STUDENT CHOICE CRUSHED IN ACT-NATIONAL DOUBLE ACT
Late Wednesday night, Act and National put aside the proper progress of legislation to fast-track the passing of anti-student legislation before the election. The private member’s bill drafted by Act MP, Heather Roy, can only pass with National’s support.
In an unusual move, National put other legislation aside so that they could support the misnamed Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill.
The real agenda of this bill is to destroy students’ associations. If passed, the legislation will reduce student choice and student participation in determining their own affairs. I’ve written about this in the ODT.
Under the bill students no longer get to choose whether their representative association is voluntary or compulsory.
The bill’s effect, far from promoting freedom, is to remove student choice, to reduce the range and quality of student services and to silence the voice of students’ associations on behalf of their members.
Act’s bill will erode the funding base of students’ associations. Without a small contribution from a large number of students, the rich offerings of university life are no longer affordable.
Choice dies, and along with it, vital aspects of the Otago scarfie experience and services that benefit the health and welfare of students.
When last put to the vote, University of Otago students chose to keep the status quo. They recognised the benefit of all students making a small contribution towards facilities for the whole student body.
Unlike Act and National, I believe how students organise their own affairs should be their own choice. I trust students to run their own organisations and make their own decisions.
Now an ideological push from a ‘we know best’ Act-National coalition is forcing its skewed world-view on the student community.
In Wednesday’s debate, former OUSA President and Labour MP for Wellington Central, Grant Robertson, revealed that progress was being made on an enduring solution. Those discussions were thwarted after Heather Roy was dumped from Cabinet and Act whipped National into ideological line.
Labour’s proposal would have provided students with an opportunity to make an informed choice about student association membership. Students would have received information about students’ associations, what they provide and what they cost.
Surely it is better to preserve choice and opportunity for students, than to rob them in the name of a blinkered and draconian ideological monomania.
Students are up in arms. They’re planning a protest today when John Key visits the University. Information about the protest is on facebook.