Union members and MPs join university Palestine protest

Bray Boland |

Protesters at a pro-Palestine encampment at the ANU have packed up and moved.
Protesters at a pro-Palestine encampment at the ANU have packed up and moved.

Protesters at a pro-Palestine encampment at the Australian National University have packed up and moved after being threatened with police action.

The students were given until midday on Tuesday to leave their camp site, an emergency evacuation zone.

After initially voting to remain in place, the group shifted sites in the dark of the night.

Al Smith, representing the student protesters, said the decision to move on from the original site was a “good-faith measure” as they wanted to engage constructively with the university. 

“We see it as a way to keep the the camp around and on a longer-term basis until our demands are met,” she said.

An ANU spokesman said the university would continue to discuss options for students, who had the right to protest.

At least 150 people turned out to support the pro-Palestine protesters, including union officials and local MPs.

Students barricade the Gaza Solidarity encampment.
Students barricaded the Gaza Solidarity encampment on the campus of the ANU on Monday. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

The rally was originally designed to defend the encampment site.

Instead, ACT politicians and construction union members joined a march to the chancellor’s office.

“The community is watching what the ANU is doing here,” CFMEU national secretary Zach Smith told AAP. 

In solidarity with the pro-Palestine protests, the CFMEU stopped construction work at the university for 24 hours.

Mr Smith said his members had raised concerns about the prospect of the university trampling on the right to peaceful protest and assembly.

Chants rang out across the university as the crowd moved through the campus.

“Disclose, divest. We will not stop we will not rest.”

After making it to the building, the students declared their fight was not over.

The developments at ANU follow news of other camps at the University of Melbourne and Curtin University in Western Australia packing up and going home.

The ANU pro-Palestine encampment is demanding the university cut ties with weapons manufacturing companies, disclose and divest from all entities complicit in the “genocide in Gaza” and cut academic ties with Israel.

The encampment was located in a main evacuation route for the campus.
The encampment was located in a main evacuation route for the campus. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

The university maintains it has never told the students to stop protesting but they must move to another area to avoid safety risks to all students on the campus.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Grady Venville thanked the protesters for working with authorities, saying “they have prioritised the safety and wellbeing of the broader ANU community and helped address an immediate risk on campus”.

The university had provided options for protesters to continue their activities in ways that were “respectful and safe for the entire University community and campus”, the professor said in an email to all staff and students.

“Our students, staff and community have the right to protest on this issue so long as they do so in ways that are safe, are appropriate for our campus and which adhere to Australian law and our codes of conduct,” she said.

Students at the encampment say the university had refused to meet with them to discuss a compromise before they were surprised with an eviction notice early on Monday morning.

Professor Venville said ANU had invited protesters to “genuine and open dialogue about their demands”.

On October 7, designated terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostages, according to Tel Aviv.

Israel retaliated, launching a bombing campaign and counter-offensive in Gaza that, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, injured more than 80,000 and displaced more than 1.7 million.