Labour minister supports freedom of association

Published: Wed 19 Mar 2008 09:49 AM
Finally, a Labour minister supports freedom of association
Media release: Student Choice, 19 March 2008
Voluntary membership lobbyists Student Choice are congratulating Clayton Cosgrove after he demonstrated his support for freedom of association and hopes he will now persuade his colleagues why compulsory membership of tertiary student associations is wrong.
Speaking on Morning Report last week about a bill to reform the real estate profession, Mr Cosgrove defended plans to make membership of the Real Estate Institute voluntary by arguing in favour of voluntary membership and freedom of association.
Mr Cosgrove said, "We haven't had compulsory unionism for 20 years.  Why should I as a politician tell you or anybody else what you should belong to?....If you want to join the footy club, the workingmen's club, the institute - go for it. It's your choice and you should have that right."
It's great that Mr Cosgrove understands the importance of freedom of association and voluntary membership and recognises that politicians shouldn't be telling any New Zealanders they should have to join any organisation.
We hope Mr Cosgrove will turn his attention to New Zealand's tertiary institutions where over 200,000 tertiary students are forced to join compulsory student associations as a result of the Education Act.  New Zealanders cannot study unless they join and pay money to compulsory student associations.  Compulsory student associations take over $20 million a year from New Zealand students.
If Mr Cosgrove looks at the tertiary student associations he'd see gross political misrepresentation, widespread waste, inefficiency and fraud - all caused by compulsory membership.
Unfortunately many of Mr Cosgrove's colleagues are prepared to tolerate the violation of students' right to freedom of association because of the benefits compulsory membership delivers to the Labour Party.
We encourage Mr Cosgrove to extend his support of voluntary membership to New Zealand's tertiary institutions.

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