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Kemp gags VSU debate.

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News Release

The Hon Michael Lee, MP

Shadow Minister for Education

Member for Dobell



Kemp Gags VSU Debate


The Government gagged debate today on its voluntary student unionism legislation, denying twenty Labor MPs the right to speak, according to the Shadow Minister for Education, Michael Lee.


“By using its numbers to stop debate in the House of Representatives, the Government denied free speech on a Bill it claims is about freedom of choice,” Mr Lee said.

“If implemented, Dr Kemp’s plan for a national system of VSU will severely reduce services and support for students at every university campus in Australia. The plan has been condemned by the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, student organisations, sporting associations, State Governments, a former High Court Chief Justice, and several Coalition backbenchers.


‘The important issues at stake here deserve a decent hearing in the Parliament. Yet, not only is the Government not prepared to debate them properly, but the Minister did not even bother to appear in the House for the vote.


“Dr Kemp has been severely embarrassed by the reaction to his VSU legislation. He is anxious to keep further canvassing of the likely impact to a minimum.


“Even the Government’s freedom of choice argument was demolished at last week’s hearing of the Senate inquiry into the VSU Bill. Stuart Hamilton, Executive Director of the Australian Vice-chancellors’ Committee, told the Senate Committee that every university in Australia provides for students to “opt-out’ in some way from student union membership.


“The real reason Dr Kemp has introduced this legislation is to silence the Government’s critics. Today’s shameful behaviour by the Government in gagging debate showed it is prepared to try and silence critics inside as well as outside the Parliament."



12 May 1999


Michael Lee 02 6277 4221 Parliament House

0417 277 477 Mobile