SHAMEFUL: Rudd to take money from struggling students to prop up failed student union bureaucrats on six figure salaries

liarsonunifees In a blatant breach of a very specific pre-election campaign promise, the Rudd Government will today announce a $250 million new tax on Australian university students.

The funds will be collected by Universities and mostly spent by failed student unions whose membership seemed to average around 10% of the total student body. Despite this record of failure, these student unions – typically mismanaged by left-wing mediocre bureaucrats in their fifties on six figures salaries (plus car) and six hour work-days – have been mostly kept going by University administrations since the Howard government banned compulsory student union fees.

But – not wanting to waste their taxpayer and privately sourced money – they’ve been a lot more restrictive in dishing out the loot than the days when they were soaking students for it. Because of those restrictions, the student unions and University bosses have been united in their loud demand to reinstitute their ability to tax students, who are among the lowest income earners in Australia.


Prior to the last federal election, then Education spokesman Stephen Smith made it clear there would be no such new tax, whether deferred or not via the HECS system, in any shape or form.

Back then, Smith emphasised that a Labor government would ensure funding was made available for student services from the Commonwealth not by taxing students:

LEWIS: Mr Smith, Labor opposed the introduction of voluntary student unionism. If elected, can you give a commitment now that Labor will reverse the introduction of VSU?
SMITH: No, we won’t. We’ve made it clear we will allow students to voluntarily organise themselves. We think the key thing is the sustaining of the various services, whether that’s been sport and recreation or counselling…
LEWIS: You opposed the issue when it went before the Parliament?
SMITH: And we don’t think there is an opportunity or a prospect of going back to where we started.
The key thing is making sure the services that have traditionally been sustained by the student groups are there for all students to enjoy into the future: childcare, sport and rec facilities and the like. That’s the responsibility of the National Government…
LEWIS: (inaudible)
SMITH: No, that’s the responsibility of the National Government and the universities to sustain those services. Those services are currently withering and dwindling on the vine. We will not allow that to occur.


After the idea was floated last year by the nearly insolvent National Union of Students – who want their members taxed to the tune of $250 million so that the nation’s many failed student unions can afford to pay them affiliation fees of a couple of million – Smith made it very clear at a doorstop that he was ruling out reconstituting these fees via the HECS system:

JOURNALIST: So on the funding side, have you canvassed, or are you contemplating some sort of loan or deferred payment?
SMITH: No, absolutely not. One thing I can absolutely rule out is that I am not considering a HECS style arrangement, particularly a compulsory HECS style arrangement.
I don’t know where that came from, that may have been a suggestion made by one of the interested parties to the journalist concerned. But I certainly do not have on my list an extension of HECS, either voluntary or compulsory, to fund these services. So I absolutely rule that out.

JOURNALIST: So what is on your list then?
SMITH: What is on my list is that I believe that these services should be provided either by the Universities, or by the Commonwealth or both.

Instead of honouring Labor’s commitment, the Youth Minister Kate Ellis has foreshadowed the government’s intention to announce a regressive, flat $250 tax on students regardless of their income, regardless of their actual use of student services, regardless of the course they’re doing, regardless of their likely future income. It could raise as much as $250 million per annum.

The government has set a $250 cap on it, which is widely expected to be adopted by practically all institutions, even those who’d previously charged less.

For most students, it will be added to the tax debt their HECS payment already creates. HECS is a worthwhile and legitimate scheme but adding to it in an very challenging environment where many graduates will struggle to obtain finance to buy homes or start businesses or anything else seems poor timing at the very least.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the policy and the obvious injustice of slugging some of the poorest people in the community with the bills for pampered and overpaid student union bureaucrats (many on six figure salaries), the policy is very clearly a blatant broken promise.

In these circumstances, the Senate would be well justified in blocking this measure until the government actually receives a mandate for it, if it is re-elected during the recession of 2010 after they’ve spent all of the other side’s surplus and then some.



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33 responses to “SHAMEFUL: Rudd to take money from struggling students to prop up failed student union bureaucrats on six figure salaries

  1. student


    Why should i be forced to pay for things i will never use…

  2. Mark Baker

    mmmmm pies

  3. Anon

    Rudd is a lying liar that lies.

    You are filth, Rudd.

  4. Anon

    As a student living on $5000 a year, I have found VSU a horrible thing to live with. The student organisation that supports students like me has been struggling. It has also weakened the campaigns for lowering the age of independence and for reducing barriers to education.

    Let’s just hope that the new regime won’t come at the cost of restricting students’ rights to free speech.

  5. tony

    well… the article is pretty biased… the Gov has clearly said that the 250 dollars will not involve the student union and will go directly towards the university for student services such as sport, clubs, social supports <– which used to be ran by student unions(who did a pretty poor job in my uni). compared to the HECs fee, i doubt 250 will make too much of a difference.

