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August 8, 2011 | by  | in News |
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VSM Is Probs Happening

A future of voluntary student member-ship looks nearly certain after Labour’s attempts to delay the bill were thwarted last week.
Until last Thursday’s Members’ Day, Labour had been filibustering on the Royal Society of New Zealand Amendment Bill. This consequently delayed the debate on Heather Roy’s Freedom of Association Bill, which makes membership of students’ associations voluntary. They were hoping that this tactic would prevent the Bill being passed before the election.

On Wednesday afternoon ACT MP Heather Roy moved that the Committee of the House ‘report progress’ on the Royal Society Bill. This meant that debate on the Bill was postponed until the next Member’s Day. As a result the VSM Bill was debated.

Labour attempted to delay the Bill but debate reached Clause 9 (of 10) before the House adjourned for the night. This means that the Bill is extremely likely to pass before the end of the year.

NZUSA are very disappointed that the Government supported Roy’s motion to debate the Bill and say it breaks the promise the National Party made with NZUSA.
“National MPs have told us as recently as two weeks ago that this Bill would not pass before the election,” said David Do, co-president of NZUSA.

“We have been negotiating very hard and in good faith with National and ACT to get better solutions on the table. The actions of the Government fly in the face of these discussions, reneging on commitments we’ve had from National Government MPs that the Bill would not pass,” said co-president Max Hardy.
They say they still want to negotiate with the Government to find a workable alternative to the current bill.

“Students’ associations will be continuing to seek a sensible solution and are imploring the Government to work with us on achieving this. We call
on the Government to see sense, to prioritise education over politics,”
says Hardy.

NZUSA say this will mean students’ associations will now not have adequate time to prepare for the massive changes VSM will cause. This
call has been echoed by VUWSA President Seamus Brady.

“The timing of the Bill’s current implementation date (January 1st 2012) is destructive and impractical. Institutional milestones have been missed—consultation on the 2012 Student Services Levy was completed three weeks ago.”

However, supporters of the Bill are celebrating its imminent passage.

“It’s fantastic that more than two decades after the end of compulsory trade unionism, student unions will also finally become voluntary and students will no longer be the only group in New Zealand forced to join an organisation against their will,” says ACT on Campus President Peter McCaffrey.

“VSM will mean that each year students will be free to decide, for themselves, whether to join their students’ association or not. They can find out what services the association provides, what issues they focus on, and what the benefits of joining are, and then compare that with the membership fee, and decide whether they think joining would be worthwhile.”

The Bill will again be debated on the next Members’ Day on 17 August,
with it expected to receive the Royal Assent in mid-September.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Finally says:

    I wonder if VUWSA will agree to fund the VSM celebration party.

  2. YAY VSM! says:

    Had Labour not wasted the last handful of members’ days filibustering those ‘institutional milestones’ wouldn’t have been missed. You’ve only your precious Labour party to blame for that, Seamus…

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