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Students forced to pay $430000 for Maharey's Gulag

Legislation pushed by Steve Maharey has created a political Gulag which will cost Waikato University students $430,000 next year, Charles Ashton, president of Prebble's Rebels Waikato said today.

"As a result of the votes of only 1000 people, all 12,500 students at Waikato University will be forced into a political group which has policies that many of them find highly objectionable," Mr Ashton said. "This is a blatant violation of the right to freedom of association," Mr Ashton said. He said the government had cynically designed the education bill passed in August to take money from students and direct it towards the political interests of the Labour and Alliance parties.

Ashton said the reference to a political Gulag was very apt. "This week Maharey wrote, "this government wants to encourage students to organise collectively". That's the sort of language you'd expect to hear from Stalin during the 1930s. Maharey obviously likes the idea of forcing all New Zealanders into political collectives that support the Labour party," Mr Ashton said.

"I find it abhorrent that a government minister should refer to voluntary membership as an "error". Thousands of organisations in New Zealand, including the Labour party, have voluntary membership. Does Maharey find this situation an error? He has not explained why he thinks people at tertiary institutions should not have the right to freedom of association," Mr Ashton said.

Services and representation were put forward as justification for compulsory membership but these argument are flawed Mr Ashton said. "You can't force people to join a group and then claim they are represented. And no one has actually detailed the so-called services that will be paid for with the $430,000. Students will see no benefit at all from this result. Instead, all sorts of people will come out of the woodwork to get their hands on the money and obscene amounts will be wasted as student politicians fly around the country to protest against things like free trade," Mr Ashton said.

Ashton predicted that the $35 WSU fee for 2001 would soon rise. "There is no limit at all on what can be charged and the socialists running WSU will dream up endless ways of spending other people's money. In a few years the WSU levy will be close to $100 and WSU will be wasting a million dollars a year while doing absolutely nothing," Ashton said.

Ashton said it was outrageous that the government, a council and a bunch of student politicians who all complain about student poverty have got together and done a sneaky little deal to rip students off.

Ashton also accused the Waikato University council of hypocrisy over the voluntary membership issue. "Council is supposed to defend academic freedom but it has conspired to violate the freedoms of students. The Council accept that university staff should have voluntary membership but are willing to see students forced to join political groups," he said.

ENDS

For more information, contact:
Charles Ashton (+64) (021) 293 0605
waikato@rebels.org.nz
http://www.rebels.org.nz

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