Tuesday 30 August 2005

Mr FINCH (Rosevears - Motion) - Mr President, I move -

That the Legislative Council supports retention of a compulsory general student services and amenities fee and requests the Australian Government to reconsider its policy on this issue.

Mr President, it is never too late to compromise. I am not alone in believing the Federal Coalition has got itself into a bit of a bind by lumping the issue of compulsory student unionism together with the payment of student fees for the provision of sporting facilities, child care, catering and other student services.

The Federal Education minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, seems to be standing firm on his commitment to force voluntary student services and amenities fees on all university campuses, despite suggestions of reasonable compromises by Senator Barnaby Joyce and the Opposition Leader, Mr Kim Beazley. However, I should like to note at this stage, Mr President, the fact that the minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, is reported to have originally proposed a more moderate proposal to deny student politicians access to compulsory student levies whilst still allowing universities to charge a service fee to fund things like sport, campus catering and student welfare but he seems to have been defeated in the party room.

As I say, it is never too late to compromise and that is why I think support for this motion is important. It is important for the maintenance of student services by the University of Tasmania. The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Daryl Le Grew, also separates the two issues of voluntary membership of student associations and the freedom to choose those services offered by universities that they may wish to pay for. As he put it in an article in the Australian on 17 August:

'Many of my colleagues would join me in agreeing with the first count - making membership voluntary - so let's put that aside in the spirit of a good, compromise solution. The second point, however, that universities not be permitted to collect the services and amenities fee nor be able to replace it from other funding sources, is anathema to me and many of my colleagues.

Why? Because it is not so much a matter of freedom of choice as a question of whether or not universities can provide essential services at all. Choice is fine, but there must be something to choose from.

The University of Tasmania and universities across Australia are devising means to cope with VSU should it eventuate, but the reality is that it will be difficult. On the face of it, letting students choose which services they want to pay for seems understandable, creating such a user?pays university is not a viable option. Even if 10 per cent of students needed a service, the cost of providing it is impractically high.'

And that is the end of the quote from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania, Daryl Le Grew. His last point is one which I would like to expand on: the present system of compulsory student services amenities fees leads to highly cost-efficient service provision. I would like to quote from one example of this efficiency at the university's Launceston campus. The present system allows the provision of university gym membership at $260 a year. That $260 compares with the cheapest comparable gym membership in Launceston at $548 a year. Those gym facilities at the university campuses of Launceston and Hobart are also open to the public. Another example is child care, which is efficient and above all flexible and that is an important factor for students. Just while I am talking about child care, let us remember the mature-age students with children and the single parents who are struggling to balance a university degree with bringing up children alone. Are we to deny them the cost-effective and flexible childcare facilities that are available now on campus? Parents well know the very time-consuming and costly business of driving children to child care and then going on to work.

It is not just gyms, sporting facilities and child care involved, Mr President. There are facilities that help to hold university communities together - cafes, bars, restaurants, accommodation and a host of other services. We have to view university campuses like towns or villages. The University of Tasmania includes just under 6 100 students and 500 staff, so that is 6 600 residents on the two main campuses, and that is a substantial community. Like all communities, you would expect these ones to pay the equivalent of a compulsory rate for services. There seems to be no quibble with council taxes - unless you have a new valuation bombshell like the one that was dropped in Launceston last week.

Mrs Smith - That will make front page in the Examiner.

Mr FINCH - Student fees can validly be compared to council rates, what Daryl Le Grew describes as 'the sort of "civilisation fee" that everyone pays, even though they may not use all the services provided'. I will continue the quote from the Vice-Chancellor:

'Making sure that a sufficient level of access to a reasonable range of services spreads the costs and gives the students the assurance that support is at hand when they need it. This is no different from life in the broader community.'

That last point is highly important. That is what our communities are about: people combining together in a community to provide mutual support when it is needed. That is what gives us human beings a feeling of belonging, a feeling of community. I would argue that without that feeling we are that poorer.

It is the university community that helps the sometimes shy and bewildered first-year students to become part of a secure university life. In their first days on the campus the various student support groups and facilities help students, particularly rural students, assimilate. Providing this backup is not an appropriate role for academic staff. It must come from other students and student groups. The present system allows the university door to be opened by fellow students, with peer support for both Tasmanian and overseas students.

