Page 1170 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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Ms MacDonald: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In spite of your constant reminders to the other side, they continue to flout standing order 39. Would you once again draw their attention to standing order 39?

MR SPEAKER: There are too many conversations going on.

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. Yesterday the federal government introduced a new bill into the House of Representatives titled the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005.

The bill is designed to ban student organisations from university campuses across the country and to penalise any university that attempts to allow any student union or student association to operate with its support. This is a reprehensible attack on the conditions of students at university campuses, here and nationally. It is an ideological attack on the principle that students should have control over their own affairs through democratically elected bodies.

As usual, the federal government, rather than trying to build a case against an organisation on its merits, has targeted its legislation directly at the funding of student unions, aiming to cut off their access to funding through general services fees and the like. The government has thrown out a lot of scurrilous points about the general services fee, but I would like to make a few points about the situation in Canberra.

The general services fee for student services at ANU is currently $220 per student each year. Only a small proportion, around 20 per cent, of this fee goes to student political representation at the ANU. Around 37 per cent of the fee goes to student sporting facilities and food and recreation services. Whether the students or a university administration maintains these services, these services will have to be provided.

Mrs Dunne: I raise a point of order. I know that the minister has responsibility for the University of Canberra Act. It might be appropriate for the minister to reflect on the impact of voluntary student unionism at the University of Canberra, but is it appropriate for her to reflect the ANU, which is covered by federal legislation?

MS GALLAGHER: Sit down. She is just wasting my time, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: This is a matter around education. She is the minister for education.

Mrs Dunne: The minister does not have responsibility, except in the most obscure way, for the administration of the University of Canberra.

MR SPEAKER: She is the minister.

Mrs Dunne: Generally speaking, this is federal policy.

Mr Corbell: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: Ms Gallagher is also minister for children and young people. Clearly, she has responsibility for commenting on issues as they relate to the impact of federal policy on young people in the ACT.

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