Cowabunga! TMNT takes majority of Guild Council

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By Madura McCormack

The Murdoch Now Team, headed by Guy McDonald, has emerged as the overall winners of the 2015 Murdoch student elections.

This year marks the largest voter turnout since 2011, with 4113 votes across 15 ballots.

The new Guild Executive, which will take office from 1 December, will be headed by Guy McDonald as President and Andy Hunter as General Secretary.

“We ran with a positive policy platform for making university life here more engaging, fun and vibrant and I look forward to working to continue the great work of previous Presidents like Raeesah Khan and Roland Belford,” says McDonald, paying homage to his predecessors.

“Between our two active campaigns we’ve more than quadrupled the number of votes cast in the student elections. I think that’s a huge win in and of itself.”

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Guild President Guy McDonald. Source: Supplied

Brodie Skalko, from ACTION, will be the new Education Vice President. She won the position by 30 votes to oust Dean Wicken.

“She bucked the trend and won an executive spot despite her ticket not taking out the election majority. She is obviously hugely deserving and I look forward to working with her on council next year,” says Wicken, who will join council as External Representative.

Skalko says she is ‘gutted’ that Troy Treeby from ACTION has not been elected, calling him an ‘inspirational influence on council’ this year.

“I endeavour next year to fulfil my personal promise, which was also a priority of TMNT; to reboot Education Council,” she says.

Other elected members of the ACTION ticket are Sustainability Officer Lauren Hodson and Events Officer Rachel Davidson.

TMNT’s candidate for Events Officer was disqualified when polls opened because he is not a registered member of the Guild.

“Congratulations to the incoming council, regardless of the political differences I would hope that everyone can work together to do the right thing by students,” says Troy Treeby, who has been elected together with Guy McDonald as student representatives on Senate.

Out of the 9 ballots contested for Guild Council, 6 have been filled by TMNT candidates.

Independent presidential candidate Ferhan Siddiqi retains his president of the Murdoch International Student Association.

The positions of MUPSA, Mandurah Student Association and Rockingham Student Association President remain vacant.

“Thanks to the students of Murdoch for putting up with us campaigning this last week. Big thanks to those who engaged with us and voted. Bigger thanks still to those who are voted even though they’re about to leave Murdoch- people voting entirely for others than themselves was actually quite touching,” says McDonald.

Position Elected Ticket Stupol Experience
Guild President Guy McDonald TMNT 2012: Sustainability Officer

2015: General Secretary

Education VP Brodie Skalko Action 2015: Clubs Officer
General Secretary Andy Hunter TMNT 2015: President of Murdoch Student Law Society
Murdoch Post Grad Student Association [MUPSA] President Vacant    
MUPSA VP Undergrad Samuel Edge (unopposed) Independent
MUPSA VP Postgrad Vacant    
MISA President Ferhan Siddiqi (unopposed) Independent 2015: MISA President
Clubs Officer Darian Whyte TMNT  
Events Officer Rachel Davidson Action  
Social Justice Officer Carmel Hooshmand TMNT  
Sports Officer Bianca Talbot TMNT 2015: Women’s Representative
Sustainability Officer Lauren Hodson Action  
External Representative Dean Wicken TMNT  
Disability Representative Megan Browne

(unopposed)

  2014 & 2015: Disability Representative
Queer Representative Jacintha Kenny

(unopposed)

Action  
Indigenous Representative Ashleigh Lindsay

(unopposed)

  2015: Indigenous Representative
Women’s Representative Claire Brodie

(unopposed)

TMNT  
Rural Remote and Interstate Rep Vacant    

Guild Elections: Action Policy Analysis

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Disclaimer: Roland ran under the ACTION ticket in 2014.

Here we go for round two of policy analysis, rules are the same as before, judging policy on how realist they are in my experience with student politics at Murdoch.

I am familiar with most of the Action candidates, I met their executive team of Troy, Brodie and Gavin in 2014 as Guild President as they were all active students in various clubs and Troy and Brodie ran for election as part of the same ticket with me last year. I met Lauren this year volunteering for WSEN, which she co-ordinated and have met Claudia and Rachel who have been very active getting Student for Refugees off the ground this year. Also David, their School Board nominee contacted The Guild this year to begin the petition about services at the library.