At this stage, Mr President, I would like to mention our overseas students. There will be 500 of them studying at the University of Tasmania next year. These students do not just come to Tasmania for academic study. Let us face it, they can get more and more of that where they come from. Overseas students come to the University of Tasmania to experience our culture and our community. They eventually return to their own countries with a much better understanding and even affection for Tasmania. About 250 of next year's overseas students intake will be Chinese students. China is our major trading partner of the future. How better for our Tasmanian exporters to deal with Tasmanian university-educated trading partners? Making overseas students feel at home, participating in our university community, is not just the friendly thing to do, it has inestimable economic value for Tasmania. I just hope that I am not labouring the word 'community' too much, Mr President. It is also important to remember that university campuses in Tasmania are part of our wider community. Many of us of course have seen the very moving annual graduation ceremony in Launceston's magnificent Albert Hall, preceded by that procession that makes its way through the streets.

Facilities provided through student services fees are also facilities in our wider community. They help those outside the halls of Academe to understand university life and perhaps persuade some of them to become mature?aged students. Let us remember, Mr President, if university student fees do not provide some of these services then students will use those provided by ratepayers and that will place an additional burden on some already-stretched, council-provided facilities. That is why this argument is not just one for university communities but also for the wider community and for local government.

What are these compulsory university student fees? You would think they were massive, from the importance that the coalition Government seems to place on them. In other places, like the United States, they are massive - thousands of dollars. I believe that student services fees at universities like Harvard are in the order of $9 000. What is the top fee at the University of Tasmania? It is $264 a year for a full?time student, Mr President. Distance students and those at Burnie pay half that, about $130 a year. Those doing a single subject pay $33 a year but the university pays that for them, not the student. It is a very reasonable cost for a wide range of services and support. Abolish those very reasonable annual fees and replace them with voluntary payments for individual services and bang, there goes your university community.

Imagine converting Launceston to a similar system. Some streets would become impassable because residents might have other priorities than pavement maintenance. Why bother with a rubbish collection service when you can dump it yourself and you can say goodbye the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, as we know it. It is unthinkable, Mr President. Imagine the cost of a municipal rubbish collection system if only three people in the street choose to pay for it. That same argument applies to services and amenities on university campuses. Why run a gym if only a small percentage of students want to pay for it and use it? Cafes, restaurants, bars, the childcare facilities, you would have to forget them. University students are already paying high fees for their education. High-cost, inefficient, user?pays facilities would be the last straw. Students would not pay for them and they would disappear.

Mr President, my fellow members might have noticed a Tasmanian Electoral Commission advertisement in Saturday's newspapers. It was for the 2005 annual elections for positions on the university's Launceston student association and it indicates the association's wide-ranging role. The Electoral Commissioner is to conduct the annual elections for following positions and I quote:

'President; Vice-President (Education); Vice-President (Activities); Post?Graduates Students' Officer; External Students' Officer; International Students' Officer; Cradle Coast Campus Representative; Inveresk Campus Officer; three delegates to the National Union of Students; Treasurer; Media Officer; Sports Officer; Welfare Officer; Women's Officer; Environment Officer.'

So it is a complex organisation that we are dealing with, Mr President. We have heard arguments from the University of Tasmania's Vice-Chancellor and numerous others. But what about the students themselves, what do they think of the compulsory fees for student services? I would like to quote some who support the system. Here is what Poon, a first-year student from Thailand has to say:

'Yes [I support compulsory fees] because the Student Association has helped me sort out all my problems since I got here. The first day I arrived in Launceston I was homeless and lost. I arrived in Launceston without having a place to live. The SA helped me look for a place to live, as well as assisting me around town, it even helped me getting a bank account opened.'

Mr President, Poon will go back to Thailand, hopefully not only with a degree, but with an enduring gratitude to the student association, with a feeling of connection to our Tasmanian society.

Here is another example. A first?year architectural student, Richard Jung Jyh Chian, says:

'The SA protects new students … and are someone for us to see if we are in trouble. It's a good way for students to help students, as they relate to each other well. When students have problems it is good to have another student to talk to.'

A second-year nursing student from Malaysia, Ching Ling, says:

'I think the Student Association is really useful and helpful because it provides so much. Although some services may be available in our suburb just outside university, it really makes a difference having them on campus. I also couldn't imagine a university without student representation, as it takes peers to get in the know of what most students like or dislike, or what we would change about the university to make it a better place for future students.'

