Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott cancelled university visit to not 'give students an excuse to riot'

Thousands of protesters took part in a national day of action against the government's budget cuts on Wednesday

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The Independent Online

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott cancelled a visit to Deakin Unviersity’s Geelong campus on Wednesday, because he did not want to “[give] the students an excuse for a riot.”

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) warned Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne against attending the opening of a carbon fibre research facility in the south west of the country, Australia’s national broadcaster reported.

The politicians’ visit would have coincided with a national day of action against the Government's billion dollar federal cuts, planned by the Australian National Union of Students (NUS) and involving community groups.

During the protest, activists clashed with police on the steps of the Parliament building in Victoria, while almost 2,000 people marched from Melbourne’s State Library to the Parliament.  

“Giving the students an excuse for a riot is not actually going to serve that purpose, it was going to take probably up to 50 police off the streets who may have been more useful elsewhere, it was going to inconvenience a lot of people,” Mr Abbott told ABC News.

National Union of Students president Deanna Taylor told ABC News that the cancellation of the Prime Minister's visit was a missed opportunity for protesters to have their voices heard.

''I think the Prime Minister and his ministers are being a bit cowardly and trying to portray students as though they’re violent rabble-rousers who are out to cause trouble, which isn’t the case at all,'' she said.

''They’re trying to make us sound like spoiled little brats who don't know how good we've got it. They have a very clear agenda.''

The cancellation comes the same week that Mr Abbott was branded a "creep" for winking to a grandmother who said she had to work on a phone sex line to pay her bills.