  6. Patriot

    I trust my university before I trust my union.

  7. Kate Smellis

    Good to see Labor looking out for their next generation of factional Labor hacks.

    Piggys at the trough. Oink Oink.

  8. Justin Simon

    tony: The money before VSU was introduced went through universities, too. Still ended up lining the pockets of grubby leftist parasites.

  9. Beccy

    I haven’t spoken to a single person that is happy about this.

    Socialists say that VSU removes choice… I say VSU *is* my choice.

  10. xyz

    This is disappointing to see. Taxing some of the lowest income earners in society just shows that Labor doesn’t want to look after the people who find in hard just to buy textbooks for the semester, finding it hard to get by on a week to week basis. The tax grab is just another reason why one shouldn’t vote Labor, they have always introduced the most unpopular of schemes. The funny thing is that a number of this age group probably voted for Kevin07 due to his election style, all caught up in the media circus that he created at the election. Just goes to show how dumb people can be!

  11. Jim

    I don’t support VSU from an ideological perspective, but I’m actually happy to see this proposal.

    When VSU was introduced, I supported it, and didn’t pay union fees when they became optional. But I’ve since come to realise that the policy had some real problems. The main problem was that union services could be used by anyone, member or not. Non-members could use the union-funded recreation areas and sit all day in the union cafeteria. I most certainly took advantage of this at first… and saw union fees as poor value because the services were free anyway.

    When I tripped over and broke my arm at University, I used the union-funded emergency medical services. It was then that I decided to join the union to pay my share (if only for the last semester of my degree).

    Services and facilities have declined at universities since the introduction of VSU, because nobody wants to pay for something that is free anyway. All attempts by the universities to make the system user-pays failed, because it’s impossible to put doorkeepers on every union common area, and they refused to turn away needy students just because they were non-members.

    I’m all for this, as long as the funds don’t end up being spent on left-wing political campaigns. There should be financial penalties for Universities who do that – make them refund the fees to the students if it happens.

  12. Anonymous

    Oh goody good good. Millions of dollars will now be collected from the poorest to be spent on the wealthy elite – well done Rudd you scumbag.

  13. Zoe Edwards

    Thank God. Those $26,000 payments don’t come cheap!

  14. Krudd

    caching bitches!

  15. Anon

    This money will be taken from struggling students and used to fund unnecessary “services” sports clubs, elite athletes, subsidised childcare for academics, boozy parties and political campaigns for fringe causes. They broke an election promise. Send emails and letters to Steve Fielding and Barnaby Joyce to block this apalling measure.

  16. Anon

    This has nothing to do with making student unionism compulsory again. This proposed fee simply reflects the reality that too many students have continued to utilise student services (many without even realising it), but have not been paying their fair share. It’s all well and good to bang on about how bad our campuses are, and how under-supported our ‘struggling students’ are, but the money has to come from somewhere. It’s simple: all university students must share the burden of providing these services that they ALL use in one way or another. To ensure unionism remains voluntary, simply ASK the students at enrolment if they want their fee directed to the student union or the university. If you have some kind of ideological beef against student unions, then don’t tick that box!

  17. Fowles is the devil

    I support compulsory student unionism

  18. Anonymous

    this is just fucked!!!!

    Paying for services most students dont even use in the first place

    If you want it, pay for it!!!
    If you don’t then you should not have to!!!


  20. Anonymous

    yeah but she is ssooo ssexxxyy

  21. Raff

    1. The notion that the proposal robs from students is silly, under the liberals HECS went up by 35%, that is thousands of dollars stolen without any benefit directly flowing to any student.

    2. The fees will fund student associations, they are the logical people to provide independent advocacy, though freedom of association is maintained (as in the old system), one can object to beig a member.

    3. The financial impost of a HECS based fee is minimal, we are talking about $1000 max for a four year degree, when thanks to the howard government and its success in destroying the political wing of the student movement, managed to create $100,000 degrees with little dissent. That’s not the Australia I want to live in.

    4. The cruelest part about VSU is that it is the richer students who end up subscribing and taking advantage of the community, that is the clubs and societies and the many contacts and opportunities of being part of the union that are just as valuable as the in class learning. This would reinstate ownership of these experiences with everyone, not just the middle class poetry elite of the north shore.

    5. At Sydney University last week I saw a Young Liberal try to scam a discount for their friend by passing their union card. Young Liberals are obviously scabs who hate the concept of shared experience and community and will do anything to save what is really a small amount of money for them without actually thinking about real students.

