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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 863

Senator PETER BAUME(10.39) —When we last considered the Australian National University Amendment Bill 1984 in Committee we disposed of Opposition amendment No. (2) which sought to insert certain words in section 27 (1) (o) (ii) of the Act. I now move amendment No. (3) in the following terms:

(3) Page 4, clause 16, paragraph (c), proposed new sub-paragraph 27 (1) (o) ( iii), line 36, after 'fees', insert 'the payment of which shall be voluntary and which are'.

The effect of this amendment is to introduce the principle of voluntarism, in the same way as we sought to introduce that principle in the previous amendment. But this is a more important amendment because the provision proposed by the Government will allow the funding of the Australian Union of Students, or whatever its successor organisation is. While we are concerned generally about the wide wording of the provisions in this Bill, we find this new provision even more objectionable than the one we argued against before the Committee last time we sat. Unless our amendment is included, the Government's proposal will extend the punitive sanctions of the university against students who do not want to fund organisations which are not campus organisations. It is one argument for people to say that students have a responsibility to those organisations on campus; it is quite another argument to say that students will be forced to be part of the funding of organisations which are not part of their college or university but which are, as it were, national organisations.

A general question arises in relation to the funding of outside bodies: Is this the business of the university? Is the putting of compulsion upon individual students a proper exercising of power? The proposed new sub-paragraph as it has been presented to the Committee by the Government would permit compulsion in the funding of organisations which are not part of the campus on which the students have enrolled and not part of the academic road down which the students have started. This is simply a form of taxing in support of organisations which are supra-university or supra-college and which may be national organisations. That is something we find objectionable.

The amendment we have proposed simply says that payments to national organisations-the AUS or its successor-should be voluntary. The argument the Government puts is not only that fees should be able to be paid but also that compulsorily levied fees should be paid to the national organisations. At the second reading stage I set out the objections we had to some of the activities of the AUS in the past, and the record of that national organisation shows what the funds were used for. The kinds of activities which the AUS funded are proper only where those funds are voluntarily collected.

I commend the amendment to the Committee as one which is entirely appropriate, given the fact that this provision is not one which relates to an activity on campus and is not one which relates to any proper function of scholarship or belongs to a particular campus community which could be laid upon any particular student. The amendment we have moved is entirely appropriate and one deserving of the support of the Committee.