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Alliance supports Student Protests against VSM

Alliance supports Student Protests against VSM

For Immediate Release – Tuesday November 30, 2010

The Alliance Party has come out in support of Wednesday’s planned student protests against the Voluntary Student Membership Bill.

Ms Murray said that the student protests were designed to draw attention to the loss of services and representation that would occur should the legislation pass.

“VSM is being promoted by ACT and is yet another law designed to disempower people under the guise of ‘freedom’. In fact, the present law allows students to opt out of Associations if they please. It also allows students the choice as to whether an Association remains compulsory or chooses to go voluntary as Auckland University did several years ago,” said Ms Murray.

Ms Murray said there is a perception being put around by the Bill’s supporters that VSM was about the student’s association executives but this ignored the large number of services that these organisations provide.

“Associations often employ full-time or part-time staff to administer these services on a professional basis.”

Ms Murray said that as a result Associations were able to provide a wide range of services such as advocacy and representation, events, clubs and societies, publications, amenities for students and the wider University community.

“In Australia, the introduction of VSM decimated Associations. There is little or no student representation or services at most Australian Universities. Taxpayers or the universities have been forced in some cases to pick up various services such as advocacy which provided students with advice and representation if they got into trouble.”

Ms Murray said that the argument posed by the Bill’s sponsors that services should only be offered when they are required by the individual is extremely short-sighted and ridiculous.

“It is comparable to arguing that people should not have to pay for a public health system as people might not require it as they might never break their leg or suffer from sickness.”

Ms Murray commented that no one wanted the Bill. Over 80% of all the submissions and responses to the Select Committee were against it.

“The Alliance believes that, in an ironic twist, voluntary membership is being enforced by the state after the failure of Act and National to convince the people of its worth. This Bill should be withdrawn immediately. It is undemocratic and unjust,” said Ms Murray.

ENDS

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