They are overseas students. Let us hear from three Tasmanian students, Mr President. Simon Curtis, a second-year Human Movement student, says:

'It is a sad fact that most students don't realise how many services are going to be wiped out with this legislation. Not only do a lot of students not know how much the SA provides, but they also don't realise how important some services are until they reach a point that they need them.'

Tuesday 30 August 2005 - Part 2

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I certainly thank my fellow members for their comments and especially those who have spoken in support of the motion.

Mr Harriss - And those who are yet to decide.

Mr FINCH - And those who are yet to decide. Thank you. The motion was always aimed at trying to retain services for students at the University of Tasmania and I hope that those with reservations come round to the defence of our university facilities before the vote is taken but I am firmly convinced that the Coalition is divided on its proposed legislation to ban all compulsory student fees for services and amenities.

Motions like this one around the country may help break that stalemate for the good of the students, particularly in regions like ours here in Tasmania. That is why I strongly urge this House to send that very message to the Federal Government. We, in this House, can help the Government come to its compromise. A compromise which achieves the Federal Government's basic aim of getting politics out of student associations is to be applauded, while maintaining highly cost-effective services and amenities which promote that sense of community that I spoke about for our students.

Those students are, of course, our sons and daughters and their friends. We here are not alone in debating this issue. As I mentioned, our fellow Legislative Councillors in Victoria voted for a similar motion, albeit left biased. However, so has the Queensland Parliament and the Bendigo City Council. Similar motions have been approved by National Party members in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland at the last count. All these motions, Mr President, and the views of a number of Liberal parliamentary members and Nationals will have an influence on the outcome.

Mr President, I would just like to briefly summarise the main points in the argument I presented today. The Coalition has lumped together two issues which are really quite separate: student political activism and the provision of student services and amenities. Second, the Vice?Chancellor of the University of Tasmania says the argument about choice is fine but he strongly argues that for choice on student services and amenities to work, there must be something to choose from. I believe the argument that voluntary fees will diminish any choice over services and amenities is a convincing one.

Third, the cost of providing services which only a few are prepared to pay for is prohibitively high. The present system of compulsory student fees leads to a highly cost-effective service provision, such as the gym facilities that I mentioned at Launceston; less than half the cost of gyms in Launceston's centre. There is the flexible childcare facilities which are essential for mature-age students.
With close to 7 000 students and staff, the University of Tasmania is the equivalent of a small town which would normally levy compulsory rates for services. The overseas students come to the University of Tasmania not just for the academic regimes but to learn about our community, and this is of great economic value to our State. They make great friends who talk about us when they return home.

University facilities are part of our wider community and it is vital for our community, for our children, to preserve them. High-cost, inefficient, user?pay facilities for a small university like ours could be the last straw for students who are already paying high fees for their courses. Students themselves value the sense of campus community that is engendered by the student associations and there are strong indications they are prepared to pay $264 a year for full?time students to preserve those structures that help them non?academically. Those old political conflicts on campuses in the past, although they were training grounds for many of our present politicians, are long gone and so are the arguments behind the Federal Government's proposed bill.

Mr President, there is always room for compromise. Let this Chamber promote compromise in the interests of Tasmania's university students now and into the future. I ask members to support the motion.

Motion agreed to.

Simon Wolarzuk, a student from Ulverstone, says:

'Imagine a campus where all non?academic services ceased to exist. The SA provides students with social activities - which are great for meeting new people, relaxing and developing vital social skills and networks in addition to study. I just cannot believe the government wants to devalue the entire university experience by pursuing this policy'.

And finally, Adrian, the sports officer on the student council - my son -

Mr Wilkinson - I was going to say you didn't mention his surname.

Mr FINCH - A vested interest. He says:

'Students may not realise when they are receiving a service provided by the SA' -

Mr PRESIDENT - Order. The level of audible discussion is too high. I would ask it to be lowered. The honourable member.

Mr FINCH - Thank you, Mr President.

'Students may not realise when they are receiving a service provided by the SA, but if they were informed they would prefer to pay the SA fees than not have the services. As a student I know that I have taken these services for granted in the past but since I have become involved in the SA I appreciate how it has made university a more relaxed and social atmosphere rather than just a purely academic experience'.

Mr Wilkinson - Did he write that?

Mr FINCH - He certainly did. I did not even get the quote from him, it came from the SA. Those quotes demonstrate how student associations help students to become part of a university community wherever they come from.

