Freedom moves closer

August 4th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Labour have spent all year blocking every single private members bill in an attempt to stop students from gaining freedom of association.

Last night they were dumbfounded (check the video out here) when Heather Roy put an end to it by using the procedural motion that the Committee report progress to the House on the Royal Society bill which had been fillibustered to prevent the bill from being debated.

The House voted to report progress, which meant that they automatically proceed to the next item of business – the VSM bill.

Trevor Mallard looked even more manic than normal, while Grant Robertson was so distraught, he looked like someone who had just been told their beloved pet cat had been run over by a car. This gives you some idea of how desperate they are to stop students being able to decide to stop funding their political mates. It is the last vestige of compulsory unionism.

Labour continued with an extended temper tantrum for an hour or so. Probably because they had been boasting to NZUSA and the student associations that they were so clever they had guaranteed the bill would not pass before the election.

It still is not guaranteed of course, but only one clause remains for the committee stage of the VSM bill, and then the third reading. That will require two more members days, but there are three scheduled before the House rises so I rate the chances as pretty reasonable.

If so, it means from 1 January 2012 finally students will have the ability to decide whether or not they personally wish to belong to a students association, and as importantly no longer be forced to fund partisan political advocacy which they disagree with.

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72 Responses to “Freedom moves closer”

  1. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

    The cherished goal of freedom of association moves closer! I have a dream that poor little students will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by being forced to join an association but by the content of their character.

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  2. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    I have a bottle of bubbly waiting for its passage.

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  3. jaba (2,141 comments) says:

    I caught some of it last night and it was great to watch .. Robertson just rambled on about nothing .. the screeching from Labour, and I mean screeching, was incredible
    They made no bones about it, when they get back in they will reverse it. They keep saying that a huge % of students want the law as is. If they want it so bad then they will join regardless.

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  4. vto (1,131 comments) says:

    Oh, you mean freedom of association like complusory kiwisaver.

    ha ha, so lame

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  5. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    They made no bones about it, when they get back in they will reverse it. They keep saying that a huge % of students want the law as is. If they want it so bad then they will join regardless.

    The problem is more that when they find that they need it, it won’t be there.

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  6. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Not so fast, DPF (or as my 2yo would say, “Not yet Dad!”).

    There’s more work to be done!

    There are quite a few associations with these despicable compulsory membership rules that need to be sorted.

    Shall we move on the Medical Council next?

    [DPF: The Medical Council is not a compulsory association. It is a state sanctioned regulator. The NZ Medical Association used to be compulsory but like all other compulsory associations has been voluntary for some time]

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  7. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Ha ha, freedom of association for doctors. Is there a petition I can sign to help them out? Is there no MP courageous enough to take up their cause?

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  8. Brad (75 comments) says:

    Pure ideology masked as ‘freedom of association’, a freedom in fact that already exists

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  9. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    I think the “no longer be forced to fund partisan political advocacy which they disagree with” is the most important bit.

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  10. Nick C (336 comments) says:

    The funniest moment occured when Rick Barker raised a point of order to complain that there were no copies of the bill available on Labour’s side of the table and thus the debate could not continue. Tau strolled across the house, dropped a copy on his desk and walked back (something which Labour raised several points of order about).

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  11. berend (1,709 comments) says:

    Luc Hansen, I eagerly await the Labour party discussing that kiwisaver should be compulsory, as that means more freedom.

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  12. Vinick (216 comments) says:

    I heard a rumour that ACT and National have been planning this for some weeks/months, and that they were holding back to guarantee Labour could not debate any of their own Member’s Bills before the election (of which there are many).

    If so, it was an absolute masterstroke, and Labour took the bait hook line and sinker, while gloating about their ‘brilliance’ oh so publicly.

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  13. Pete George (23,560 comments) says:

    Grant comments – A Report on Progress

    Progess is slow in some respects, I’m in auto moderation and someone’s complaining about Graeme Edgeler’s “frequent lengthy posts are becoming an abuse of the comments provision.”

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  14. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Jeez – the claptrap from the lefties is laughable – simply because the decision whether students want to join a union will soon be made by…. the students! If they don’t want to join a union [and therefore be forced to contribute financially to one particular political party], then they won’t have to. Brilliant!

    Likening this to the Medical Council is idiotic – after all, the Medical Council looks after (but is not limited to) medical standards and even handles disciplinary matters. But understanding this distinction requires a level head and not one permanently tilted to the left.

