Friday, May 27, 2005

Law Revue

Went to see the Law Revue "Law Actually" last night. It was great.

The highlight had to be LSS President James Mason and Lectuer Grant Morris doing a Rocky Horror Picture Show piece - classic!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

An Announcement

Not that most of you care, but:

I have no intention of seeking a second term as VUWSA President.

This leaves the door open for other possible candidates...

Keith Ng on the Budget

Keith (at Poll Dancer) has a really good piece on the budget (if you can get past the *fucking job* that jumps out at you...).

Monday, May 23, 2005

President's Column - Big Huge Ups

I would like to use this week’s President’s Column to say something to all those students and staff who marched on Parliament last Tuesday.


Students and staff united, opposing fee increases, allowance ineligibility, and low staff pay. The turn out was awesome. It was, by far, the biggest student protest at Victoria this century. There are a number of people that deserve thanks.

First and foremost, those that put in the hard yards before, with lecture speaking, leafleting and the like: Andrew Kirton, Camilla Belich, Karen Price and Lisa Woods from the New Zealand University Students’ Association, Michael Gilchrist and David Weatherburn of the Association of University Staff, Mary-Jane Waru from Ngai Tauira, Cormack Denton from the Commerce Students Assocaition, and James Mason from the Law Students’ Society.

Chris Knox for playing in the Quad beforehand, and Joel Cosgrove for organising Chris to play.

Those clubs and Rep Groups that helped drum up support: Vic Greens, the Fijian Students’ Association, Campus Left, the Geology Society, and Vic Rowing, to name but a few.

People from other Associations and Unions who showed up on the day: Students’ Associations from Massey University (Palmerston North and Wellington), Whitirea, and WelTech, as well as FinSec, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, and the Public Service Association.

And, most of all, all those Vic students and staff that showed up on the day. It wouldn’t have been a success without you all.It was a huge effort. No one let the weather or the proximity of exams get in their way. estimated there were as many as 1,000 people there, but I think the true number rests at somewhere around 650.

It doesn’t end here, though. This is an election year, and we have to let the Government know that we will not rest until fees have stopped rising, the number of students receiving an allowance is going up, and staff are being paid a decent wage.

Later this year, student debt will hit $8 billion. This is yet another example of the Government not following through on their promise to make tertiary education more affordable. We will be protesting this again, closer to the date (which is currently undisclosed). Students and staff have to unite again and make this as big an event as, if not bigger than, last Tuesday.

In the mean time, congratulations to all those that graduated last week. I was immensely proud to sit on stage and clap for all 1,500 graduates in the five ceremonies.

Also, all the very best with your exams. If you’ve put in the hard yards, you’ll surely come out on top. If you haven’t, I hope you’re lucky.

Have a good holiday, and I look forward to seeing you all back here for Re-Orientation in July.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Dons 1, John Hood 0

Former University of Auckland Vice Chancellor, John Hood has been beaten down by the Dons at Oxford, after proposing a number of radical changes, including amalgamating the world famous libraries, centralizing the authority of the University's colleges, and assessing the work output of the Dons. The proposals were lost 351 votes to 153 votes in Oxford's Congregation.

At the same time, Auckland Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon faces legal action by the Association of University Staff.

I can confidently report that Pat Walsh has done very little to upset anyone at Victoria yet...

Quote from Blumsky

In this week's Western News (local community newspaper):
"... Philosophically, there is little difference between National and United Future"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Tuesday 17 May, leaving the Kelburn Quad at 12:30.

Protesting for an end to fee increases, greater access to student allowances, and a pay increase for University staff.

Chris Knox will be playing in the Quad from 12 noon.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Nat's Key Seats

The Dom (via David Farrar) has an article regarding National's target seats in the South Island. It lists Invercargill, Otago, and, interestingly, Aoraki. I've never given the later of these much thought (although I picked Invercargill and Otago here).

Aoraki is a strange target; despite the fact it's a rural seat, the vast majority of the electorate live in Timaru - the demographics of which put it well within Labour's territory. I would say the Nats have more chance lifting Wellington Central, than Aoraki.

However, you can't under estimate an angry electorate, I guess...

President's Column - The squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

Last week I was rallying support for next week’s protest in the Quad, and Michael Gilchrist (organizer for the Association of University Staff) used the alliteration “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” to describe conflicting issues in an election year. Those causes which are the most vocal and best organized are the causes which influence what parties put in their manifestos, and who voters vote for on election day (whenever that might be).