Mr President, some media commentators have suggested one of the motives for some Federal Liberal MPs' eagerness to abolish compulsory fees is that in the past student unions have been political training grounds. That may have been the case in the past. The Liberal Party well knows that two of their top political stars, Tony Abbott and Peter Costello, learned their debating craft on the campus in the 1970s which was seen as the golden era of student politics. That era of student activism that schooled those two potential future prime ministers has long gone. The days of the political conflicts where Labor and Liberal groups fought with Trotskyists and other radical elements are long gone. I suggest the political arguments against compulsory student unionism also have long disappeared.

I am not pursuing that argument here, but I am arguing the retention of compulsory fees for student services and amenities. What is wrong with university administrations controlling most of the compulsory student fees and using them for services and amenities so there is no chance of the money going to support political activity, whether it be from the left or from the right? I am sure that members who understand this argument, particularly from the point of view of students themselves, will support my motion. If you do you will be joining the Victorian Legislative Council, among other bodies.

[12.10 p.m.]
Mr PARKINSON (Wellington - Deputy Leader of the Government in the Council) - I rise to speak on this important motion. Mr President, it is worth noting at the outset that the Liberal Party Opposition in this State has been a vocal advocate in support of the abolition of compulsory student union fees and, presumably, therefore a vocal advocate of the consequences that would follow. This House would be aware that the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005 was introduced in the Federal Parliament earlier this year and was referred to the Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Legislation Committee - that is the Federal committee - for comment. The report from that committee is currently being debated in the Federal Parliament. It is also worth noting, Mr President, that a number of Commonwealth government members have publicly voiced their concerns about the amendment.

I cannot let the opportunity pass to say something about the newly elected Senator Barnaby Joyce and his threat to block the abolition of compulsory student union fees. When the Commonwealth Government's own speak against their legislation then we do need to step back and consider what the amendments will mean for our students. The Government supports the retention of compulsory general student services and amenities fees. The Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005 will prevent universities from requiring a student to become a member of a student body or pay a charge for services or amenities unless the student wishes to pay. If a university were to ignore this requirement under the bill, that university would be penalised $100 per student.

Mr President, the bill will put at risk a range of student services. At the University of Tasmania the services currently supported, at least in part, by student services fees include student accommodation, food services, sporting facilities, student lounges, concerts, international student services, student employment, campus radio, welfare services, sporting clubs, interest clubs and societies, bookshops and retail outlets, legal services and academic advice and advocacy. These services, Mr President, are integral support systems for our tertiary students.

The impact of the bill will therefore be significant in regional centres in particular, where university facilities and activities make a critical contribution to their communities. Currently, the services amenities charge at the University of Tasmania, as the honourable member has indicated, is less than $300 per annum. It is worth noting at this point as well, Mr President, the compromise position that has been put up by the Federal Labor Opposition which, in order to bring about some sanity in this debate and to bring about a reasonable solution, is supporting a proposition that membership of the student union bodies themselves would be voluntary but that the payment of the amenities fee itself would remain compulsory.

Mr Harriss - It didn't bring too much sanity and unity to the party itself, though. Macklin got her fingers smacked over that.

Mr PARKINSON - That would solve the problem, obviously, because what this is all about is the payment of the fee that supports all these services which are of benefit to the entire student body.

I would like to read into Hansard in part a letter that I had published in the Mercury on 14 May 2005 where I saw fit to congratulate one of the university students who had a letter printed on 5 May 2005 in the Mercury and the letter, after congratulating the student, proceeds:

'If only long-time advocate of "voluntary fees", Senator Eric Abetz, and his Liberal Party mates could understand what their policy means for the majority of students.

I am sure they would think again.

There is no room in this debate for extreme views. As those charged with the administration of universities know, the student body needs a diverse range of services which are in the main provided (or heavily subsidised) by student union fees.

Services such as counselling, accommodation, refectory (meals), child care, bookshops, uni bar and debating (and a range of other clubs and societies) all contribute to university life and personal development.

Unless all students contribute, many of these services will either not exist or will be priced above the means of the average student.

Not everybody drives a car, but we all pay the taxes that build the roads. So too for all the other services we may or may not use. Student unionism is all about clubs, societies and welfare activities, all for the mutual benefit of students in general, and ultimately for society as a whole.

Hopefully there will be enough fair?minded Liberals who will cross the Senate floor on this issue.'

I support the motion.

