Friday, December 9, 2005

The voluntary student unionism bills that have been proposed earlier in the year by the Australian government in the Australian House of Representatives has been passed by the Australian Senate December 9, without amendment, after an unexpected urgency motion that afternoon. The voluntary student unionism bills aim to stop the compulsory joining of university students into the student union and the consequential abolition of payment of the union fees, which sometimes go to certain amenities and services provided to university students. Many students, associations, and vice-chancellors of universities are opposed to the legislation, with rallies and days of action taking place earlier this year. In the process, Senator Steve Fielding of the Family First Party held the key vote who expressed his late decision to support the passage of the VSU legislation.

The VSU legislation was earlier anticipated to be debated at the next session — that is, next year — but appeared on the notice paper today in case the Senate had time to discuss the bill, however, at approximately 1.40pm an urgency motion was moved on a number of bills, including the voluntary student unionism (VSU) legislation which entered the Senate yesterday. The urgency motion allots time on the second reading to extend to 4.30pm and remaining stages of the bill to 5.00pm. The Senate was to adjourn at 3.30pm, but this was extended to approximately 5.15-5.30pm.