This is particularly the case for student issues. Students are viewed by politicians and the general public as apathetic; a group that are either too busy or too lazy to care. This could be a determining factor in explaining why students have been effectively ignored by the government for so long. Other than a few small advances (thanks for the letter, Jim), students are in no better position now than they were ten years ago.

It is time to change this, and the time is next Tuesday. VUWSA (in conjunction with the Association of University Staff) will be marching from the Kelburn Quad and Bunny Street to Parliament. This is the beginning of VUWSA’s election campaign, and coincidently falls two days before Dr Cullen delivers the 2005 Government Budget. Our message to the Government is that students and staff are not going to stand for an under-funded Tertiary Education system any longer. More specifically, this can be broken into two categories that affect all students.

The first of these is an end to fee increases. Labour pledged in 1999 to make tertiary education more affordable. Despite this, in 2003 Steve Maharey (then Minister of Tertiary Education) announced a system of “fee maxima”. This allowed institutions to raise fees to a set level – at Victoria this resulted in a 3% and 4.5% fee increase in 3004 and 2005 respectively. According to NZUSA research, as much as 60% (or $4.4 billion) of student debt is from fees. The fact that institutions have been able to raise fees shows that the Government is not concerned with fixing this generational debt.

The second category is a decent pay increase for university staff. If you don’t think staff pay affects students, think again. New Zealand academics are amongst the lowest paid in the OECD. Unless their pay is increased, the best and brightest academics, researchers and lecturers will head overseas where they will be paid more. This will deprive you (the student) of the best research and teaching, and degrade the academic quality of Victoria University, and, ultimately the degrees that you worked so hard to gain.

There is a perception that protesters are arrested and not allowed to leave the country (or deported). This couldn’t be further from the truth. New Zealand has a strong tradition of freedom of speech. As a nation we have taken to the streets over contentious issues such as the Vietnam War, the 1981 Springbok Tour, and the Civil Union Bill. Students have to uphold this tradition.

I strongly encourage you to come along to Tuesday’s protest. Classic kiwi muso Chris Knox will be playing in the Quad from 12 noon, and we will head to Parliament at about 12:30.

If you only take part in one political action while your at University, regardless of your political believes or allegiances, there will be no better opportunity than next Tuesday.

Come along and show the government that students aren’t going to take it any longer.

Monday, May 09, 2005

President's Column - The Good, The Bad, and the Politics

The 1999 General Election seems like a long time ago, but I remember it quite clearly. Shipley’s National Government was on the rocks following the implosion of New Zealand First, and a very-public falling out between Prime Minister Shipley, and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. It seemed certain that Labour were going to win, and that Jim Anderton’s Alliance Party would be supporting them. I remember this election as it was the first election I voted in. I had turned 18 only a few months earlier, and the day after my last bursary exam I trotted off to the Helensville Primary School hall and voted.

I was heading to the University of Auckland the next year to study law, and looked forward to the free education that the Alliance promised in their manifesto. Needless to say, I voted for Laila Haire (living in the Waitakere electorate), and the Alliance. Sure enough, days later, pictures of Jim Anderton and Helen Clark shaking hands (and thus forming a coalition) graced the front page of the New Zealand Herald. Students were saved from the strangle-hold of Max Bradford and his band of marry men.

Two things never came true: Firstly, despite a kick arse score in Graphics (top in my school, no less), I bombed out in Geography (mildly ironic?) and didn’t get a good enough bursary score to get into law – this drove me to write fucked up letters as a pseudonym to Salient. Secondly, the free education that the Alliance promised never eventuated.

Things started out on the right track for the Labour-Alliance coalition. On their much-heralded “pledge card”, Labour stated that they would make tertiary education more affordable. Tuition fees were frozen, so institutions couldn’t crank them up on a whim. Interest was not charged on student loans for all students while they were studying. All this happened before I had my first lecture four months after the election, so it would be fair to say it was a high priority.

However, after an initial spurt of action, nothing else really happened. There were rumours of a universal allowance (of some sort), and the abolition of fees in favour of a graduate tax (which I’m in two minds about), but nothing ever came of it. In the 2003 budget, a “fee maxima” scheme was announced. This meant that most institutions were able to raise their fees within a certain range, to allow for “correction” of fee levels. Admittedly, this was not as bad as the free-for-all free increases of the 1990’s, but it was still against Labour’s 1999 pledge. Even this turned out to be a little bit of a joke really, as all applications to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) for an increase above the maxima were approved, including 10% fee increases for medical students at Auckland and Otago.