    This was a well planned, tactical move by Heather Roy and totally within the rules. Labour were caught with their pants down – and not for the first time either. Boo ferkin’ hoo.

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  15. GPT1 (2,121 comments) says:

    Awesome, fingers crossed this gets through. I saw some of the “debate” – that child Green MP, Gareth someone, was saying would be an end to student banks and student health care. Didn’t know students had banks and certainly at Canterbury student health services were funded from a compulsory insurance levy not UCSA. Beyond me why it should be compulsory to join a student union.

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  16. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    I think the “no longer be forced to fund partisan political advocacy which they I disagree with” is the most important bit.

    Quite so, Brian.

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  17. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Elaycee by no means do students contribute to one political party, it is simply a matter of norm than it tends to be so called “liberal” who go to univeristy as a stepping stone to a political vocation and thereby end up doing all the voting at the pathetically unattended AGM’s

    Next year if I have the choice to join a student union i will be doing so. And I may well take and interest in said voting.

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  18. berend (1,709 comments) says:

    This is Grant’s description on how important student assocations are: For me student associations are like local government.

    Publish it widely. Only by ignorance can people vote current Labour.

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  19. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    jaba>Robertson just rambled on about nothing

    I loved his pathetic repeated “I’m a relatively new member”. That makes him the second saddest MP, after Russel “Give me back my flag” Norman.

    But what causes Robertson and his mates to oppose a fundamental human right listed in the UN Declaration of Human Rights? Would they also support racism or torture if it gave them some political advantage?

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  20. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    @Murray – I look forward to your feedback after you’ve attended an AGM and suggested that the Students Union contributes to National rather than Labour. :)

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  21. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Why is there no link to the story in todays Dom Post that student associations claim what happened in the House yesterday involved the National Party betraying a promise made before the 2008 elections?

    [DPF: There was no promise. The then spokesman said something along the lines of it not being a priority]

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  22. Monty (978 comments) says:

    Elaycee – the point is that Student unions should not be using their funds to support any political party. Can you tell me when the student unions will (or ever have been) controlled by right wing students.

    In my experience the right wing students are studying real degrees, and getting a real education, they are too busy either studying or chasing a bit of Skirt or playing sport and don’t have the inclination to get involved in stunts, politics, and Student union activities to feel self important.

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  23. berend (1,709 comments) says:

    DPF: If so, it means from 1 January 2012 finally students will have the ability to decide whether or not they personally wish to belong to a students association, and as importantly no longer be forced to fund partisan political advocacy which they disagree with.

    When can the tax payer decide if it wants to fund the partisan political advocacy of Radio NZ? Or is that the right form of compulsion?

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  24. fishe (166 comments) says:

    I’m generally for the VSM bill, at least in principle, however…

    Can someone tell me how the student membership fees, although wrapped up in a “membership package”, are different from rates or taxes that we pay for living in a house and living in NZ respectively? These are not voluntary, and it seems that quite a few of the things that student membership goes towards are similar in concept to what rates/taxes pay for.

    Or am I missing something?

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  25. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    monty, because right wing students think a meal ticket to earn money is the way to feel self-important … see the income and sex survey fun thread topic?

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  26. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    I’m less concerned about students being forced to fund student advocacy than I am about me being forced to fund our military presence in Afghanistan.

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  27. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    A meal ticket? What fucking MEAL TICKET asshole? You want to come here and do some of my work before you gob off I think.

    It’s called earning a qualification and only some fucktard commie would see it as something to sneer at.

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  28. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Ryan,
    Labour’s priorities evidently differ.

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  29. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “I’m less concerned about students being forced to fund student advocacy than I am about me being forced to fund our military presence in Afghanistan.”

    Translation: Terrorists good – freedom for kiwi students bad.

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  30. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    To return to some points raised by those favouring the retention of compulsory SA-
    The issue is, and always has been, freedom of association. This isn’t a right-wing or left-wing tenet. Freedom of association allows people to form associations when it protects their interests (e.g. unions) and leave when it does not. It is supposed to be a universal – individual- human right. It’s not up for majority voting.

    The comparison to the Medical Council doesn’t work. The only justification a Free Society can have for curbing Freedom-of-Association is under a public good rationale. The Medical Council exists not to represent or protect the interests of its members. It exists to protect the public against members who – for whatever reason- threaten the public good.

