Tuesday, 17 October 2017
Higher Education: Student Services and Amenities Fee
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) over one million Australian tertiary students are forced to pay up to $294 per year as a Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF),
(ii) students at the moment have very little say in how the SSAF monies are spent by their universities and student associations, and
(iii) SSAF is levied regardless of students' need, willingness and ability to access the services and activities they are paying for; and
(b) calls on the Government to amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 so that the SSAF can only be levied with the support of the majority of students at each university campus in a mandatory ballot conducted once an academic year.
Thank you. The coalition strongly opposed Labor's repeal of the voluntary student unionism laws passed under the Howard government. For many Liberals and conservatives, guaranteeing students the basic right to freely associate and not be forced to join or contribute funds to a student union has been a lifelong principle. The government will support part (a).
However, part (b) does not reflect the key principle of ensuring freedom of association for all students at all times. It creates an illusion of voluntary student unionism through the use of campus- or institution-wide ballots. Compelling all students to join and fund an organisation by a ballot of their peers is just as illegitimate on campus as if it happened in a workplace or anywhere else in our community. As such, I ask that the question on part (a) be put separately from the question on part (b).
In that case, I will comply with that request. Under general business notice of motion No. 514, we will first of all consider the question of part (a). The question is that part (a) of notice of motion No. 514 be agreed to.
S enator Wi lliams did not vote, to compensate for the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Ludlam.
S enator Smith did not vote, to compensate for the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Waters .