Page 1412 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Flinders University $363. The ANU is actually not too bad, nor is the University of Canberra, at $220 and $270.

What this boils down to is that, as a result of gathering these fees in 2005, there are 37 student union bodies across the country that are sloshing around with a massive $161 million to be donated to organisations like the 21st century equivalent of the Shining Path revolutionaries. That is why students should have a choice. If they want to donate to revolutionaries somewhere in the world, they can do it out of their own pockets. But for the students who do not want to, who would rather donate to St Vincent De Paul or St John’s Ambulance, that is not possible. They do not have that choice.

Someone said to me today, “The students association at the ANU does not represent me because I am a member of the Liberal students association.” The students association at the ANU makes decisions on the grounds of political affiliation and the point that was made was, “Why should I support them? They will not support me.” This is not a blind, unbiased organisation. They will pick their favourites, and they would rather pick the Shining Path revolutionaries than the Liberal students or the democratic club or a whole lot of other organisations.

In the time remaining I would like to turn my focus to the Human Right’s Act. As I have mentioned before, section 15(2) states: “Everyone has a right to freedom of association.” This is the ACT ALP’s own legislation. Let us hear it again: “Everyone has a right to freedom of association.” Everyone, that is, except students. I am wondering: when the ALP caucus sits down and decides what moronic motions they will put on the notice paper for private members’ business, do they do a human rights assessment like they do with their legislation? Presumably they do not, because this motion would have failed the test on this occasion.

It is important to recall that the ACT bill of rights is largely informed by the seminal United Nations documents on human rights, specifically the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 Convention on Civil and Political Rights. What do these documents say about freedom of association? Article 20 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to free association” and “no one may be compelled to belong to an association”.

The ALP has conveniently forgotten to mention these clauses, so I will remind them: “No one may be compelled to belong to an association.” Did you get it, Mr Gentleman? No one may be compelled to belong to an association. This is essential in understanding what freedom of association entails. Simple logic leads any reasonable person to the unimpeachable conclusion that, if freedom of association implies a freedom of association, it also implies a freedom not to associate.

How can any association that occurs as a result of coercion and is an association not made voluntarily be said to be free? The simple answer is that it cannot. Where associations such as student unions are not entered into voluntarily, this sacrosanct principle of human and civil rights is thrown out the window. The ALP’s hypocrisy on human rights is brought to the fore on this issue: “How dare we let a person’s civil liberties get in the way of the agenda of our union mates?”

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .