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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1120 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I join Mr Corbell in condemning the actions of the Federal Government and supporting the associations of our local institutions. What makes me sick is the rhetoric of the Federal Government in claiming that young people and education are so important while, at the same time, they are ripping apart the support services they so clearly need.

MR RUGENDYKE (5.55): Mr Speaker, I do not hold an ideological view on the issues of this motion, but it is interesting to note that I have been lobbied by neither side of the ideological fence. However, I have listened to the debate, I have taken on board both ideologies and the issues raised by both sides, and it has given me some guidance on the way in which to consider this motion.

MR CORBELL (5.56), in reply: Mr Rugendyke is leaving us all guessing. Mr Speaker, I thank those members who have indicated their support this evening and I will be brief, conscious of the time. Mr Speaker, I start by bringing to members' attention the fundamental problem with how the Federal Government has approached this subject. The Federal coalition's policy document for the 1996 Federal election, under the heading "Student Unionism", stated:

The Coalition recognises State jurisdiction in this area.

Even in their own policy document, they were indicating that they believed that it was a matter for individual State parliaments, in discussion with their universities, to decide what was the most appropriate course of action in relation to student unionism. Yet after the election we have the Federal Government coming out and saying, "We are going to require as part of our funding arrangement with you that you not allow this compulsory charge to be collected from students". That, perhaps, says a little bit about how the Federal Government has gone about this issue. Mr Speaker, I want to quote the president of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, Professor John Niland - not, I would suggest, an ideologue by any stretch of the imagination. He has said:

The important consideration, surely, is not whether they -

students -

engage in political activities but whether student organisations are democratic and accountable, and that there is scope for genuine conscientious objection to contributing to particular political activities.

Student associations are highly effective organisations for running services for the benefit of students. If the Government's legislation undermines the funding base of those organisations, it will mean that many of the services which they provide will no longer be provided on campuses and this will have a very negative effect on the quality of student life.

We have already heard Ms Tucker outline the cost it will mean for the University of Canberra, only recently transferred to our jurisdiction. The cost will be $3m to provide the levels of service that are currently provided through the collection of a universal compulsory charge.

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