Wellington, Aug 20 NZPA - Proposed legislation scrapping compulsory student unionism is "bizarre" as students are not bothered by the issue, New Zealand Union of Students' Associations co-president Jordon King says.
The Education (Freedom of Association) Members Bill, in the name of ACT MP Sir Roger Douglas, was drawn from the ballot today.
It was the "first step in liberating students from the flawed and out-dated law that forces them to join their local student association and steals their right to make their own decisions", Sir Roger said.
But Mr King said membership of student associations was not compulsory -- students could object to joining the associations on conscientious grounds, or could hold referendums to make membership voluntary, as happened at the University of Auckland, he said.
"We look at this bill as a far-out idea by Sir Roger, who wants to resurrect ancient history," he said.
"He seems to be out of touch with the needs of students, especially seeing as student unemployment is so high at the moment and fees are the highest they've ever been."
However, the bill was welcomed by ACT and National tertiary student groups -- ACT on Campus and the Young Nats.
"This is well overdue -- students remain the only group in society still forced to join a union," Young Nats president Alex Mitchell said.
ACT on Campus vice president Peter McCaffrey said the levies had been going to "radical left wing groups" and it was time it stopped.
"The local tennis or rugby club can't compel membership and instead relies on providing a good quality service that people want in order to attract members -- student associations should be no different," he said.
Member's bills get debated about twice a month when Parliament is sitting.