    No such public good rationale exists for student associations. Student associations don’t protect the public from students.

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  31. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Murray are we felling stwwessed out at work today … care to comment on why left wing students don’t also earn qualifications while “studying, chasing skirt, playing sport” and also becoming well-rounded citizens by contributing to their community via student association involvement?

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  32. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    Lee01: Translation: Terrorists good – freedom for kiwi students bad.

    That says more about you than it does about he whose words you are “translating.”

    How about this for an alternative translation:

    Being forced to fund student political action I don’t understand or necessarily agree with = bad.
    Being forced to fund real grown-up military action I don’t understand or necessarily agree with = worse.

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  33. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    @Murray – don’t let the idiots gets to you. They wouldn’t know the effort required to earn a formal qualification – remember, no education is required for a lifestyle based on being a permanent beneficiary.

    Just another example of the politics of envy bubbling to the surface.

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  34. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    Being forced to fund left wing student political action = bad.
    Being forced to fund military action against mass murdering terrorists = good.

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  35. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Monty – not sure if you read what I posted…

    I said that Student Associations have only ever supported one party – the same party that [until last night] fought tooth and to stop this bill seeing the light of day. Decisions made to date have included that of remitting funds to the Labour Party coffers.

    I totally support freedom of association. If someone wants to join the Students Union – then fine. If someone doesn’t want to – fine again.

    Its the ability to be able to choose, that is paramount.

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  36. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    This debate is certainly amusing.

    After National changed the law to allow voluntary student membership – through a ballot – this area has clearly remained an outstanding issue of great importance.

    We are talking about a fundamental human rights here – freedom of association (or should I say freedom of student association?)

    The free and the enslaved alike look to New Zealand in this fight against the cruel torture of being forced to join a student’s association. Can we not take heart from the brave freedom fighters in the Arab spring and oppose similar totalitarianism on the campuses of New Zealand? Did our forefathers sacrifice themselves on the battlefields of the world to preserve the ability of jackbooted student politicans to make their fellows into cringing slaves?

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  37. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Elaycee, are you another who thinks that left wing students don’t study real degrees or get a real education … interesting that what monty, then murray and now yourself do is express prejudicial comments against the left as if declaring your superiority as peope by being right wingers. Is this where political creed replaces race and religion as the definition of a superior being? Is ideology the new bigotry?

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  38. Mike Readman (363 comments) says:

    If freedom of association is a fundamental human right, why can’t I opt out of the government “union”? I’m forced to pay ridiculous dues for things like Maori programming on TV. I want out, now!

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  39. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Students are accusing the National Party of breaking election promises by supporting moves to pass a law that would make student unions voluntary.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/5386448/Students-upset-at-union-backtrack

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  40. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    @mikenmild

    Be reasonable, nobody has claimed it’s torture to force people to belong to a student union, nor that that it analogous to the fate of protestors in Egypt or Syria.

    It remains however, a palpable violation of the right to freedom-of-association. Look up the UN Declaration on Universal Human rights. Student associations didn’t get an exemption.

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  41. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    SPC – oh, bollocks. Comprehension isn’t your strong point, is it?

    Anyone who gets off their arse / gains an education / makes a success of themselves in life / becomes a contributing, solid citizen, is OK by me. Regardless of political persuasion.

    But what I don’t like is the proposition [promulgated by the left] that compulsory membership of a union should remain.

    I support freedom of association and the ability of someone to personally decide whether or not to join a union.

    Capice?

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  42. Pete George (23,560 comments) says:

    Is ideology the new bigotry?

    It’s just another one that happens to be prevalent on political blogs.

    why can’t I opt out of the government “union”?

    You can do that if you move to Somalia.

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  43. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    Someone said
    I heard a rumour that ACT and National have been planning this for some weeks/months, and that they were holding back to guarantee Labour could not debate any of their own Member’s Bills before the election (of which there are many).

    If so, it was an absolute masterstroke, and Labour took the bait hook line and sinker, while gloating about their ‘brilliance’ oh so publicly.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    If ACT and National have been planning this for some weeks/months and been wasting government time then they are hypocrites. You can’t got around ringing your hands and making doom and gloom pronouncments about the state of the economy and then waste roughly $10,000 an hour sitting around doing nothing when you have have the tools to stop the wastage.