[12.16 p.m.]
Mr HALL (Rowallan) - Mr President, I would like to acknowledge the honourable member for Rosevears for his very comprehensive delivery this morning and what I want to put forward is just a few very brief points. I am not entirely sure what the Australian Government's policy is on this at the moment. It seems to be a little bit fluid at this stage and I am not entirely sure what the Federal Opposition's viewpoint is either.

Mr Aird - No, it's very clear.

Mr HALL - It is very clear, is it? Tell me.

Mr Aird - Very clear. If we had some sway in the Senate, we would be holding onto our position and supporting compulsory student unions but as a tactic we have said we would pass on compulsory unionism but support the compulsory services levy, or whatever you want to call it, being implemented to provide the services that are provided by student associations or unions.

Mr Harriss - Where did you get that information from?

Mr PRESIDENT - Order. There should not be discussion across the Chamber.

Mr HALL - The honourable Leader has provided some information, Mr President, and I accept that. From what I have read in the press I was still a bit confused but he has provided that information.

Just briefly I would like to make the following points. The first point is that it would appear the student union fees are the only component of a student's enrolment that cannot be paid as a HECS contribution and therefore a student can defer their university course fees but the student union wants their money up front without delay.

Of course that can be a real issue to a person who is in a very parlous financial state, and there was a case cited recently. I am not sure whether this is the normal course, but a lady who was doing a nursing degree at a Sydney university, upon enrolling was asked for a $300 student union fee. When she objected due to lack of money, she was told that she would not get her exam results or be able to do her clinical training. That to me, Mr President, would seem to be a nonsense because how can a student union dictate to a university?

Mr Wilkinson - That is if you don't pay your amenity fee I think it is down here. If you don't pay your amenity fee, you don't get your results but you are still able to be exempt from paying this 'union' fee but you have to make application.

Mr Aird - That's right.

Mr HALL - What about the union? Can you get an exemption from paying the union fee?

Mr Wilkinson - You have to make application to do that.

Mr HALL - Okay. Thank you. It is marvellous how all this information is now starting to flow, Mr President.

Mr Aird - We don't want to reflect upon your research capabilities but it has been available for some time.

Mr HALL - What I am saying is that I am from the country and -

Members laughing.

Mr HALL - In regard to the service and amenities fee, Mr President, I suppose you could argue that if you wished to play a particular sport, for example, and you were outside the university system then you will pay an affiliation fee to that particular organisation. For a student to play in that same competition then you might - and there have been some cases cited - only pay half the amount of somebody outside because you are effectively subsidised by all those other university fee payers who do not participate themselves. There appears to be a fair bit of cross-subsidisation and the question is: is there then equity for those who just want to study and get a degree, for example, but do not wish to go down the path of participating in other activities?

I also understand - and I also have to say very understandably - university vice-chancellors are opposed to this present Australian government initiative. At the moment there is some $160 million worth of up-front money coming into universities in the form of these amenities fees. I suppose the real questions are: what are they really offering? Why do they offer it? What is the value to the students? Lastly, should they give the students the choice as to whether they will purchase these services themselves? What about all those mature-age students that we have in the university system now; what value are some of those amenities to those who do not wish to participate?

With that brief contribution, Mr President, I support the notion that the system ought to be voluntary. It appears that Australian students currently pay between $100 and up to $600 a year in union fees as a condition of enrolment. Those fees are unconnected to students' academic courses and are charged with no regard for their ability to pay. So at this stage I am in limbo as to whether I will support the motion or not.

[12.22 p.m.]
Ms RITCHIE (Pembroke) - Mr President, I rise to give my support to the motion ably put forward by the honourable member for Rosevears.

Mr Wilkinson - You're not going to belt the Liberal Government, are you?

Ms RITCHIE - No, wait and see. You might like it. Probably yes, actually.

Members laughing.

Ms RITCHIE - As we all know, the Federal Government is seeking to pass legislation that has two significant parts: first, to prevent any higher education provider, primarily our universities which are receiving Commonwealth support under the Higher Education Support Act, from making membership of student organisations a condition of enrolment; second, the bill prevents higher education providers from making a condition of enrolment the payment of any fee for the provision to students of an amenity, facility or service that is not academic in nature. The bill also inserts some fairly significant penalties for any provider that fails to comply.

