Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1112 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
For example, a student enrolled in a four-year part-time external course at the UNE at best would set foot on campus once a year during that period, but has to pay student union fees. That seems to me to be inequitable. You have another case of a student enrolled in one subject at the UNE who pays $40 a year in student fees and gets access as a result of that to the sports union for the four days that he is in Armidale for external schools. Some would argue that $40 for a service he might not even use and can use only over four days anyway is rather steep.
The fundamental reason that I think we need to accept voluntary student unionism as a positive thing to see on our campuses is that it puts the onus on student organisations to demonstrate that they are relevant and worth while to students. That is the fundamental concern. There are student organisations which provide services - and I have mentioned the union and the sports union in the case of the ANU - and there are student organisations which provide what could be described as advocacy services. In the ANU's case, that is illustrated by the students association and the research students association.
The fact is that when we come to talk about organisations of that kind the records show innumerable examples of a quite gross wastage of money, a quite scandalous misuse of student funds, which students, in general, have little say in doing anything about because of the compulsory nature of membership and the fact that most students are more concerned about getting their degrees and focusing on their purpose in being at university than they are in going along and trying to stack out meetings of student associations or SRCs. To give you some examples of those sorts of misuses of student moneys, in 1986 a study of the abuses that took place under the Monash University union board included revelations that the union gave $99,960 - almost $100,000 - to an organisation called the Community Research Action Centre to fund special projects, such as a Palestinian awareness campaign, an animal rights campaign, an organic methods of gardening booklet, a woodchipping protest campaign in East Gippsland National Park and a sexuality festival.
The ANU union in 1993 instituted a boycott against selling NestlÃ© products because of the company's alleged unethical marketing practices in Third World countries. The campaign cost students over $6,500 a year in lost revenue because those products were not available, and so far has cost students $45,000.
Mr Hird: How much?
MR HUMPHRIES: I said $45,000, Mr Speaker. Another good example of very active political involvement by those student organisations comes in the form of the University of Technology in Queensland, where the student guild during the 1996 Federal election campaign spent over $44,500 mailing out Labor Party propaganda. They used guild vehicles to deliver ALP material all over Queensland. They spent $7,000 of the students' money on anti-Liberal T-shirts. They paid professional protesters to turn up at John Howard rallies. They paid professional protesters to turn up at rallies: "We will give you so much money if you will go along and say that you are opposed to whatever John Howard is in favour of". The guild provided food and drink to ALP supporters at student expense, placed full-page anti-Liberal advertisements in the guild newspaper and distributed anti-Liberal comments throughout the O week student diaries provided to all