Vol 11, Issue 10
Several weeks ago I wrote an article outlining the case for public transport concessions and plugging Fares Fair PTV’s first public event. Given that some time has passed, I thought it appropriate I write a follow up to update students on the progress of the campaign.
The Speak out at the State Library on March 14th was, all things considered, a great success. We had about fifty students rock up, which for a cold Tuesday morning early in semester, we think was pretty good. After all, haters gonna hate (I’m looking at you, right wing toilet poster vandals) and slacktivists gonna slack… (I’m looking at you MLS).
Anyway, it was heartening to see those who showed up were a great mix of domestic and international, undergraduate and postgraduate. We also used the event as a chance to launch our new Fares Fair PTV Position Paper, which contains new modelling that suggests the overall cost of this reform is significantly lower than earlier Universities Australia estimates (with the figure being closer to $6 million rather than $70 million!).
On a side note, it was also fascinating to hear from several international students who told me this was the first time they’d gone out to protest government policy. They seemed genuinely shocked they could be so openly dissident without being told to move along or dragged away. Sadly, I’ve also heard on the grapevine that many international students also avoided the Speak Out on the unfounded fear their visas would be cancelled. Hmmm. But I digress…
The Speak Out lasted about an hour and a half and we had some great calls to arms from speakers from GSA, Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, National Union of Students, the Greens and two city of Melbourne councilors. We also heard from two local poets, who delivered entertaining poems about their experiences on public transport.
The fall out of the event has been largely positive, we received some local media, but more importantly, Jacinta Allen, the minister for public transport responded by having Ros Spence, the Parliamentary Secretary for Public Transport agree to meet with representatives of the campaign. Spence then gave us a good hearing, she was interested and sympathetic, and while non-committal, has agreed to take our arguments to the State government. Considering Allen had previously more or less ignored our calls for a meeting and dismissed our arguments entirely, this new response from Spence was extremely positive.
Now we play the waiting game; except not really. While we wait on a response from Spence and Allen, we have launched another phase of the crusade; a postcard / ‘letter writing’ campaign. We’ve had stacks and stacks of Fares Fair PTV postcards printed, addressed to both Allen and the Premier, Daniel Andrews. The idea is you take them away, fill them in by explaining the importance of transport concessions, then we stamp them and send them in. Day in day out, their offices are hounded by students demanding Victoria do what’s right and fall into line with the rest of the country. At the moment there should be a stack of the postcards outside the LSS office, which we’ll swing by and collect once we have a few. So please fill one in!
Finally, we continue to campaign with videos and other materials on our Facebook page laying out why this is such an important issue and why postgrad concessions should be in the budget. Stay tuned for more.
Oh also, GSA elections are on right now and voting closes on 12th May. Don’t forget to vote!
The Fares Fair PTV Position Paper can be accessed online here:
Thomas Whiteside is a fourth-year JD student
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