BREAKING NEWS: National will back VSM billPosted: September 10, 2009
After our post on Roger Douglas’ VSM bill I took the liberty of emailing a few key players to find out where they stood on the issue. Associate education minister Heather Roy was obviously all for it, since she was the bill’s original sponsor. Education minister Anne Tolley did not respond (again, no surprises there), and nor did her other associate minister Pita Sharples.
But the other other associate minister, Wayne Mapp, was refreshingly frank. His unedited reply is below.
Thank you for your email regarding the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill.
National is supporting this Bill through to Select Committee and we will be listening to the views of submitters before deciding whether we will support the Bill further).
At the vast majority of tertiary institutions, students automatically become members of the student association. Under current law this can only be changed if 10% of students enrolled at the institution petition the tertiary institution for a referendum on the issue and the majority vote for voluntary membership.
The proposed changes will enable students to choose if they want to join a student association. Students remain the only group in society forced to join a union.
Students should be able to make their own decision about joining a student association – this ensures that their freedom of association is upheld.
But compare and contrast with National’s policy in the run-up to the last election, where then-tertiary education spokesperson Paul Hutchison in August told union representatives the party would not support any changes to existing legislation.
[UPDATE: NZPA ran my story on National’s support for the VSM bill, Labour responded with a less-than-frothing rebuttal, and ACT were uncharacteristically reticent with not a press release to be seen.]