Anti-VSU message flies

Kerces 14 February 2006 18

Today saw another anti-VSU (that’s voluntary student unionism for any rock-dwellers) protest, this time at Parliament House.

There were maybe 50 students there from both ANU and UC as well as a few Sydney unis (but I’m not yet good at judging numbers so it may have been more), a handful of media and quite a few people in suits, some of whom I recognised as politicians.

I found out about this protest yesterday and was told “the action will involve handing out (and eating) little cakes with the STOP VSU slogan on them,” but it turned out the main stunt was actually the launching of the below banner. It was actually pretty impressive looking and very colourful.

Anti-VSU protest

After the banner finally made its way into the air (tethered by two poor volunteers), the speeches began and I actually stayed and listened this time. Maybe because they’d given me cake (I overheard Bob McMullan telling someone that this was his kind of protest — “Eat cake for the revolution,” he said). Representatives of various student groups talked, but the media really got interested when Opposition education spokesperson Jenny Macklin started talking. I did have several pictures of her talking, but liked this one much better.

Labor MP Jenny Macklin

Those little red things on the cakes are “Stop VSU” sugar stickers. Interestingly, although the students had made the cakes and banners, those stickers that Ms Macklin and others are wearing were provided by her office.

Next Greens senator Kerry Nettle spoke. She didn’t make that much of an impression on me, but I’m sure her message was worthy.

Greens senator Kerry Nettle

Then was Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja. She showed off some postcards apparently recently launched by the Democrats (that’s what she’s holding in the photo). The idea is that students pick these up, write anti-VSU messages on them and post them (presumably postage paid) back to the Democrats who promise to table all the postcard-submissions during the legislation’s debate.

Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja

Ms Stott Despoja was the last official speaker, however most of the politicians were politely doing the rounds afterwards, including Labor ACT senator Kate Lundy, who chatted for a while with some ANU students.

Labor senator Kate Lundy

And a final note to any potential protestors out there: Thursday is a good day for protests since I have the day off. So if you’re planning a protest on a Thursday and let me know, I might just come along for some more picture-taking practice.

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18 Responses to Anti-VSU message flies
rhett rhett 3:30 am 09 Sep 05

I’m currently studying at QUT in Brisbane, and can’t wait for VSU to go through.

The net effect of VSU is simple. The unions will actually need to represent the students and provide value.

Honestly, there are no services they provide that are “essential”.

RE: Rural sport – why should everyone pay for a service only a few use?

I’m fed up of my union funds going towards union political agendas. Its time the unions worked for their money.

Maelinar Maelinar 3:15 pm 24 Aug 05

Unions beats ‘on the sheeps back’ as I had always heard.

But then that’s probably why Kiwi’s think Aussies telling jokes about sheep were so incredibly funny in that reverse psychology the joke’s really on you kind of way.

benett benett 3:04 pm 24 Aug 05

Australia was built on Unions. Let us not forget who we are as a nation. We are not America. We are aussies. Not Asians or Africans or Europeans.

Well I didn’t vote for John Howard. The people in sydney and melbourne did. Blame them. “John is a good man” you hear some new people to the country say…heh…good old john howard. love the guy…

thedoctor thedoctor 6:14 pm 19 Aug 05

It shits me the stuff they waste the union fees on. Just like it shits me that my taxes get spent on hospitals I don’t use, schools I don’t attend, wars I don’t support, and advertising for industrial relations laws that haven’t been drafted yet, but which I probably won’t support. If that is what people want to spend their money on, that’s fine – let them spend it, but leave my cash out of it.

RandomGit RandomGit 2:50 pm 19 Aug 05

I guess they went on leftie magazines and propping up the Union itself.


bonfire bonfire 1:33 pm 19 Aug 05

Im pro-union. Collective strength enhances any negotiating position, and protects the weaker less able members from abuse.

But i will always oppose compulsory anything.

The idiocy of the anti VSU campaign astounds me, you just have to listen to their media tarts on any media outlet. They always bag the coalition, then priase the opposition.

At no point have they approached a compromise position, which means that they lose everything.

When i was at uni i reckon i got three fifths of sweet FA from my compulsory fees, and it shitted me that unless they were paid you couldnt enrol.

Uni politics, apart from being pointless and parochial were also irrelevant. Now Im sure there were worthy causes my funds supported such as a bus to escort students to their cars at dark etc, but funding the SL particularly used to shit me.