    National will be even bigger hypocrites if they go under urgency to debate anymore legislation after wasting so much of parliament’s time.

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  44. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Elaycee you should better follow the thread on the inter-play via monty and murray before commenting on it… none of it was on the voluntary association issue.

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  45. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    I see the usual tactics out again. Sigh. If I had a $1 for every time someone said “oh, I support it but don’t you think…” or the idiotic line about “student government”. I’ve yet to see a single piece of “student legislation” from these so-called “Student government” bodies.

    The one that gets me though is this one about National “promising” that it wouldn’t be passed. Suddenly a remark that something probably wont get through becomes a cast iron promise.

    And they wonder why the public won’t give them the time of day.

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  46. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    What is not being debated is that National has decided to break another election promise to get this “members bill” passed before the election.

    So how many of these members bills have been blocked by fillibuster until now because National would not do this … and now they have finally chosen to act at the last minute …

    When was the decision to help this bill made and is Don Brash involved and if so in what way?

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  47. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    SPC – I could either take some time to explain it to you or simply let it go through to the ‘keeper.

    The noise you can hear is something flying over your head.

    Pffttt.

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  48. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    scrubone – the National promise was made before the last election and has nothing to do with a private members bill since then (and a comment that this might not pass).

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  49. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Elaycee, I’ll copy and paste your generalised end of any debate last word comments and use it again sometime (sincerest flattery etc).

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  50. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    SPC – if you stop talking crap, I’ll stop pointing it out.

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  51. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    That’s too unsophisticated for me and little better than oneupmanship grunting.

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  52. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    Ryan,
    Labour’s priorities evidently differ.

    True that, Adze.

    And while being compelled to fund student welfare, advocacy and legal advice for a few hundred bucks added to your student loan per year may be distasteful to some people (and the compulsion is distasteful to me, as RRM correctly intuits), being compelled to fund the assistance of what I consider to be an utterly immoral and self-interested invasion that kills innocent people is far, far worse.

    And it was the Labour government that involved us with it.

    If they had dedicated a fraction of the effort they’ve put into opposing VSM instead into opposing military adventurism, I wouldn’t feel quite so guilty about paying my taxes.

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  53. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    With Labour & the Greens thinking themselves so clever ['smug' would be a good description don't you think Mr Nash?] with their filibustering and management of the parliamentary process, the fact that they never saw this coming is surely just more clear evidence that they are not fit to govern.

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  54. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “being compelled to fund the assistance of what I consider to be an utterly immoral and self-interested invasion”

    Fighting terrorism is not immoral.

    If by self interest you mean a democratic state defending it’s citizens against Al-Qaeda and its allies, then that self-interest is legitimate.

    “that kills innocent people”

    All wars kill innocent people. If we followed your logic the Nazi’s would currently run all of Europe.

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  55. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    All wars kill innocent people. If we followed your logic the Nazi’s would currently run all of Europe.

    If the Germans followed my logic, the Nazis wouldn’t have got off the ground.

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  56. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “If the Germans followed my logic, the Nazis wouldn’t have got off the ground.”

    We have to live in the real world, not the fantasies inside your head.

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  57. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    We have to live in the real world, not the fantasies inside your head.

    Not really addressing the point there.

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  58. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “Not really addressing the point there.”

    Sure I did. You made the point that if the political fantasies in your head were reality, Hitler, or any other tyrant/terrorist, would never, ever be a problem.

    NO politcal system, including anarchy, could actually permantly prevent a tyrant/terrorist/serial killer ever arising, because in the real world, bad things happen.

    Thus my point that we live in this world, not the one in your head.

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  59. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    Then isn’t your point that no one should bother trying to resist their government’s immoral military actions?

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  60. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “Then isn’t your point that no one should bother trying to resist their government’s immoral military actions?”

    Fighting terrorism is not immoral.

    Fighting Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies is not immoral.

    Opposing this military action IS immoral.

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  61. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    Fighting terrorism is not immoral.

    Neither is preventing the cleansing of ethnic Germans in Poland.

    But if one is inclined to think that there are other motives at work, then the issue becomes a little more complex than simply fighting evil.

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  62. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “But if one is inclined to think that there are other motives at work, then the issue becomes a little more complex than simply fighting evil”

    Sorry, but I don’t have a cure for stupidity.

    Conspiracy theories are for people who cannot formulate a legitimate argument based on facts, i.e, the terminally stupid.

