The hypocrisy of GetUp!

When it comes to political parties, activist group GetUp! favours strictly regulating donations. Its principles include:

* Only individuals should be allowed to donate to political parties.
* Increase transparency requirements.
* Cap individual donations at a reasonable limit [they suggest $1,000 a year]

But when it comes to donations to GetUp! things seem to be rather different, as the SMH reported yesterday:

The union movement has emerged as a key financial backer of the advocacy group GetUp!, with six unions pouring more than a million dollars into its election purse in the past three weeks alone.

GetUp! has splashed nearly $1.5 million on TV advertising since the campaign began, meaning the unions have effectively supplied two-thirds of its advertising budget.

The organisation’s director, Simon Sheikh, refused to name the six unions yesterday, saying they wanted their identities kept secret until after donor returns are filed with the Australian Electoral Commission.

So this arrangement breaches all of GetUp!’s three principles: Continue reading “The hypocrisy of GetUp!”

What now for higher education policy?

What might a hung parliament mean for higher education policy?

Even with a Liberal government, it is possible that a compulsory student amenities fee might return. A quick Google search this morning indicates that all three rural independents have supported such a fee in the past, though it may need ‘political’ funding to be quarantined (Labor’s policy specifically created a role for their comrades in the student unions). So it is possible that a revised bill that passed the new Labor-Green Senate post-1 July 2011 would also pass the House of Representatives.

If a Liberal government is formed, there are things that could be done by regulation – or lack thereof. Labor is promising a red-tape extravaganza with its so-called ‘compacts’ between the government and universities, its equity and participation funding, and an even more ill-conceived ‘performance’ funding program. All of these are based on departmental/ministerial discretion given force by legislative instruments.

The significance of these legislative instruments is that they are disallowable by either house of parliament. In the event of an equal vote the disallowance motion will be lost. So there is an asymmetry between legislation and guidelines: the government needs a majority to pass legislation, but it only needs a tie to defend its guidelines. Continue reading “What now for higher education policy?”