BIG NEWS

Thursday, July 07, 2011

VSM bill won't be passed before the election

Students will continue to get freedom to choose – at least when they enrol this year for summer school and early next year - whether to opt out of student association membership or remain members (as opposed to having to decide whether to join) as it looks like the VSM bill, which would make student association membership voluntary, will not be passed before the election in November.

Act MP Heather Roy, who is to quit parliament at the election, looks like she’s been filibustered. Filibustering is when lots of speeches are made in parliament on a bill for a great length of time to delay passage of dodgy legislation. Like the VSM bill.

Phil Goff has said Labour will filibuster right up to the election if it has to.

Today was Members Day. As Roy’s bill is a members bill, it can only be debated every second Wednesday, which is Members Day. Tonight after parliament finished, Heather Roy – who was on House duty for her party so had to be in the House for Members Day - drowned her filibustering sorrows by listening to Radio One – a station owned by Otago University Students’ Association, under threat because of her bill.

Because the government refuses to adopt Roy’s bill, it is a Members bill. However there is a bill called the Royal Society Amendment Bill which is taking up a lot of time. This bill has 21 clauses and they are up to clause 11. Each clause can be debated for an hour – so that’s around 10 more hours to be debated before the third reading, which itself would take a couple of hours - and then there are two more local bills due back from committee to take precedence on the Order Paper.

Yet time will run out as there is not enough hours of Members Day time before the election even if the Government doesn’t take urgency.

The bill won't go away - it can be picked up by another member after the election. Labour is hoping that it will have less support after the election. Meanwhile, a bill that amends the Royal Society of New Zealand Act 1997, by incorporating the humanities into the objects and functions of the Society; changing the name of the Academy Council to the Academy Executive Committee; amending the standard for the election of Companions of the Society; and amending the election process for Councillors of the Society ( ok, that`ll do), has been very good for students.

Given that the bill may not be passed before it commencement date of 1 January 2012, or when students enrol for 2012, perhaps it is time for Heather Roy to pull the bill so that other bills can be debated and passed on Members Days. After all, it costs $450,000 an hour to run Parliament and pulling the bill would only assist in passing legislation, thus using the time more effectively. Makes sense, really.

However, the current filibustering is a much more effective use of time than passing the VSM legislation that nobody except a handful of politicians and their rag-tag bunch of supporters want. Nearly all of these supporters won’t even be attending university from 2012.

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