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VSU legislation attempt to silence students.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Lyn Allison Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Victoria Australian Democrats spokesperson for Education & Training

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Democrats Senator for South Australia

Dated: 16 March 2005 Press Release Number: 05/119 Portfolio: Education & Training

VSU Legislation Attempt to Silence Students

The Australian Democrats said new legislation to ban compulsory student unionism is an arrogant attempt to impose the Governments ideological agenda on students and universities and to silence those who have criticised the Governments funding policies.

Senator Lyn Allison, Leader of the Australian Democrats said students need and deserve adequate representation and services and the Democrats will oppose the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill.

University Vice-Chancellors, staff and students support student organisations and the vital services and support they provide to students, staff and their local communities, Senator Allison said.

Student organisations are providing many services that no one else could or would provide, and many disadvantaged students rely heavily on those services.

We will oppose this flagrant attempt to muzzle students from speaking out on Government decisions.

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, Democrats Higher Education spokesperson said the Democrats believe that students must be able to control their own affairs to protect their academic and social rights and we will stand united with students, staff and Vice-chancellors in opposing this attack on students.

The 2003 Senate inquiry, Hacking Australias Future, recommended that the VSU legislation be rejected in its entirety.

Senator Allison said Education Minister Dr Nelson has recently been complaining about personal attacks on himself in the Parliament, but his comments about the service from student union staff are a direct personal attack on all students who are employed by their student organisation - of which there are thousands.

The presence of another fine for universities if they disobey the Minister is another sign of the draconian measures this Government uses to enforce its ideological policies, Senator Allison said.

The Education Minister is listening to his colleagues ideological objections to student organisations and ignoring the sector.