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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1117 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

whatever kind. I think the biggest problem that we on this side of the house have in terms of this argument is: Why should that not be extended to the right of everyone to choose to belong to an association or union at a university?

There are some strong arguments both ways. Mr Humphries put some excellent arguments in relation to services. Mr Corbell also put some arguments in relation to services provided at universities. That is recognised. No doubt that will be debated on the hill when they go through the passage of a particular Bill. I note that there have been some conflicting reports from Western Australia as to the effect of their legislation on services, some saying that services have improved and some saying that it is all doom and gloom. I note that the Victorians have legislation whereby they continue to levy for certain services provided at universities but ban the political side of it. So, there are a number of things for the Federal Parliament to consider there. There is merit in a lot of the points raised by both Mr Humphries and Mr Corbell.

However, Mr Berry is right: It gets back to the fundamental question of whether people should be forced to join a union. Mr Berry seems to be worried that, if you do not have what we would say is an undemocratic compulsion for people to join, there would not be the same degree of student activism. I would say that that is nonsense. I went to the ANU. It was a lot more active then. It may be that I am saying that as someone who is getting old and is looking back fondly on his youth, but there was a lot of political activity. I am not saying that there is not now, but there was a lot of very public political activity then. It was at the tail end of the Vietnam War. The moratorium marches were on when I first went to university. We had the South African rugby tour in 1971 and apartheid was a very strong issue on campus. I can recall spending quite a number of nights with some people who are still very active in the community, such as Liz O'Brien, who is a great old activist from way back, at a vigil outside the South African Embassy protesting against apartheid.

I would have done that through choice because I believed in that. I would have done that regardless of whether I was a compulsory member of the union, which you had to be and which you still do, because I believed in it. I would have gone into any demonstration that I believed in and I think any student would do that. I think that it is totally irrelevant whether you have joined a union or not. This is a free, democratic country and I think it is a nonsense for Mr Berry to suggest that activism would cease. I think it is the very nature of universities and, indeed, large sections of our society that people are actively involved in issues in which they very much believe. That is especially true at universities, but why should students be forced to pay a fee for participating in those activities?

Mr Berry laughed when Mr Humphries was reading from a list of some of the moneys spent by, I think, the Queensland University of Technology student guild on anti-Liberal Party activities. I wonder whether he would condone that if they were spending it on anti-ALP activities. There were a few other examples which Mr Humphries did not read out. The National Union of Students had a considerable annual budget in 1987 - $1.6m - and in December of that year they resolved to spend $50,000 against the coalition parties during the 1988 New South Wales election. In April 1992 the national executive allocated $5,000 for analysis to be done on the impact of Fightback - but not the

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