VSM struggling through prolonged Labour

The Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill failed to pass the committee of the whole stage in Parliament last Wednesday, as Labour party MPs used delaying tactics to prevent the bill from reaching its third reading.

Debate on the bill continued until Parliament ended its session at 10pm, with Labour successfully raising sufficient obstructions to again frustrate the bill’s passage through the legislative process. The obstructions tested the limits of Parliamentary discipline, with Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith, who does not control the committee of the whole stage, having to be called into the House twice to resolve disputes.
Since the Bill is a private members’ bill, Parliamentary rules dictate that it can only be debated on every second Wednesday that the House sits. Only three member’s days remain before November’s general election, with the next one scheduled for August 17th.
Likely to pass
However Labour’s determined effort is unlikely to earn student unions a reprieve until next year. ACT’s Heather Roy, who introduced the bill, told NewstalkZB that she was confident the members’ bill would make it through the House before the election, but stated that if it didn’t then there remained the option of National adopting the bill and pushing it through as a Government Bill.
National’s support of the bill was again slammed by NZUSA Co-President David Do, who stated in a press release that “National did not campaign on a platform to fundamentally alter students’ associations and the student experience at our universities and polytechnics. In fact, they are breaking a promise they made at the 2008 election, when they committed to the current law, which was passed when National was in government in the late 1990s.”
Public law expert Professor Andrew Geddis told Critic that the bill would be able to pass to its third reading immediately after the committee off the whole stage and Labour’s filibuster tactics were unlikely to be able to prevent the bill being passed this year. Filibuster tactics have a patchy democratic history, with one of the most famous being Strom Thurmond’s rambling 24-hour long speech to delay the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the American Senate.
OUSA’s reaction
The delay in the passage of the bill came as John Key visited Dunedin to open the Stadium and the refurbished Robertson Library (formerly the Bill Robertson Library) last Friday. OUSA President Logan Edgar attempted to infiltrate the National Party cocktail event held Thursday night by using his father’s National Party membership to RSVP to the event.

Edgar had planned to bring OUSA Welfare Officer Shonelle Eastwood to the event as his ‘plus one’. However his plans for a romantic evening of piña coladas and political confrontation were dashed after a staffer vetting the guest list realised who Edgar was, resulting in him being banned from attending.

However, Edgar organised a protest outside the opening of the library, spending much of Thursday informing students of the protest and mobilising supporters. Critic wrote this article whilst Edgar hailed students on a megaphone telling them to come to the protest at the “Bill Robson Library”. Critic duly informed Edgar that the library was in fact called the Robertson Library.

All in all it was an interesting week for Edgar, after he briefly posted the following message (since removed) on the Facebook page of Act MP Sir Roger Douglas: “Get fucked you dinosaur…just trying to give yourself a legacy because you know you’re getting too old. You should actually debate the Bill with Pete or Grant… you’d get torn to shreds. Cunt”.
The comment was featured in a post on right wing blogger David Farrar’s Kiwiblog. Edgar responded that he regretted the post, describing it as “not my finest hour, but it is hard to control yourself when you are so passionate about the students.” He added however that he couldn’t see why “a Spanish tennis player would care enough about this to make a blog. Shouldn’t he be practicing his serve or something?” Critic determined that Edgar had confused the blogger Farrar with the Spanish international tennis star David Ferrer, the current world number 6 and winner of the 2011 New Zealand Heineken Open.
The passage of VSM will dramatically reduce income to students’ associations around the country, and is likely to result in a substantial reduction in services offered by associations.

Posted 4:58am Thursday 11th August 2011 by Gregor Whyte.