Undoing Howard’s meanest legacy

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When the Howard government introduced ‘voluntary student unionism’ they brought a new definition to the term political bastardry. By destroying student unions they took away something, as university graduates, they had all enjoyed. Something integral to the university experience. They destroyed the bodies which provided essential services like campus childcare, doctors, cheap food, sporting facilities and campus cultural events. They annihilated the whole lot because a tiny part of the money which went to student unions was going to the student’s democratically elected political representatives that tended to oppose the Howard government’s cuts to education. Rudd has to make reversing this mean spirited legacy his first priority. Here’s why…

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12 Responses to “Undoing Howard’s meanest legacy”

  1. Amy Bradney-George Says:

    Tim, thanks for writing on this. Do you mind me asking what the inspiration was for writing it now? I’m curious…

  2. Tim Says:

    Oh the NUS has come out and said Rudd should do something about it. They’re meeting with Macklin et al.

  3. Tim Says:

    LIVENEWS.com.au did a story on it last week.

  4. Tim Says:


  5. Amy Bradney-George Says:

    And all this time I’ve been wondering what Rudd would do without realising there was news on VSU. Thanks for the link, I really hope something changes soon. Although Rudd doesn’t seem too concerned with it right now.

  6. Tim Says:

    Yeah i know, it seems to have dropped off the radar – i think at the moment he’s more interested in proving his economic credentials.

  7. Tim Says:

    The economy has to be his number 1 priority (from an electoral point of view) and he has to set the tone for his first year – which will be the tone for his whole prime ministership – of fiscal responsibility.

  8. Tim Says:

    I was yakking the other day who someone who’d know. That’s the impression I got.

  9. Amy Bradney-George Says:

    And I can see why Rudd has to do that. But it’s a sad issue because now pretty much two years of people at uni don’t even know what a Student Union is/was, or what is could have done. I was hoping it would be addressed sooner because one of his sons is still at uni. Guess that was a bit optimistic.

  10. Tim Says:

    yeah, i know ;-(

  11. Ana Says:

    I’ve been at Uni long enough to see both the VSU and the lack thereof. And I have to say UOW has done a wonderful job of managing the change. Sure the funding to the student union was only $550 last year, but the uni introduced a VIP card system where students who bought membership got discounts on a huge amount of things across campus. The VIP system has reported greater income to the uni (which in turn is spent on the students by an overseeing board to provide items such as childcare, sports, doctors, cheap food, etc) than the VSU ever had, and in turn the uni is a more settled place free of extremely vocal and outspoken minorities that most people don’t give a toss about.

  12. Tim Says:

    Sorry Anna, sounds really interesting.

    what Uni was that? I’ll have to go and have a look. Where did the $550 from? – was that per student? The income when to the uni? Or to the student’s union? How much income more was it?

    love to hear more

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