Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Cancels University Visit to ‘Avoid’ Student Protest

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 21, 2014 10:13 AM EST

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott cancelled his visit to Victoria's Deakin University after there were reports that students geared up for a nationwide protest against the proposed changes in higher education. Security concerns were cited as the reasons for cancelling the visit.

REUTERS/Stringer
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott gestures as he gives a speech on a business event at the Shanghai International Expo Centre in Shanghai, April 11, 2014.

Mr Abbott, along with Education Minister Christopher Pyne, was scheduled to attend the inauguration of a carbon fibre research facility at the Geelong University on Wednesday, May 21. It was the Federal Police that apparently advised against the PM's visit. A national day of protest action has been called by the National Union of Students over the proposed rising student fees and budget cuts to higher education. The students are expected to light bonfires of budget papers in metal bins in Sydney and Melbourne.

Pyne said that the AFP were worried about the safety of the Prime Minister that could have been compromised if they attended the Geelong event. "The advice from the Australian Federal Police was that they were concerned about our safety, but also that they were concerned about the safety of the innocent bystanders who might be impacted upon by the Socialist Alternative," Pyne said.

Pyne told ABC that Abbott decided to withdraw himself from the visit "so that students can get on with their studies unmolested by the Socialist Alternative." Socialist Alternative happens to follow Marxist political ideologies. The far left-wing group is a major influence at Australian universities. "Red Flag," the radical left-wing paper, is also published by the group.

Deanna Taylor, the president of the National Union of Students, said that protesters would miss the opportunity to have their voice heard as the Prime Minister had cancelled the visit. "If [Coalition frontbenchers] are there to sell a budget that will savage higher education, we're not going to cop it on the chin easily," Taylor said.

Police escorted former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella at Melbourne University on Monday, May 19 after her lecture had been disrupted by protesters.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Stringer / )
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott gestures as he gives a speech on a business event at the Shanghai International Expo Centre in Shanghai, April 11, 2014.
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