Sydney: Hundred of Australian secondary students chanting "Hanson. Howard. Racist cowards" gathered outside Mr Howard's Sydney office Thursday afternoon to protest against the rise of racism and what they saw as the failure of the Prime Minister to deal with it.
Inspired by the June 25 walkout by Melbourne students, high school students in Sydney walked out of school on July 2 in disgust at the racism of Pauline Hanson. After a rally outside the Town Hall they descended on the lobby of the PM's Sydney office. Police gave the students two minutes to leave before a scuffle ensued. Five students were arrested and later released without being charged.
The students came from Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, Mosman High, Pymble Ladies College, Bradfield College, Turramurra High, Saint Scholastica, Burwood Girls, Santa Sabina and Glebe High. For 16-year-old Will Garnsey from Bradfield College, the time had come to take a stand. "Racism isn't right. The Prime Minister doesn't seem to have a clue how to curb the racism being spouted by Pauline Hanson," he said.
Some of the students sported large bruises and complained about the "aggressive behaviour" of police, but said they were well treated after being arrested. Ben Riley, 14, from Leichhardt High, was in tears as he was taken away by police. His mother said later that she was distressed about the violence but that "anything against Pauline Hanson was good".
The rally had been organised by the left-wing organisation Resistance. Resistance member Danny Fairfax said: “We're rallying in defence of migrants and Aboriginal people, and young people too. Hanson has announced that she supports compulsory national service for young people and tough `law and order' policies for youth. Instead of helping solve social problems, these policies target the victims.”
“We see racism around us every day at school. Young people need to stand up against Hanson. We may not be able to vote, but there are other ways of saying that we don't agree with Hanson and the pathetic response to One Nation,” Emma To added. Many young people are determined to be the exact opposite and believe they cannot remain “apolitical” in the face of increasing racism.
A Blackburn High Year 12 student said, "Young people should stand up and rally against Pauline Hanson and what she stands for," she said. "Our parents are aware of what we're doing and they support our stand."
An organiser Jacquie Moon further added,“One Nation are not only racist against Aborigines and migrants, it is also against young people. It wants to bring back the strap in schools and introduce police-enforced curfews for young people.”
A Rally organiser Matt Wilson, a19 year old first-year Melbourne University student, said he had a network of students in 10 schools in Melbourne, and links to Bendigo and Ballarat. "Kids read about Pauline Hanson and her racist policies in every newspaper every day," he said. ""They are also noticing an increase in bullying and racism in their own schools as a result of a shift in attitudes."