The Age: Three of a kind with a Liberal attitude towards a ‘fair’ budget
Matthew Lesh May 20, 2014 The Age/Fairfax media
Matthew Lesh, Megan Saker and Nicki Jarrel appear to be nothing but precisely what they are: every-day students at Melbourne University.
But they are something of a rarity within the university’s walls – staunch defenders of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s first budget.
Mr Lesh, 20, and Ms Saker, 19, are studying arts and Ms Jarrel, 21, studies planning and design.
All three are Liberal Party members and signed up for the Australian Liberal Students Federation on their first day of university.
While their counterparts in the Socialist Alternative Club, fresh from their battle with Sophie Mirabella on Monday morning, sell ”F— Tony Abbott” shirts just a stone’s throw away, the trio welcomed ”fair” budget measures.
”At the end of the day I think they’re necessary,” said Ms Jarrel, whose mother owns a real estate agency. ”A key Coalition promise leading up to the election was they would inject a sense of fiscal responsibility and restore the budget balance.”
They welcomed the move to deregulate the university sector, allowing universities to set their own fees. Ms Jarrel said it would lead to a fairer approach for education access.
”I think universities will have to start competing with each other to attract students into their courses and into these degrees,” she said. ”If certain universities start increasing the price of their degrees, students will find other avenues and other areas to go into and that’s a fairer system.”
On Monday, former federal Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was escorted by police from a lecture theatre at Melbourne University after it was overrun by protesters.
Some of the protesters from Socialist Alternative, who were demonstrating against the federal reforms, confronted Ms Mirabella at the front of the lecture theatre. The lecture resumed later.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop was mobbed by students when she visited the University of Sydney. Security staff had to usher her from the scene.
The president of Socialist Alternative Club at Melbourne University, Jade Eckhaus, said sitting Liberal MPs should expect a similar response.
”I think it’s going to happen at every university campus in Australia,” she said. ”I think it’s really disgraceful that these people can come onto campus right after the Liberal Party proposed a budget, which is going to see students’ lives totally destroyed.”
Mr Lesh said the student Liberals were not planning a loud come-back to their counterparts’ attack. He picked up his mobile phone instead. ”I’m going to try and get on 3AW,” he said.
This article was originally published on the front page of The Age, May 20 2014.
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