Mr President, in relation to the contacts and discussions I have had with many people in my electorate and other parts of the State about this issue, I have only struck one person who agrees with eradicating compulsory student unionism. I think that was based on a broader basis of unions in totality, so I do not think they actually understood the broader issue about student unions. I think there are very few people who would agree with what the Federal Government is trying to implement with scrapping the compulsory student unionism and the services that flow from the collection of student union fees. I think it is important to note that it is not just students who are voicing their opposition to these moves. This is an issue that has caused waves of concern from diverse sectors of our community and indeed all those people who understand the importance of retaining services to university students. Interestingly, it is an issue that has reached the lofty heights of Hollywood movie actors and noted sports people. People like Cate Blanchett, Stuart MacGill and Liz Ellis are all doing their bit to support the retention of university union fees.

I think we have to ask ourselves the question: why does the Federal Government want to insist on proceeding with an agenda that is seemingly impervious to the resounding voices of opposition? Is it because of a burning desire to assist students, their families and the universities around the nation? Somehow I do not think so. We initially heard the Federal Education minister claiming it was about the principle of choice. In a press release put out by Dr Brendan Nelson on 16 March this year, he says:
'From 2006, no student will be forced to join a student organisation, union or guild or pay a fee to an institution for non?academic amenities, facilities or services. This is the 21st century. Union membership should voluntary and services should not be propped up by compulsory appropriation of students' hard earned money.'

We also heard the minister refer to this issue as one of an article of faith and about a longstanding philosophical belief. So it is interesting, honourable members, that this minister has rejected the proposal put forward by the Federal Labor Party.

We all know that Federal Labor has been working hard to come to some sort of resolution that would salvage the majority of student services that we believe are currently under threat. Labor has put forward a compromise, Labor has put forward a proposal that, while not necessarily our ideal position, is an attempt to address the Federal minister's claim that he is concerned about forced unionism. Labor has said that it would support a situation where membership of student organisations will be optional but that Labor believes in retaining an amenities fee that the universities could collect and administer.

This represents a bid by Labor to prevent the collapse of student services. You would think that this would address the concerns raised by the Federal Liberals. You would think that surely this would satisfy what the Liberals claimed was the fundamental principle here but, alas, Labor agrees to provide choice about student unionism and it is still not enough.

Clearly the Federal Liberals are about nothing more than obliterating the vital campus services for the uni students that need them the most. Clearly, they do not want to support those students who face the greatest challenges in trying to further their educational and life outcomes in the face of the greatest difficulty.

The Federal Government is not indicating it will increase funding to universities commensurate with the loss of revenue that student organisations will face if this bill goes through. Instead they have even tried to tell us that this legislation would see student services thrive. I would like to read to the House what Jenny Macklin had to say about this claim in a speech that she gave to the Parliament earlier this year, and I will quote from the Hansard:

'Another example of the willingness of the Minister for Education, Science and Training to say and do anything to get publicity on this issue was when he glibly told Kerry O'Brien on the 7.30 Report:

Well, the experience in Western Australia, where voluntary student unionism like this was introduced in 1994, was that these services not only survived, in many cases they actually flourished.

What an extraordinary statement!

The Western Australian experience shows that the minister is certainly not averse to using what can only be described as Orwellian language, which we have come to expect especially from him. Student representation and services were decimated under this type of legislation in Western Australia, and student services were lost. They only look at the facts. The legislation damaged services at all Western Australian universities. Edith Cowan University Guild went into liquidation and closed all of its services. Murdoch University Guild was in such a bad financial position that its auditors could not sign off on its accounts and it survived on loans from the university. At Curtin they survived, but only after shedding most representation, welfare and social services. Flourishing, I don't think.'

Ms Thorp - Hear, hear.

Ms RITCHIE - Mr President, they are very important words from Jenny Macklin but I think we will see a decline in support and we will see a decline in the conditions that universities have and they will, instead, have to survive on the same levels of government support.

Mr President, while I understand that many submissions were made to the Senate inquiry that this broad number of services will be affected, on the University of Tasmania web site the student services and supports listed include assistance with study, counselling, disability support, careers and employment, student equity, child care, accommodation, health and wellbeing, religious support and student finances, just to name a few. I suspect that any number of these services will be under threat if the Federal Government's legislation is passed because of a sad lack of ability to separate a hate of unionism from the provision of student services.

Mr President, I again commend the honourable member for Rosevears for bringing this motion to the House, and I wish my Federal Labor colleagues and other members of the Federal Parliament well in their fight against this legislation because they are concerns that are very real and represent a lack of long?term commitment to the provision of effective student services, particularly to those students that need the most, and particularly to those students in regional universities. I commend the motion to the Council.