National has made its first public show of support for a bill to dismantle compulsory student unions.
National would support ACT’s Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill at its first reading this month, associate education minister Wayne Mapp said yesterday.
The bill, originally sponsored by Dr Mapp’s fellow associate education minister Heather Roy of ACT, would require student unions to hold annual membership drives to receive their levies.
Under the current law, unions with compulsory membership can collect levies automatically as part of students’ enrolment fees.
National’s own membership bill in 1998 saw a series of binding referenda on campuses: while around half the polytechnic unions turned voluntary, Auckland and Waikato were the only university unions who opted to do so.
This is not quite correct. National’s VSM bill in the mid to late 1990s was very similar to this bill. However New Zealand First refused to support it beyond select committee, so a compromise was done which was the 1998 law of referenda.
National would listen to the views of submitters before deciding whether to support the bill further, he said.
“Students remain the only group in society forced to join a union,” he said.
“Students should be able to make their own decision about joining a student association — this ensures that their freedom of association is upheld.”
Compulsory membership of student associations means executives have little or no incentives to manage their associations well or responsibly. When your members have the ability to decide not to renew their membership, it encourages the association to focus much more closely on issues their members want them to be involved with rather than the pet issues of a few dozen activists.
Plus of course one should n0ot have to fund political representation you disagree with. The notion of a student association speaking for all students is as absurd as a residents association speaking for all residents.
It is excellent to see National living up to its principles of freedom of association.