  22. Michelle

    I already pay union fees of $550 a year and attend uni externally. So I will never access internal uni facilites so why should I have to subsidise other students experiences? I will be thinking twice about encouraging my own children to attend university. what a rip off Mr Rudd.

  23. David

    “If you want it you pay for it”

    Let’s abolish public roads, schools, hospitals and toilets while we’re at it

    I never use public toilets and I;m sick of paying for them.

    You bunch of DOLTS

  24. Anon

    CSU is for morons.

  25. Mat Hilakari

    By giving just $250 per student, per year to the Monash Student Association, perhaps we can finally find a cure for halitosis.

  26. Anon

    1. It was a 25% increase.
    2. True Freedom of Association requires the option not to contribute financially to an organisation.
    3. $1000 extra on HECS isn’t much, but it’s entirely unnecessary when presently student associations are being pushed towards self sustainability with minimal loss of services. Further, the left never had any qualms about levying excessive financial burdens on students before, and I have no doubt they’re going to start asking for more and more money now that the dam’s been broken.
    4. What? You mean the poor students can’t afford $99 for an ACCESS card? How on earth were they supposed to afford the $600 fee they were being levied with before July 2006?
    5. I’ve seen students of all political pursuasions (in fact mostly apolitical) scam ACCESS discounts. However I’d dispute the veracity of any story involving two members of the Liberal Club given membership to a society requires an ACCESS card.

    Fuck CSU, fuck internet censorship, fuck 2am lockouts, fuck anti-annoyance legislation, fuck alcopop taxes and, most of all, fuck Labor. If this is a party “in touch” with what the youth of Australia want then everyone under the age of 25’s got some kind of severe Stockholm Syndrome.

  27. Pingback: Hey Government, Leave My Wallet Alone » Blog Archive » Sign The Petition!!!

  28. Anon Anonski

    The ‘university experience’ and class warfare arguments against VSU have always been disceptions. Lefties very often come from the toffy north shore for a start and they are the ones who want to soak up the ‘experience’ because mommy and daddy support them. Everyone else just wants to get their degree and get a job!

    Student associations are the LAST group that should be trusted to spend money on behalf of students. I think university elections rock, but who is pretending the outcome labor or lib has a beneficial outcome for students – dream on!

    But as someone famously said: ‘having said that, let me say this’, Kate Ellis is just so sexy!!!

  29. Cam

    Anon, you say ‘services that they ALL use in one way or another’

    Actually, there’s a lot of students out there who attend university with the sole purpose of completing their degree – NOT socialising, playing sport, drinking, eating, seeking medical attention or councilling, puting their kids in daycare, seeking legal help, joining debating or activist clubs, the list goes on. All of those services are made available in the private sector. And the great thing about VSU, is that the students who would like to take advantage of the above services through their university, can CHOOSE to do so.

    Why should the entire population of students (including mature age, external, international etc.) be forced to pay for services they won’t use?

    This is yet again another example of the Labor left trying to socialise what the market can do cheaper and more efficiently.

  30. Anon


    The bookshop at my campus is run by the student association. You’re right in one sense – the books they sell are available in the ‘private sector’ but they’re more expensive. So much for the divine free market and its all-mighty invisible hand/fist giving it to us “cheaper and more efficiently” at every turn.

    Ever bought a coffee on campus? Ever sat in the cafe while you drank it? Chances are those of us willing to fork out a little extra paid a few cents towards that chair you sat on, that table with the big fucking umbrella sticking out of it that you sat under, the cup you drank out of, and the land that cafe was built on. You have no idea where the funds come from to set-up these tiny (non-profitable) on-campus operations. So continue coasting along while the rest of us fill in the gaps for you free-riders. I just hope, for your sake, you wake up one day.

  31. kh

    To Mr Rudd who was voted in by these same students. Shame Shame Shame…I don’t use all of the uni stuff…unless the equipment required for my media course counts and don’t i pay for that in my course fee’s. If it means i don’t have to share the equipment with other students who use this equipment not enrolled in my course that IT don’t upgrade because they don’t like it. (which is the editing equipment)If that means i dont have to share this equipment with other cousres like the MAC computers i use for editing visual and audio which is slowed down by IT putting windows on a system that is already under presure. and if it means more computer labs for the other students who do not required to use these media based applications fair enough i’m happy to pay. But if this is for other facilites that i don’t use which on my campus is not provied for by the uni than get bent mr rudd.

  32. Reds are better in bed

    The greatest forms of democracy involve an element of compulsion and or central leadership. Ellis would have had this drummed if not “rammed” into her by those who had the misfortune of joining “Unity”.

  33. This policy is just wrong. Please protest this broken promise by signing the petition at Hey Government, Leave My Wallet Alone!

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