I would’ve liked to have written this earlier but Action took awhile to get their policy out there. Maybe something worth considering when you vote. I did find a flyer though today, so I’ll type the dot points in here and give my appraisal. The flyer has greater detail so if I talk about something not inferred in the bullet point, I’m referring to detail provided in their flyer.

Engagement

  • Get involved week
  • Kick start Education Council
  • Supporting Clubs and Societies
  • Encouraging student led initiatives

Get involved week is the showpiece here, seems to involve week long activities and promotions to engage with new students. Sounds promising. Sounds like a  lot of work but it’s just a bunch of forms for Room Bookings to deal with.

Kick starting Education Council is also something promised by TMNT. Action claim it hasn’t operated in 4 years but the truth is it’s probably been defunct for much longer. Education Council has a better chance of getting up next year no matter who wins though because there is finally a substantial number of students running for school board positions which is encouraging to see.

It was interesting that supporting clubs to obtain external commercial sponsorship came from the more leftwing of the two tickets. I really expected TMNT, with its card carrying Liberals, to come up with that idea but they’re pushing their voucher system instead. Anyway, bringing external sponsors on board would greatly assist a lot of clubs, finding appropriate sponsors is the hard bit. For example MESS (Murdoch Engineering Student Society) probably have a lot more opportunities to make industry links than say the Quidditch team. With some focus though, Action should be able to deliver this idea and it won’t require re-write of Guild procedures.

Encouraging student led initiatives sounds promising and inclusive. A cynic might say that such a statement could read as “we have no ideas” but I’ll take Action at face value and assume they will be open and helpful to students who want to start exciting things on campus. There are caveats though, a big one being that often students don’t have any good ideas. For example a student approached us this year about holding a 4th of July party for American Independence. This is a bad idea because the vast majority of American students are exchange students and only here during semester. They also came to us with their idea on the 2nd of July. That said, The Guild sometimes receives great ideas and I believe that truly engaging activities happen because they have groundswell and drive from the student body. That requires a self motivated and engaged campus atmosphere and that is the harder task.

Standing up for student rights

  • No cuts, no fees, no corporate universities
  • Cross subsidy of research and teaching

The first point is almost redundant now with deregulation off the agenda but it is nice to see a ticket come out and state their position on federal education policy. The second point is more interesting. It’s an open secret that almost all universities in Australia supplement their research budgets with the tuition fees of students. Convincing the university to open its books and show exactly how they redistribute money is a very big task. I think the students at ANU made some progress to this, but it’s a very big task and I doubt Murdoch will be comfortable with this. It may be as straightforward as the Senate and Academic Council asking which documents they can release to the public but even that doesn’t show the whole story.

Accountability

  • Truth
  • Transparency

Not much to say, Actions accountability policies are simple and achievable. No need to redraft Statute 17.

Sustainability

  • Divestment
  • Support Sustainability

Divestment from fossil fuels is an interesting issue. Right now the Guild holds no shares but we do deal with plenty of companies that could be seen as evil. Where do you draw the line? Is having a bank account with a bank that has in the past helped finance mining operations too evil to deal with? Action might say it is. The Guild has changed banks twice in the past two years though so it’s not difficult, it will keep the Finance Manager distracted for a few weeks though. As for making the university divest, see my above comments on cross subsidy of fees and university transparency. I spent a year on Senate and I’m not actually sure if Murdoch has any shares, fossils fuel or otherwise. Again ANU announced a partial divestment last year but I suspect all of Murdoch’s money is tied up in the St Ive’s retirement village.

Social Justice

  • Assist student activism and awareness clubs on campus
  • Collective rights

Much like TMNT, many of Action’s policies lack the procedural detail that outline exactly how they take shape. “Supporting the student activist clubs on campus” could look like funding the Free Syrian Army or it could look like getting the Students for Refugees in the same room as Oaktree and FossilFreeMurdoch. I expect Action will do the latter, which is fine.

Better Study Facilities

  • Library and IT Services

The Action team includes two students, Brodie and David, who were heavily involved in petitioning the Library this year. Their policy statement seems to outline that they will continue to engage with the university on these issues and that’s good because I do know the university is slowly working on them.

