ABC’s Q&A was disrupted last night after the Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne faced a group of rowdy “anti university fees” protestors.
The program began with Pyne being asked several questions by audience members about the Government’s proposals to deregulate university funding and suggestions that a number of youth training services would be cut.
Program host Tony Jones tried to give Pyne a “breather” from intense questioning and asked former parliament speaker Anna Bourke to take the question.
As she began her answer, a group of at least a dozen protestors unfurled a banner from the balcony behind the panellists while chanting slogans.
“No cuts. No fees. No corporate universities,” they sang.
Jones said, “Ok guys the rowdy group, you’re doing yourself no favours”.
The chanting continued as security guards tried to remove them from the studio.
“Chris Pyne, get out! We know what you’re all about. Cuts. Job losses. Money for the bosses,” the group chanted loudly.
Pyne tried to laugh it off and made a joke.
“Does this mean you won’t have me again?” he said.
Bourke also tried to lighten the mood.
“Reminds me of Question Time. I feel like I’m back in the House,” she said.
Education commentator Maralyn Parker tweeted “the riot on #qanda is indicative of how deeply Australians feel about the destruction of education the Abbott Govt is inflciting on us”.
Protester Brigitte Garozzo tweeted that the outburst was driven by anger at Pyne’s proposed deregulation plans.
“Stop deregulating our universities are we wouldn’t have to protest like this. YOU DONT LISTEN,” she wrote.
She also claimed that the protest was organised by the Education Action Group from the University of Sydney, not the Socialist Alternative.