Page 1434 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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MR SPEAKER: Thank you. Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: I apologise to Mrs Dunne. I had thought that Mr Mulcahy was the only person. The point that I was making, of course, was that my understanding was that Mr Mulcahy was the only person from the Liberal Party who did not speak, on the basis of the fact that he flogged tobacco, that he was a purveyor, a salesman, of tobacco.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Resume your seat, Chief Minister. Let us settle down a little bit.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo): Mr Speaker, I seek leave under standing order 46 to make a personal explanation.

MR SPEAKER: You may proceed. I am sure that you will make sure that it is a personal matter, too. You cannot go any further than the personal matter.

MR SESELJA: The Chief Minister implied that I also spoke on the smoking in public places bill and I did not, so I would just like to add that to the record.

Voluntary student unionism

Debate resumed.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (3.20): Mr Speaker, I shall resume where I left off before lunch. Student unions provide very important services to students. In Canberra, campus services include advocacy for students, including assistance to appeal against university decisions; representing students on important bodies, such as the university council, the academic board and advisory committees; providing services that directly benefit students, including orientation week; resources such as the student diaries and survival guides; guides to how to live in the city, where country students may find themselves; student magazines; second-hand bookshops; legal advice and services; welfare services and advocacy, including emergency loans and access to housing; and clubs and societies that provide facilities such as computers and meeting rooms.

The Senate committee found that there is no other way for a satisfactory level of service to be provided for students except through student organisations which, as they run at cost, depend on the fees paid by all students to run the range of services provided. Given the peculiar circumstances of running services on campus, it is highly unlikely that any contracted private provider or business could offer the range or quality of basic amenities that students currently enjoy.

As for the services that are peculiar to the needs of students, in most cases these could not be provided even by the university. Student organisations are what we like to call in simple economics a natural monopoly, the removal of which would result in a marked deterioration in student services and a considerable loss to university life and culture. There is some legitimate concern about the annual fees charged by student unions, which on some campuses are as high as $500, but this has not yet been raised as an issue in the ACT. I understand that the annual fee for the ANU Students Association this year is around $220 a student.

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