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“Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Voluntary Student Unionism Counter Protest

Posted by Atilla89 on March 19, 2008

Today I decided to attend a counter protest against those protesting against Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU); pictures are below. Firstly I want to say that everyone including myself had a great time, screaming out chants and generally trying our best to make life hell for the other protesters. There was quite a few police on the road between us and them. There was even riot police just in case things got out of hand. There was between 40 and 50 of us and at least 200+ of them. The protest was held on Parramatta Rd with students from multiple universities such as Sydney University, UNSW, UTS and Macquarie University taking part. Our counter protest theoretically started at 12pm and run until 2pm, however it was more like 5 minutes of actual protest time.

Now, let me explain the issue at hand if you are unfamiliar. VSU is a practice put in to place by the Howard Government that gave the option to students whether they wanted to join Australian National Union of Students (ANUS) or not. Its not cheap to join the union, $99, however you do get benefits out of it like being allowed to join clubs, getting discounts, having a say in political matters, etc. I myself belong to this union as do many students. However, this is not the issue. The issue is choice; at the moment people can choose whether they want to fork out $99 or not. Rudd has pledged that he will keep it that way. However the Student Union at my university wants to change this, believing that they have been weakened by VSU. I am against this, even though I still am apart of them. The Australian Liberal Student’s Federation explains it better here.

“VSU has benefited students across Australia” said Timothy Andrews, President of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation.

“Statistics show that under VSU, students have saved an average of over $200 annually – and in some cases as much almost $500. Unions that have embraced the needs of students and improved services are now reaping the rewards of increased revenue through greater membership. While elite student politicians complain about their salary cuts, real students have benefited from this reform. VSU is about Students, not student unions”.

Mr Andrews dismissed claims that VSU had seen essential campus services cut from Australian universities.

”Services that are valued by students have been retained due to their popularity. If student organisations are as good as Labor claims, 100% of students would join voluntarily. Students should not be forced to pay twice for essential government services such as childcare if Kevin Rudd fails to provide them.”

“Despite clear evidence of the benefits of VSU, Labor seems intent on breaking its pre-election promise and reintroduce compulsory student unionism by stealth. Kate Ellis has consistently refused to rule out imposing a compulsory fee on students. Regardless of what it is named, the horror of compulsory unionism is a real threat under Labor.”

“Compulsory amenities fees are no more than compulsory unionism by stealth. They failed students in Victoria and they will fail students elsewhere. These proposals are unequitable, unjust and will not only violate students rights to freedom of association, but will significantly damage student life on campus.

Under the proposal being put forward by the Australian National Union of Students, individuals would be charged a compulsory levy to be debited against their HECS loan.

Mr Andrews labeled the plan as hypocritical.

“You cannot on one hand argue that the cost of higher education is too high, yet be calling for an extra $179 million per annum to be charged to student loans,” said Mr Andrews, referring to the cost of compulsorily acquired service fees. Both Labor and the NUS have consistently attacked the cost of university education, Mr Andrews added.

“This is simply compulsory student unionism re-badged,” Mr Andrews said. “It does not allow students to choose whether they pay for services that they will not use – it simply means an increase in their HELP debt.”

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The ‘others’ aka ANUS Protesters + Police Escort

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One Response to “Voluntary Student Unionism Counter Protest”

  1. Scouse said

    Freedom of choice is very important. It is important to know that the Labour Party was formed by Trade Unions and so will always push for membership, seemingly at any cost. When will governments understand that Education and Health will always cost money, this is why we have taxes.

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