Student activists took to the streets outside the Gold Coast Arts Centre to voice their sincere fucking disapproval to the budgetary measures, which will also institute fee hikes across the board.
Stay tuned for round four next week, hey?
Source and photo: Q&A / Twitter.