Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1107 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
view. I do that, Mr Speaker, because if you look at the services that are provided on campuses in the ACT and around Australia you will see that those services simply could not exist without the universal charging of a fee of students.
The Australasian Campus Union Managers Association did a survey recently on the types of services that would be detrimentally affected if the voluntary student unionism legislation were implemented. I would just like to read from that list. The list of services that ACUMA found would be affected by the VSU legislation included accommodation, activities and recreation programs, advocacy, advisory governing boards, student appeals, cafeteria bars, child care, cinemas, clubs and societies, student diaries, employment and careers, graduation support, help desks, student accident insurance, legal advice, student media, including student newspapers - one of Mr Humphries' favourites - student development courses, social events, faculty development, meeting rooms, lounges, libraries, study rooms, orientation weeks, information publications, radio short courses, postgraduate support, tax services, dental care, student representative councils, student associations and welfare. In the sport and recreation area the list included camps, clubs, intra- and interuniversity competitions, equipment hire, fitness centres, insurance, recreation programs and sports fields and facilities.
That is a very wide and very encompassing list and I have no doubt, both from personal experience and from the information I have been able to get together in the lead-up to this debate, that all of those services are provided in one way or another on all of the ACT's university campuses. The fundamental question here is not about compulsion; it is about whether people have a responsibility to contribute to the provision of the services that all can then benefit from. Indeed, the vice-chancellor of the Australian National University has compared it to the issue of paying rates to a shire council. Everyone in a shire pays rates. They pay rates to get a general level of service for the community in which they live and participate. Indeed, if you removed the requirement for everyone in a shire to pay rates, very few people would pay them. But then, Mr Speaker, what would you encounter? You would encounter a situation where, when you needed to travel down a road, it would not be there. When you needed to have rubbish collected, it would not happen. When you needed the water connected, there would be no-one around to do it. When you needed to borrow a book from the public library, there would not be one. That is the fundamental question that we face when we think about the impact of VSU in the ACT. The same sorts of problems would be encountered.
In Western Australia, where the Western Australian Parliament has implemented VSU legislation, it has been found that less than 2 per cent of the students will contribute the fee.
Mr Humphries: What does that say about student unions?
MR CORBELL: But it is not as though the service is not being provided, because all that it has meant is that the universities have had to pick up that cost wherever possible. It has also meant a severe degradation of services. Indeed, it has meant a loss of jobs. I would like to think that the Government opposite would never want to support anything that would mean a loss of jobs.