Monday, August 28, 2006

what is freedom of association?

Freedom of association is a fundamental civil and political right.

It's prescribed in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

Freedom of association has two elements.
1. You should be free to associate with whomsoever you wish for legal purposes.
2. You should not be forced to associate with others.

Compulsory membership of tertiary student associations violates clause number 2.

In New Zealand people who go to a tertiary institution to study are told they first have to associate with others. This takes the form of forcing people to join and fund an incorporated society, namely a tertiary student association.

There is no equivalent in New Zealand society. Hospital patients don't have to join a patients' society. Old age pensioners don't have to join Grey Power. Motorists don't have to join the Automobile Association. Warehouse customers don't have to join the Consumers' Institute.

True freedom of association would allow individual tertiary students to decide whether or not they join a student association.

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