Illusive Mind

The Unquestionable should be questioned

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Union Bashing


Compulsory union fees scrapped

Students would still be able to pay university union fees if they wanted to despite new laws abolishing their compulsory collection, Education Minister Brendan Nelson said today.

The federal government today will introduce to parliament new laws to abolish compulsory university student union fees.

Universities face hefty fines if they ignore the new laws to make student union membership voluntary.

"The good news for the Labor Party and student activists is that they will continue to be able to pay their student union fees," Dr Nelson told ABC radio.

"There is no law preventing people from paying student union fees."

Dr Nelson said he believed there could be a market for small businesses providing services on campus instead of university unions.

"If students value the services which are sought to be offered, then presumably they will be prepared to pay something for them," he said.

Dr Nelson said Australian university students forked out $155 million last year in union fees because they were compulsory.

Advertisement"This is the 21st century and it's an important principle that all Australians, whether they be students or people in workplaces, should be free to join a union or an association and be represented by it," he said.

"But we strongly believe that students who enrol in university to get an education should not be forced to buy a product that they may not necessarily want and that it is to join a student guild, union or association.

"We think students should have the choice whether they want to be represented by some of these student representatives or not."

Dr Nelson said if universities did not comply with the new laws, they would be ordered to refund the money they collected from students within 28 days.

If they fail to do so, the universities face fines of $100 per full time equivalent student enrolled in the university.

So Brendan Nelson thinks that students "should not be forced to buy a
product that they may not necessarily want."

Well my taxes fund numerous products and services that I neither use
nor want, therefore it seems only fair that my tax is "voluntary" too.
After all shouldn't I only be prepared to pay for those services I

Often the services that the student body fund via union fees go to
help those students who would have no access to them otherwise. Can a
small group of student in dire need of counselling afford to pay for
the infrastructre to keep that service in place and available? If
everyone pays, everyone benefits, especially those in greatest need.

But perhaps Dr Nelson wouldn't have a probem with 'voluntary taxation'
as this legislation comes from a government intent on only providing
education, welfare and health to those who can afford it.



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