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 subsequently agreed to a motion to give the bill a third reading without division. This means that the bill was passed in the House of Representatives and can now be sent to the Senate for their consideration.
Debate in Parliament
The bill was introduced into the House of Representatives by Labor Party MP Richard Marles on behalf of Labor Party MP Kate Ellis, the Minister for Youth and Minister for Sport. Ellis MP said that that the bill delivers “our election commitment to rebuild essential student services and amenities on university campuses”.(Read MP Ellis' contribution here. )
Liberal Party MP Sophie Mirabella, the Shadow Minister for Youth, said that the bill takes choice away from students.(Read MP Mirabella's contribution here. ) She argued that students “should not be forced to pay for services or amenities they do not want and, in the case of over 130,000 external students, may never have the opportunity to use”.
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 2009 is the second bill introduced in 2009 by the Labor Government to re-introduce a compulsory student services and amenities fee. The first bill, the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities, and other Measures) Bill 2009, was defeated in the Senate in August 2009.(See that division here.)