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May 24, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Oh dear what can the matter be…

VSM Bill stuck in select committee

Just to remind you all, Sir Roger Douglas’ Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill is still lingering around New Zealand student politics like a pungent odour. Stinking up the future of student politics, this bill and the uncertainty for students’ associations is hanging about.

If passed, Roger Douglas’s bill would see voluntary student membership (VSM) become the norm at universities nationwide. This would then force students to choose if they want to join the students’ association or not.

The current system allows students to choose to no longer be a member of their association if they have ideological objections.

Can this bill make it through the lengthy and testing legislation process in the New Zealand Government? The process has seen it through its introduction to the House, where it became publicly available and a “formal legislative proposal”.

After a successful introduction and first reading of the bill, it was voted for and referred to the Education and Science Select Committee. The select committee is currently inside their six-month time period that is given as a time frame before reporting back to the House on the proposed legislation.

The select committee began hearing submissions on the bill last month and is expected to present a report, including “recommended amendments shown and a ‘commentary’, which is the committee’s narrative explanation of its recommendations and the issues it considered”.

The select committee’s report is due to the House of Representatives on 30 September this year.

More information on the bill can be found here:

Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill

First Reading on the Bill

Education and Science Select Committee

Progress of Legislation

More information on VUWSA and its services –


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Comments (8)

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  1. peteremcc says:

    Aweful article.

    “lingering, pungent odour, stinking up student politics”?

    Wow that isn’t biased!

    And gotta love the political contortion of calling VSM “forced choice”!

    Is that like how the nasty university FORCES students to choose what papers they want to take?

  2. Jacob says:

    Meanwhile Max Hardy fails for the third time to fulfil the one weekly act which allows him to touch base with the members he purports to represent.

    I noticed Trevor Mallard said VUWSA did a good job in their submission on this Bill… ha! VUWSA only does a good job when its life depends on it – now that sounds like an argument for VSM!

  3. missmarty says:

    It should be voluntary. And free. I spent my first year at Auckland University, and my fees there were much lower, simply due to the fact that I didn’t have to pay to be in the student union.

  4. Alpha says:

    Gotta hand this one to Milky – a forced choice makes no sense. It’s a terrible way of describing VSM.

    I much prefer ‘piece of shit’.

  5. Angela Mabey says:

    For missmarty, VUWSA fees this year are $139.20.
    The difference in fees between UofA and Vic will be due to the fees being set by Uni Councils, not because of being a member of a Student Association.

  6. mcswine says:

    awful spelling Peter

  7. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Alpha / mcswine: Whether you agree with VSM or not, it’s pretty clear that portions of this article are biased against it.

    The first paragraph likens it to a “pungent odour … [s]tinking up the future of student politics”.

    The second paragraph likens it to “forc[ing] students to choose”, which is an oxymoron. “Force” implies coercing an individual to do something against their will; “choice” implies allowing an individual to decide between two or more options. You might counter that VSM “forces” the individual to actually sit down and choose between joining or not joining a students’ association, but this is not the case when the default option of not joining does not require any action from the individual.

    The third paragraph asserts that an individual can opt-out of a students’ association “if they have ideological objections”. This is not entirely true. The current legislation only allows membership exemption in cases of “conscientious objection”. The validity of an individual’s claim to such an objection – and whether or not ideological grounds count as such – is determined by the students’ association itself. In VUWSA’s case, this is done by emailing your conscientious objection to the President. If your objection is accepted, the legislation mandates that the association donate your fee “to a charity of its choice” (although the VUWSA website does state that they will donate it to a charity of the individual’s choice).

    As I said, you can agree or disagree with VSM as much as you want – but let’s call a spade a spade here.


  8. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    I should add, for the writer of the article, that I found the rest of it quite informative.


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