    Once again, we are back to dealing with the fantasies in your head.

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  63. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    Once again, we are back to dealing with the fantasies in your head.

    Governments being driven by ulterior motives in using their military power is a fact of life. To deny it is naive.

    In the cases of these current invasions and occupations, government motives may be unusually moral or self-defensive.

    You believe so. I am not convinced. But I hope you can see my point about it being of more importance to me than VSM, and the rather frustrating lack of diversity of opinion between Labour and National.

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  64. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “Governments being driven by ulterior motives in using their military power is a fact of life. To deny it is naive.”

    Always? No. Government are SOMETIMES driven by ulterior motives, and sometimes driven by legitimate threats. To deny that is naive in the extreme.

    “I hope you can see my point about it being of more importance to me than VSM,”

    So what? If it is, then feel free to stay out of the VSM debate rather than introduce obnoxious rants about Afghanistan.

    “and the rather frustrating lack of diversity of opinion between Labour and National”

    Personally, unlike many others here on both the left and the right, I think thats a good thing. It shows that both parties are trying to stay close to the centre.

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  65. Ryan Sproull (7,144 comments) says:

    Always? No. Government are SOMETIMES driven by ulterior motives, and sometimes driven by legitimate threats. To deny that is naive in the extreme.

    I didn’t say always, did I? I even talked about the possibility of it not being true in these cases.

    So what? If it is, then feel free to stay out of the VSM debate rather than introduce obnoxious rants about Afghanistan.

    Feel free to ignore me, or continue to whine. Or you can install RIP on Firefox and filter me out. Options galore.

    Personally, unlike many others here on both the left and the right, I think thats a good thing. It shows that both parties are trying to stay close to the centre.

    That’s a fair enough position, but I think many others here on both the left and the right would disagree that just because something’s centrist, it’s better or more likely to be good.

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  66. Rick Rowling (813 comments) says:

    So how many of these members bills have been blocked by fillibuster until now because National would not do this … and now they have finally chosen to act at the last minute …

    Wait … what?

    So Labour denies all Private Member’s Bills a hearing by Labour filibustering … yet in SPC’s world it’s National’s fault because they didn’t circumvent Labour’s filibuster?

    One-eyed much?

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  67. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    I personally support the bill. Unfortunately it may mean some disruption for some students that rely on some student services in the next year or two as the funding situation is unclear, but everything will settle down again in time to pretty much what we have now already: Students will end up paying about the same amount and will receive about the same services – it will simply be funded through compulsory student fees rather than “separately” (most students won’t even notice the difference).

    What I find absolutely dispicable is the politicking. From both sides of the house if what is said above is to be believed. Labour filibustering for months on end has been a complete waste of time. Similarly, if National/ACT have been conspiring to do the same then that’s just as much a waste of time.

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  68. Rufus (667 comments) says:

    Ryan & Lee – take it to GD. You’re off topic.

    Been waiting for this moment since I first became a tertiary student in 1997. Seriously dislike the various student unions I’ve had to fund since then. My current one at CPIT is a mess.

    Bring on freedom!

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  69. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    lefty

    That’s just parliamentary tactics in play. Private members’ bills are rarely of any significance, they are usually just an opportunity to showcase a position. Filibustering is a legitimate and available tactic. As for time wasting, hey we are talking about Parliament here…

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  70. Nick C (336 comments) says:

    You can’t opt out of government because government is a nessessary evil if we want a society with property rights and individual choice.

    Forcing people to join student associations isn’t nessesary, its just evil.

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  71. reid (16,448 comments) says:

    What really gets me about this is that Liarbore wasn’t doing it out of principle, it was doing it for the utmost venal reason: Student Unions are its hatchery. It teaches young Liarbore who are the only ones most of the time who give a damn at that age, the ropes.

    Lessening the hatchling’s power by making it voluntary makes those ropes less realistic when they graduate to the big time. Down the track it also opens the gate to quelle horreur – an alternative competitive union which isn’t populated with Liarbore acolytes. Oh dear!

    But that’s what it is. Naked vested interest. Performed of course without regard to the other members whose bills weren’t heard. They don’t matter, do they, not compared to Liarbore’s hatchery.

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  72. Dazzaman (1,140 comments) says:

    Grant Robertson would have a pet cat…….the closest he’ll ever get to pussy.

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