A group of student protesters interrupted a live broadcast of the ABC program Q&A last night, forcing producers to cut to an old episode as they were ejected from the building.
The protest was organised by the Education Action Group from the University of Sydney, rather than the Socialist Alternative, according to Fairfax.
They were targeting federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s proposed changes to higher education, which include deregulation of university funding.
Around 20 minutes into the broadcast they unfurled a banner and began loudly chanting, drowning out former parliamentary speaker Anna Bourke as she attempted to answer a question from the audience.
“No cuts. No fees. No corporate universities,” they yelled, over the top of host Tony Jones. They were so loud he could not hear instructions from his executive producer through his earpiece.
Everyone on the panel handled it well, with Pyne asking in jest if he’d be allowed back, and Bourke saying it reminded her of her time in the House.
Once the live broadcast resumed — returning from an old episode in which Katie Noonan sang a cover version of Gotye’s Heart’s A Mess — Jones apologised and rebuked the protestors.
“Apologies to the Minister, apologies to everyone on the panel, apologies to the wider audience watching,” Jones said.
“That is not what we want to happen on this program. That is not what democracy is all about and those students should understand that.”
The protests sparked an instant reaction on social media, and from the panel, with Bourke explaining that she had benefited from free university education.
They were widely criticised though, even by other student groups.
“Tonight’s protests are an embarrassment to students, and do not in any sense represent the regular student body,” Australian Liberal Students’ Federation spokesperson Matthew Lesh told Fairfax.
Here’s the video:
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