The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the bill a second time.
This means that the majority of members agree with the main idea of the bill.
Someone who voted Aye supported the main idea of the bill, which was to allow universities to impose an annual capped compulsory student services and amenities fee. Since the majority voted Aye, the bill can now be discussed in greater detail. However, in this case, the members agreed to a motion to read the bill a third time without further division. This means that the bill was passed in the House of Representatives and will now be sent to the Senate for their consideration.
Debate in Parliament
The bill was introduced by Labor Party MP Peter Garrett, the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. He said that the bill “delivers on the government’s commitment to rebuild essential university student services and to also ensure that students have access to representation and advocacy on campus”.(Read MP Garrett's contribution here. )
Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker, speaking on behalf of the Coalition Opposition, opposed the bill. He said that making student union fees compulsory adds to the pressures facing regional students because the fee also applies to students who do not study on campus and so cannot access union services.(Read MP Hartsuyker's discussion here. ) He also argued that student unions and associations “will not be held accountable for how they choose to spend student money” because the fees are compulsorily acquired.
Background to the bill
Compulsory student union fees were abolished under then Prime Minister John Howard’s Coalition Government with the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Upfront Student Union Fees) Bill 2005. This meant that universities could no longer require students to pay a compulsory fee for facilities, amenities or services that were not of an academic nature.
The Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill 2010 is the third bill introduced by the Labor Government to re-introduce a compulsory student services and amenities fee since 2009. The first bill, the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities, and other Measures) Bill 2009, was defeated in the Senate.(See that division here.) The second, the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill 2009, lapsed at the end of the 42nd Parliament.