2012-05-24 – ONE NEWS – BUDGET PROTEST, STUDENTS CALL FOR ‘NO EDUCATION CUTS’ [RAW]
2012-05-24 – ONE NEWS – BUDGET PROTEST, STUDENTS CALL FOR ‘NO EDUCATION CUTS’
A student protest against Budget cuts paralysed one of the busiest streets in Auckland today.
About 400 “Blockade the Budget” protesters took to the streets chanting “no ifs, no buts, no education cuts” in a protest against changes to student loans and allowances in this year’s ‘zero’ Budget.
According to students on Twitter using the #blockadethebudget hashtag, the protest is over and they were heading to the quad at the University of Auckland for a “debrief”.
Earlier the students marched en masse, wheeling out rubbish skips, jamming traffic and forcing buses to perform U-turns.
Senior Sergeant Mike McIlraith told ONE News: “It’s obviously a careful balance between people expressing their rights and vehicle traffic down the main arterial route.”
In the Budget announcement today it was confirmed that tertiary students and people with student loans will be affected financially with the loan repayment threshold going up from 10% to 12% once income goes over ,084 a year.
Student loans are being kept interest-free but allowances will only be available for the first 200 weeks of study, and there will be a four-year freeze on the parental income threshold for allowances.
The protesters fear the changes will discourage students from low income families from doing long degrees or post-graduate study, therefore restricting occupations in law, medicine or engineering to a privileged few.
Student Ben Rosamond said: “I get a week student allowance at the moment, if I went on to do my masters I wouldn’t get that at all, and I’d have to pay back my student loan quickly which would be like an extra tax on me when I start working.”
Another protester questioned how she will survive with the cuts saying: “it’s hard enough already”.
And Sam Bookman, from Auckland University Student Association, told ONE News it “makes students want to go and get money where they can actually pay it back, and the best place to do that is in Australia.”
A full road closure on Symonds Street between the intersections of Waterloo Quadrant and Alten Road, and Wellesley Street East and Grafton Road because of the protest has caused delays to traffic and bus services in the area around the University of Auckland.
At 6pm tonight police watched from a distance as students danced in the intersection, even with commuter traffic peaking.
Some people took to Twitter to vent their frustration.
“I’m not happy about the Budget either, but blocking commuter traffic at rush hour is selfish and stupid,” Genohalloran tweeted.
But others showed their support for the protesters.
Michaela Terry tweeted: “Feeling a ridiculous sense of pride for all the Auckland students taking to the streets tonight.”
2012-05-24 – CLOSE UP – STUDENTS HAVE BRIGHT IDEAS FOR BUDGET
Added: 7.55PM Thursday May 24, 2012
Source: Close Up
Students at Bill English’s old school would offer interest free student loans and raise the retirement age.