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.