Liberals believe in user pays. Or at least, they used to. Maybe they do some of the time. But that unequalled political harlot Brendan Nelson seems to have trouble getting his head around the notion.

Student unions are not trade unions, no matter what Dr Brendan and his colleagues think. They are more like the local club – you pay your fees and you get benefits and access to facilities. Or were.

Let’s go back to Dr Brendan’s press release from Monday on the VSU arrangements:

Following the historic passing of the Higher Education Support Amendment (Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005 last Friday, the Australian Government is committed to a range of initiatives to further assist universities’ transition to facilitate its implementation. These include $80 million over three years for a transition fund for maintenance and construction of sporting and recreation facilities…

Now, instead of students paying for the services they use, taxpayers will be expected to provide subsidies. Natasha must be delighted.