The majority voted in favour of a motion to read the bill a third time. The bill allows universities to impose an annual capped compulsory student services and amenities fee.
This means that the bill has been passed in the Senate and, as it has already been passed in the House of Representatives, it will now be sent to the Governor General to be made into law.
Debate in Parliament
The bill was introduced into the Senate by Labor Party Senator Don Farrell during the last week of sitting in 2010.(See MP Farrell's motion here. ) However, it was not debated until the following September.
Liberal Party Senator Brett Mason said that the Coalition opposed the bill “because we do not believe that students should be forced to pay for services that they would not or cannot use”.(Read MP Mason's contribution here. )
Labor Party Senator Carol Brown, the Deputy Government Whip in the Senate, argued that the bill “will restore resources for representation and advocacy as well as vital services and amenities”.(Read MP Brown's contribution here. )
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.