Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1108 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
Mr Speaker, the VSU issue is about ensuring that students get a decent level of service. Again, I draw the Assembly's attention to the Western Australian example. At one university in Western Australia the student associations and student unions employed 48 people to provide a range of services and facilities to students. Following the introduction of the VSU legislation, they could no longer afford to employ those people and they now employ two - two people. Who are the people who suffer as a result of that? It is not always the student unions and student associations. It is the students they support; it is the students they provide services to.
Using the rates analogy which has been used by Deane Terrell, the vice-chancellor of the ANU, we have to realise that with the implementation of VSU we are going to see a reduction in the level of services provided at campuses.
As to the proponents of this legislation, it looks like Mr Humphries is going to stand up and take the same point of view as his Federal counterpart, David Kemp.
The ANU has taken the view that it is not a matter of compulsion. Indeed, they have a requirement that every student pay this fee. It is a fee that they are required to pay so that they have access to services and facilities on campus. But they have taken the view that no-one is required to be a member of a student association or a student union if they choose not to be. The ANU has drawn a very clear distinction between those two things. The University of Canberra, our other major institution - indeed, an institution under our jurisdiction, Mr Speaker - has taken a similar view. There is certainly no requirement for any student to be a member of an association or to participate in an association if they choose not to, but the university certainly take the view that they are required to pay the fee.
It would seem that the real problem that conservatives have with this legislation is that they fear that the money for student associations from a compulsory charge will be used to support all sorts of undesirable political activities - nasty neo-Trotsky sorts of activities - which would undermine the agenda of conservative parties wherever they may be. That has certainly been the argument that has been presented by Dr Kemp. I assume that we will hear it from Mr Humphries later this evening. I tried to look at where these radical fringe elements were getting all this money compulsorily acquired from students. I looked for the neo-Trotsky organisation in the ANU's list of contributors. Guess who gets the most money at the ANU from student activities in terms of clubs and societies? It is the film club, at the ANU.
Mr Stefaniak: That could be neo-Trotsky.
MR CORBELL: Mr Stefaniak says, "That must be the neo-Trotsky society". I must say, Mr Speaker, that there is an excellent film club at the ANU, and it highlights the usefulness of having this type of charge. It highlights why the charge should be administered in a universal way.
It is important to remember that in Canberra it is not just students themselves who use these facilities on campus, although they are the main beneficiaries of them in most regards. It is also the staff who use the facilities on campus and it is also the wider community. I am sure that all of us have seen the range of services that are advertised for