Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1106 ..
MR CORBELL (5.02): Mr Speaker, I move:
That this Assembly:
(1) condemns the Federal Liberal Government's attempts to outlaw compulsory student unionism and notes the detrimental effect that such a move would have on the ability of student unions to provide a wide range of essential services;
(2) recognises the important roles performed by the student unions at the Australian National University, University of Canberra, Australian Catholic University and Canberra Institute of Technology by providing a wide range of services to their respective members.
Mr Speaker, I have moved the motion in my name on the notice paper in relation to compulsory student unionism because of the issues surrounding the Federal Government's proposal for the removal of a compulsory payment by students for the provision of services on campuses and the impact that that would have on university students in the ACT. I think it is entirely appropriate that this Assembly take the step of indicating to the Federal Parliament and the Federal Government its opposition to any move that would downgrade the level of service and amenities provided to students on university campuses in the ACT.
Mr Speaker, I was prompted to take this step after receiving a letter from one of my Labor colleagues in Tasmania - indeed, the Minister for Education in Tasmania - who had moved a similar motion in the Tasmanian House of Assembly. In the Tasmanian Parliament there was bipartisan agreement that the parliament should communicate to the Federal Government its opposition to the implementation of this draconian VSU legislation through the Federal Parliament. I hope that the same can be said of us tonight and that all members will join the Labor Party in opposing the implementation of this legislation. Mr Speaker, it is important to remember that this legislation, if it is implemented, will affect every campus across the ACT. It will also affect every university across Australia.
Mr Speaker, there has been a large number of voices in opposition to the introduction of the voluntary student unionism legislation. They number amongst them the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee and the vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, Sir Gerard Brennan, a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. They have all come to the same conclusion, which members here tonight should come to, and that is that if that legislation is implemented it will lead to a downgrading of the level of service and amenity provided to university students on university campuses. Mr Speaker, I know that my colleague opposite Mr Humphries has been a strong advocate of choice in all manner of things and is strongly against anything that requires compulsion. However, I would hope that at least on this issue he will reconsider his