Even things which the government are proclaiming victories for students are turning sour. Last year, there was the much-publicized raising of the parental income threshold for students on allowances. Even NZUSA put out a press release in support of this (and they’re hard to please). It turned out that this was at the expense of almost all students who were on independent circumstances. And now it turns out that 23% less students claimed the student allowance in the first quarter of 2005 compared to the first quarter of 2004 (hat tip to Keith Ng – nice way to make yourself famous).

Why should you care? The generation that is currently in Parliament (with a few exceptions) all got an education for free – including the Prime Minister, the Minister of Education and most of Cabinet.

This election, student have got to unite and show the politicians that we are not going to stand for this sort of treatment any more. There are 200,000 students in New Zealand (give or take) – that’s enough to put any party in power. Hell, if we all voted for the Natural Law Party, we’d have a Prime Minister who believed that New Zealand’s energy problems could be cured by the untapped power of rainbows…

This starts next Tuesday. Just before everyone (well, everyone that’s completed their degrees) graduates, and two days before Dr Cullen announces his budget, students will be marching from the Kelburn Quad to Parliament. We will be presenting a list of demands, including a stop to fee increases, and more funding for the tertiary sector. Chris Knox is going to be playing in the quad before hand, and we’ll have a sausage sizzle and all that jazz from around 12pm onwards.

If you only come on one protest while you’re at University, I would recommend you come in this one. The more people we get, the more seriously we are taken, and the better deal students get.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Moving "Up" in the World...

Kate from About Town has posted about the University of Auckland Dean of Law (presumably) being poached by Oxford (and former Auckland) Vice Chancellor John Hood.

Interestingly, Auckland VC Stuart McCutcheon has poached Victoria University Director of Facilities Management, Peter Fehl (say that fast, and, well, you get it I'm sure). Fehl claims he applied for the job before McCutcheon announced his move, but we all know the truth.

If AUSA was worried about their Union Building with McCutcheon, then they should be petrified with Fehl. The two of them are as thick as thieves...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Gay Marriage in Springfield

After finding out that the gay marriage episode of the Simpsons (episode 1610) was going to be on last night, I made sure I would be home in time to see it (even if this meant walking home in the rain).

A little bit of a let down, as I knew it was Patty that was going to get married, but it didn't actually happen in the end.

It would have been so much better if it had been Lenny and Karl...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

abbey road
Abbey Road

Which Beatles Album Are You?
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Debate on Student Allowance Numbers

Apparently, there's going to be a debate on student allowance numbers in Parliament this afternoon. This is along the lines of Kieth's post on Poll Dancer and his Salient article.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Political Poetry Entry 2

The Real Key to Political Success! By Matt McGrath

Some have said that success in this game,
Is due to certain elements of political fame,

Things like beauty, and cunning and smarts,
And qualifications beyond a Bachelor of Arts,

Prime Minister Lange got by on his wit,
While John Tamihere acts like a twit,

But for fame there can be no substitute to
Having a somebody who looks just like you,

Clem Simich seems like one of a kind
But take a look closer and soon you will find,
He doesn’t get by on political will
He only gets by cos he’s like Dr Phil,

Rod Donald may seem pretty and handsome
But he stole that whole look from Dr Johnasson,

Mr Hide is a member who is nasty and loud,
He barracks, and scoffs and he laughs out aloud
Some say he gets attention cos he’s a buffoon
But I say its cos he’s a taller Muldoon,

Mr Tony Ryall has funny shaped ears
Most people can’t help but laugh when he sneers
So where did he get this look that could kill
He borrowed it from our wee friend Blinky Bill,

But Tony’s not alone to this end
Our venerable leader has an animated friend
Just put on some ears, and its really quite funny
Dr Don Brash is what’s up with Bugs Bunny!

I’ve come near the end now, but something’s not right,
I can not have finished, not now, well not quite!
There’s just one more face that one could never forget
And you’re all scared to death of this face, I bet

Its one that original - no, its never been done,
But you can’t look straight at it, it’s a bit like the sun,

This personality is a sight for sore eyes,
A face whose popularity is quite a surprise,

A face that can be both frightening and sinister,
The face of our Right Honourable Prime-Minister.

No time to post

Been tied up with other stuff at the moment - Uni Games last week, and university council today. Will post something later on this week.
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