VSM Reaction

September 25th, 2009 at 8:32 am by David Farrar


A snap of Sir Roger with Salient Editor Jackson Wood, showing off one of the badges funded out of compulsory student association fees that say “Leave us alone Roger”.

The irony is that it is fact the compulsory student associations that won’t leave students alone. And that they spend their compulsory funds on stupid badges.

I doubt anyone actually believes the press releases from various student unions, but just in case. First of all OPSA:

ACT’s bill differs from previous attempts at voluntary membership. It will not only force voluntary membership on all campuses irrespective; but it is essentially the same as the “full-blown” type tried in recently in Australia, where institutions are not allowed to charge a compulsory services levy and use this to buy services from students’ associations.

The bill is in fact very much in line with the three previous bills in the 1990s. They all allowed individual students to decide whether or not to join. The current law was a last minute compromise by NZ First.

The issue of service levies has arisen, because it has become de facto compulsory membership in some areas with an institution funding an association through this back door.

Then Te Mana Ākonga:

“The National government have expressed previously that they would like better outcomes for Māori in education. TMA questions how this view is possible if they take the reliable tools we have, this being our voice and the right to express our autonomy” said Poutu

Except Maori students do not have autonomy. They are forced to join the compulsory student associations. Post VSM, Maori student associations could actually compete for members with the main student associations. Students should have a choice as to whether to join any or all of the main campus association, their faculty association, a Maori association if they are Maori.

Then Albany Students Association:

The Albany Students’ Association, a not-for-profit incorporated society that currently serves over 7,000 Massey University Albany campus students, relies heavily on student membership levies and, without them, would be economically crippled. “Contrary to what the ACT Party is suggesting, students are able to opt out of membership if they do not want to be a part of their students’ association, but most of them appreciate and support the fact that we provide student-focused services such as Orientation; student publications, independent advocacy advisors, and welfare services.

They contradict themselves in the same paragraph. They claim with compulsion they would be crippled, yet also claim students can opt out and the fact most don’t is because they do such a good job.

NZUSA do the same:

“Independent representation, advocacy and support, sporting and cultural clubs and social events such as Orientation would all be under threat in the unlikely event that this Bill succeeds, and all in the name of choice – which already exists!” said Blair.  …

New Zealand would do well to heed the lessons from the disaster that recently unfolded in Australia, which saw associations collapse nationwide under a voluntary system, …

I think the SAs must think MPs are morons. They keep claiming there already is choice, yet also claim that voluntary membership will see associations collapse.

What they really mean is that students have choice, in the Cuban sense of choice. A Claytons choice.

NZUSA vows to fight to keep students in the driving seat and interfering politicians out, and to win the battle to protect universal membership and retain quality advocacy and representation for New Zealand students. They deserve nothing less.

Oh really NZUSA should feature in a George Orwell novel. Their fight to stop students being able to decide whether or not to join a student assocaition they label as fighting to keep students in the driving seat.

It sounds like apartheid era South Africa’s defence of the “homelands” on the basis of keeping Black South Africans in the driving seat.

And then they use the Orwellian term universal membership and call it something to be protected. This is like calling armed forces conscription “universal service” and pledging to fight for the right fo young people to be conscripted!

Finally they push the myth they represent New Zealand students. They do not. No one body can represent NZ students. Students have diverse views on issues, and students should be able to decide to fund the views they agree with.

The CTU also joins the fray. Yes the Council of Trade Unions. Their members lost the right to have compulsory membership in the 1980s but they battle for student unions to remain the last hold out

CTU president Helen Kelly said the bill guaranteed the loss of essential student support services.

“Student associations provide critical services such as student loan advice, welfare support, advocacy services, sporting and cultural clubs and facilities that are all essential for student welfare,” she said.

“The loss of these services would be incalculable.”

What a load of nonsense. Student Loan advice?? VUWSA (for example) couldn’t even balance its own budget for most of the decade. Their history of financial mismanagement would make them as suitable to be student loan advisors, as it would be Charlie Sheen to give monogamy advice.

Advocacy services, means advocating for Labour and the Greens – not an essential service. Students should get to choose their advocates.

And is the CTU really claiming that sporting and cultural club are “essential” for student welfare? Oh my God what would we do without the chess club.

Of course that also assumes these clubs would disappear under VSM. They won’t. They just won’t get grants to subsidise (generally) their travel. But the vast majority of clubs will carry on – with students deciding to join and participate in them – as they do now.

The ASPA Awards

September 14th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I was one of the judges for the Best Website section of the Aotearoa Student Press Association Awards, so went along to the awards ceremony on Thursday night.


Barry Soper (left) was the Awards MC and Guest Speaker. Laura McQuillan was the Awards organiser.

I knew a few of the other Judges, and got to meet some I hadn’t already met, such as the Dom’s Post Greer McDonald, and Nicky Hager. No doubt Whale and Cactus will expel me again from the VWRC for fraternising with Nicky. I did ask Nicky to consider revealing one day in the future (as in many decades time after the people involved are dead) who or how he got the National Party e-mails,for the sake of accurate history.


The Salient team accepting the Publication of the Year award, with editor Jackson Wood next to Barry.

The full list of awards was:

  1. Best Website – Craccum
  2. Best Headline – Critic for “Students spitroasted at CoC fight”
  3. Best Cartoonist – Robyn Kenealy of Salient and Maria Brett of Critic
  4. Best Original Photography – Clinton Cardozo of Debate
  5. Best Sports Writer – Brad Kreft of Critic
  6. Best Education Series – Joshua Drummond of Nexus
  7. Best Humour Content – Joseph Harper of In Unison
  8. Best Reviewer – Joseph Harper of In Unison
  9. Best Columnist – Dr Love of Magneto and Liz Willoughby-Martin of Critic
  10. Best Cover – Salient
  11. Best Editorial Writer – Ryan Boyd of Debate
  12. Best Feature Writer – Sarah Robson of Salient
  13. Best News Writer (unpaid) – Jessy Edwards of Salient
  14. Best News Writer – (paid) – Stacey Knott of In Unison
  15. Best Feature Content – Nina Fowler of Salient
  16. Best Design – Chaff
  17. Best Small Publication – Magneto
  18. Best Publication – Salient

Was a fun night. It wound down a bit before midnight when some headed into town. Thanks to Fairfax for sponsoring it, and well done to the winners and finalists.

First declared candidate for Mt Albert

April 21st, 2009 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Jackson Wood, who is also the Editor of Salient, has declared his candidacy for Mt Albert. His release:

Crowds numbering into the hundreds assembled in the Victoria University quad today for the declaration of candidacy of Jackson James Wood in the Mt. Albert by-election.

Wood, student journalist and part-time philatelist, energised the crowd with a speech attacking the air of complacency surrounding the by-election.

“Too long have the people of Mt. Albert not been taken seriously by the major parties” Wood said.

“A string of low-profile nobodies have been stood by both Labour and National in Mt. Albert in the last twenty-eight years and it is time for this to change.”

To screams of appreciation and wails of lust, Wood announced the central platform of his candidacy.

“I’ve had enough of Auckland being unofficially run by MP’s whose interests truly lay in Wellington – it is time to make it official.”

In a question and answer session following his speech, Wood acknowledged the unconventional nature of campaigning for an electorate he had never visited.

“While it is true I have never visited Mt. Albert, I do in fact live in Mt. Victoria – and anyone who knows their history will accept that is close enough”.

A by-election wouldn’t be the same without the fringe candidates.

Hopefully though Jackson can get his staff to stop spamming before he starts campaigning.