I have written my thoughts about VSU a number of times before on my old blog – click here and here for examples – so I won’t repeat them. It seemed almost certain at the start of the day that it wouldn’t pass through the Senate this year – at least not without significant amendment, yet by 5pm the most extreme version of VSU imaginable had been passed by the Senate without any change at all!
It’s another reminder that you can never take anything for granted. A filibuster, followed by a guillotine, combined with a few gags, all laid over the top of what one has to presume is a yet to be disclosed deal with the Family First Senator, and Hey Presto!! – Student Guilds, Associations and Unions throughout the country will spend the weekend looking at how many staff to lay off and when and what services they will have to cut. When I visited the Student Association in Toowoomba last July, they said under their governance structure, they would almost certainly have to close down if the VSU legislation passed unamended, or else face the risk of being charged with operating insolvently. Given these sorts of things did happen in WA when the Court Liberal Government did a similar thing some years ago, it seems fair to assume this is genuine. Whatever Steve Fielding has agreed to, it will need to be a pretty good package to stop this sort of thing happening very quickly.
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