Voluntary Student Unionism: Senator Boswell’s Speech

This is the speech given by the Nationals Leader in the Senate, Ron Boswell.

The Senate is debating the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005. The Nationals have long-supported the abolition of student union fees, believing that no-one should be forced to join a union or that their money should go to people or events that they do not support. The Nationals’ policy is to support the abolition of compulsory student union fees while also looking after the educational and other needs of students, particularly in regional areas.

This legislation gives effect to the abolition of the fees, while The Nationals have argued strongly for and secured a funding package of some $80 million that will contribute to non-educational university amenities and services. We went to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Education, Dr Nelson, and put our case in the strongest possible terms. The funding package would not be there today if it were not for the National Party. I believe it answers our policy resolution on VSU as much as is possible at this time. I am aware that there is a proposed amendment from my colleague Senator Joyce, which will be moved in the committee stage but which is not supported by the government. [Read more…]


Voluntary Student Unions Bill: Speech By Senator Bob Brown

This is the text of a speech to the Senate by Australian Greens leader Bob Brown.

Speech by Senator Bob Brown.

Senator BOB BROWN (Tasmania) (4.51 pm)— Effectively, Senator Fielding came in, threw his grenade into the student unions and then left. He has abandoned the chamber. He is not here for the debate. One has to ask: where is the package that he is aware of but the rest of the chamber does not know about? Some principled partaker in the democratic process he is!

This is Senator Fielding washing his hands of his responsibility to students as we go to Christmas. This is Senator Fielding taking his 30 pieces of silver in return for a sell-out of the student unions. It is Labor’s Senator Fielding, by the way, who is performing in this fashion. I do not mind. Senator Fielding can make up his own mind. [Read more…]


Voluntary Student Unions Bill: Speech By Senator Barnaby Joyce

This is the speech by Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce on the voluntary student unions bill.

Senator JOYCE (Queensland) (4.21 pm)—Mr Acting Deputy President—Senator Lundy—Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. According to standing order 186, when all else is in doubt you should call the senator who rises first. This is the third time I have risen to speak in this debate—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (SenatorBrandis)—I saw Senator Joyce rise first.

Senator Lundy—That is because you were looking in that direction.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT—There is no point of order.

Senator JOYCE—There have been many good arguments posed, and I will endeavour—

Senator Lundy—Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a further point of order. Perhaps you could advise me when I will be able to seek leave to incorporate my speech on the second reading, seeing that I am obviously going to be deprived of the opportunity for the third time this week to give such a speech. [Read more…]


Voluntary Student Unions Bill: Speech By Senator Kerry Nettle

This is the speech on the voluntary student unions bill by Greens Senator Kerry Nettle.

Voluntary student unions bill speech by Greens Senator Kerry Nettle.

Senator NETTLE (New South Wales) (3.59 pm)—There we go. There is the deal. At four o’clock on a Friday Senator Sell-Out comes in here to tell us that he has sold out students across this country.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brandis)—Order, Senator Nettle! Senators will address other senators by their names, not by offensive nicknames. Senator Nettle, withdraw that, please.

Senator Conroy—Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Withdraw what?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT—There is no point of order. I have called Senator Nettle to order.

Senator Conroy—I am asking what phrase you’re asking to be withdrawn. [Read more…]


Voluntary Student Unions Bill: Speech By Senator Steve Fielding

This is the text of Senator Steve Fielding’s speech on the Voluntary Student Unions bill.

Speech by Senator Steve Fielding, representing Family First.

Senator FIELDING (Victoria—Leader of the Family First Party) (3.52 pm)— This issue has been a vexed one for me and for Family First. I have looked at the issue on its merits and I genuinely believe the argument can run both ways—to retain compulsory student union fees or abolish them. I have been asked constantly for my views about the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005—for many days and weeks—and have given an honest answer, telling my parliamentary colleagues, the media and my constituents that I have not made up my mind on the bill. I have had a great deal of trouble deciding on this legislation because there are strong advocates for both sides mounting good cases. [Read more…]


Voluntary Student Unions Bill: Speech By Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja

This is the speech by Australian Democrats Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja on the voluntary student unions bill.

Speech by Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja on the voluntary student unions bill.

Senator STOTT DESPOJA (South Australia) (3.21pm)—As the only person from the Democrats who will get onto the speakers list today, I rise on behalf of the Australian Democrats to make it very clear that we strongly oppose this legislation and the process that we have observed today in this place. Today is Freaky Friday in the Senate. On Freaky Friday we have talked for an hour or so on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development involving Mongolia and spent 3½ hours on a non-controversial, bipartisan supported bill involving the establishment of Carnegie Mellon and a change to the ESOS Act. That is 3½ hours of valuable, taxpayer-funded Senate time. Earlier this week, 2½ hours was good enough for antiterrorism, which is arguably the most significant piece of legislation in this parliament’s history, let alone in the last almost decade of this coalition government. [Read more…]


Voluntary Student Unions Bill: Speech By Senator Penny Wong

This is the speech by ALP Senator Penny Wong on the voluntary student unions bill.

Speech by ALP Senator Penny Wong on the voluntary student unions bill.

Senator WONG (South Australia) (3.01 pm)—What do we see here today? We see this government, in its arrogance, continuing to treat this chamber like its own private club. You may as well make this chamber an extension of the coalition party room, because that is how you are treating it. What we are seeing today is the government moving a guillotine on a highly controversial bill and then rorting the speakers list so that they still get to speak while senators on the opposition side are cut off. That is what we are seeing from this government. [Read more…]