Heather Roy’s voluntary student association membership bill has been reported back from the Education and Science Select Committee. It recommends, with a few minor changes, that the bill proceed. This is bad.
In the Select Committee we heard from individual students whose ability to stay at university or polytechnic was the result of advocacy and representation from student associations. Like the guy in Hamilton whose flat burned down and was about to be left with nothing because his insurance company gave him the run around, until the student association stepped in.
We also heard from tertiary institutions who do not support the Bill. They appreciate the representation role played by student associations, and they know that they can not provide services in a cost effective way that associations with large amounts of voluntary labour can.
We heard from Australia how their version of voluntary membership destroyed the vast majority of the services and programmes that student associations ran.
The bizarre thing about this Bill is it actually takes away a choice for students. The current law, which National put in place, allows students to decide by referenda if they will have a voluntary or universal association. That is gone.
One curious thing, is Heather Roy’s media statement on this Bill focuses on calling for National to support her bill. She says
“I call on the National Party – indeed, all Parties of this House – to support my Bill and the right to freedom of association for students throughout New Zealand,” Mrs Roy said.
Why ever would she be worried about National’s support? Didn’t they just vote it through the Select Committee? How curious.