Despite the Orwellian double-speak of the compulsion touters, a majority finally appeared in Parliament to eliminate one of the most absurd authoritarian laws in the country - the one that demands that university students belong to and pay for a student union to represent them and provide services, whether or not they actually want it.
The critical central focus of the argument on this issue is one of whether rights reside in an individual or a collective. Indeed this argument is one of the last gasps of true Leninism in New Zealand politics. Some on the left argued that student unions are akin to "government" and that making them voluntary is akin to making tax voluntary.
When the Greens, or the Labour Party would talk about "what students want", they weren't talking about individuals, they were talking about the people who students have been forced to pay for, and forced to have represent them. Neither party, nor their philosophical comrades in the student unions could conceive that it was right for students to be represented, not by themselves making informed choices about whether or not to be represented at all, and if so, by whom, but by organisations that they were forced to belong to. It had the odour of the people's democracy approach of one-party states that there need only be one party which represents "the people", not any others, because as long as it represents "the people" and "the people" are forced to support it, then how could it do wrong.
Well human beings do not have collective brains, they do not have a "general will", they are individuals. They can make their own choices, and if most students do not want anything to do with a student union, then to demand them to belong and pay for it, is simply a form of petty authoritarianism.
Of course the true reason Labour and the Greens love the student unions is because they have been fertile, compulsorily funded training grounds for their junior politicians. As most students are more interested in studying and their own lives, they ignore student politics, so the ones who often have been involved have tended to be those from the left who find warmth, comfort and friendship among the like minded.
The left thinks student unions will disappear, which speaks volumes about how much confidence they have that students actually value them. When the heavy hand of state violence is taken away from students, the left is scared that they will run away from their comrades in the student unions. If a student union can present itself as a body that offers services, opportunities and representation that students want, they will join. If not, it will fail.
It is Labour, the Maori Party and the Greens who don't want their comrades to fail, who want people to be forced to pay for what they don't want or even hate. No longer will the "anti-ANZAC Day" appeasers of Nazism, communism and Islamism be able to claim they represent students.
As a footnote, some time ago I asked what National MPs would vote it and vote against it. I can't wait to find out who, if any National MPs disgraced themselves by being Leninists.