I guess now that is voluntary a new era will emerge.

farewell leeches.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 1:29 pm 19 Aug 05

…or delusional….

Samuel Gordon-Stewart Samuel Gordon-Stewart 12:20 pm 19 Aug 05

Depends on who he was talking to…talking to people would make him almost anyone. Talking to his sleeve, on the other hand, would probably make him an ASIO/Protective Services/Pretending to be ASIO or Protective Services.

Kerces Kerces 11:09 am 19 Aug 05

I have this idea he might have been the one uni student that turned up in a suit (for unexplained reasons). But it is kinda hard to tell from that photo.

terubo terubo 10:52 am 19 Aug 05

Could it be the guy at bottom LHS of the first pic is actually a secret service agent?
-or just someone’s media advisor?

kimba kimba 10:51 am 19 Aug 05

This is just another political campaign by the great-unwashed! I like many of my friends got nothing in return for our Union fees. And I detested the fact that the Student Union would spend my/our money on political and social-engineering campaigns. Aren’t Kerry and Kate lovely creatures – where’s my bucket!

annie annie 10:00 am 19 Aug 05

I personally think VSU is a great idea. It might force student unions to become actually relevant to the people they’re supposed to represent.

But of course they won’t, because they’re mainly training grounds for more ‘serious’ politics later on in life, and they have no idea what the student experience is really like for most of the tertiary population.

Man, I’m so sick and tired of all these campaigns that completely miss the point: not just the VSU protests, but the marches against HECS as well, when really they should have been jumping up and down about the pathetic level of student assistance, and how lower-income families are being shut out of tertiary study because of the high cost of living. They had the perfect opportunity when all the talk about skill shortages was first going on, but NOOOO!

Anyway, back to VSU. I’ve studied in WA (where it has been in place for a while) and the sky hasn’t fallen in for them. You can still play sport, drink cheap alcohol, eat crap food at the student cafe etc etc. And you can put that couple of hundred dollars that would have gone to the union towards textbooks – and eating more than once a day.

bulldog bulldog 9:21 am 19 Aug 05

Can’t see the logic… Shoudn’t Unions be in place to stop bullying and protect the rights of individuals in an organisation? F*cking hypocrites.

IMHO Unions were a great idea before they started playing politics and when their primary concern was the individual.

Thumper Thumper 8:10 am 19 Aug 05

I used to always wonder what all my Union fees went towards when I never used any facilities on campus over 10 years at UC.

I guess they went on leftie magazines and propping up the Union itself.

Oh well, I reckon they should be non compulsory. Why the hell should you be part of something that you don’t know about, don’t want to know about, could give a toss about, and …

Well, you get the picture….

Geez, Kate is looking well fed these days…..

Maelinar Maelinar 7:31 am 19 Aug 05

Is it just me or is Natasha still the hottest chick in politics ?

I’m going to walk away now and go look for help.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart Samuel Gordon-Stewart 11:54 pm 18 Aug 05

I like the pictures, the nice colourful balloons and banner make the whole protest much more enjoyable (as would the cake….free cake and I wasn’t there?)
Jenny looks like she enjoys cake and was enjoying the protest in general.
Kerry looks like she is singing.
Natasha looks angry.
Kate looks like she is deep in thought.

I can’t say that I really have a valid opinion on this topic, I’m pro VSU, but I’m also an outsider who knows little-to-nothing of student unions (apart from the food at the ANU Union Refectory isn’t cheap, and you get a tiny discount at the asian self-serve resturant if you’re a member…I ate their most days for a week in April).

I hope they didn’t release the helium balloons later on, that might have upset the Greens senator which would have diminished their supporters.

johnboy johnboy 11:02 pm 18 Aug 05

The protest numbers would suggest a forlorn cause.

Lots of balloons though.

Vic Bitterman Vic Bitterman 10:28 pm 18 Aug 05

How typical. A greens/labor/democrats protest against free choice.

Good lord. “Stop VSU” these sheep all chant. Communist idology parties, all 3 of them. Never any individual choice, always the state chooses.

No wonder they poll so low all the time.

Voluntary student unionism all the way. You use it at uni, you pay for it.

Why the @#$% should my uni fees pay for lesbians/single mothers/stoners who want to join a select society that I cannot join, and who get cheap everything cos of my compulsory fees? Fuck em, the lot of them.

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