In my opinion, Actions policies are more firmly grounded in reality than TMNT’s, although Dean Wicken might prefer the language “less ambitious”. I thought Action might’ve bragged more about Troy and Lauren organising an international sustainability conference on campus this year, but like their policy they seem more down to Earth. A few areas could probably do with greater detail and clarity. The lack of event ideas is also a notable omission but I can almost predict their replies will be along the lines of fostering and promoting club led events.

There you have it. If there is demand, I’ll try to scape together some thoughts on the independent candidates. The comments are open.

No quendas running for 2016 Guild Council

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By Madura McCormack

Murdoch student election nominations are in, with two official tickets and what is slated to be a three-way fight for Guild President.

After running mostly unopposed in the last election, the ‘Action’ ticket is back for another political season, this time with outgoing Sustainability officer Troy Treeby at the helm.

‘Action’ faces some actual competition this year, in the form of the ‘TMNT’ or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ‘The Murdoch Now Team’ ticket, fronted by outgoing General Secretary Guy McDonald.

There appears to be a few students running independently, with current MISA [Murdoch International Student Assoc] President Ferhan Siddiqi taking a stab at the Guild President role and relative unknown Adrian Gallo running for four different positions.

This election season will see 38 per cent of positions being filled unopposed, a massive swing from 2014, where 73 per cent of student leaders ran without a fight.

Unfortunately, there are no quendas or other marsupials running in this year’s election, a blow to the critters that are actually on campus.

The 'Action' Team. Source: Supplied

The ‘Action’ Team. Source: Supplied

The main promises

The ‘Action’ ticket includes outgoing Clubs Officer Brodie Skalko as EVP hopeful, with the team looking to re-launch ‘Education Council’ which has been inactive for four years.

Running alongside Guy McDonald will be Andy Hunter for General Secretary and Dean Wicken for EVP.

The ‘TMNT’ ticket intends to install a ‘Guild Treasurer’, who will be in-charge of publishing the yearly budget. There is also talk by TMNT to bring puppies and kittens on campus for Stamp Out Stress Day.

Guy McDonald from TMNT. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Guy McDonald from TMNT. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Both tickets are promising to extend library hours during exam time.

In other positive news, there are actual people running for the School Boards seats, with 9 out of 16 positions having at least one candidate. This is up from the 4 positions filled in 2014.

Check out the full broadsheets here and stay tuned to METIOR for election updates.

Voting opens October 5 and closes October 8.

 

 

 

 

Dear Tony

Dear Tony,

I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but you know that first budget of yours, well it’s a massive fail mate.

In a way though you really ought to be congratulated, because you have managed to do something positive for progressive forces in this country, uniting and firing up the left in a way that hasn’t been seen in a long time.

Surely you must have a fair indication of the disdain towards this budget, when even, former high profile Liberals come out publicly saying that you’ve taken things too far.

If you wouldn’t mind Mr Abbott, I have a couple of questions I would like you to think about carefully and answer truthfully.

Why are you attacking the aged, the poor, the sick and downtrodden in our society, when you expressly promised before the election that there would be no cuts to education, healthcare, pensions, or the ABC and SBS?

Don’t you find it somewhat hypocritical to ask us to pay even more for our university education when you got your degree courtesy of the taxpayer?

It’s all well and good to argue that the “age of entitlement” is over, and that everyone has to do their “fair share” but it smacks of insincerity when stacked against the massive corporate welfare handed out to mining companies and big business.

A majority of those I’ve spoken to are appalled by the unravelling of the very fabric of society and the drive towards an uncaring user-pays world, where all that matters is the size of your wallet.

For me personally, what is most concerning is the underlying neoliberal agenda implicit in this budget which promotes a world where the ‘market’ and the ‘economy’ are put before people and the environment which sustains us all.

Tony, I would also like to share with you some of my fellow students concerns about your freshman budget.

Engineering student James is very concerned about your plans to deregulate university education:

“The government argues that university education will still be accessible, but I say that it will widen the gap between those who can afford to pay and those who can’t.

“I find it surprising that the so-called ‘infrastructure Prime Minister’ is funding the construction of roads, which are really only a Band-Aid solution to our traffic congestion problems.

“For instance in WA, the looming threat of having the Beeliar Wetlands bulldozed as part of the Roe Highway extension will come at a societal and an environmental cost – that has been largely ignored, all done under the mantra of ‘progress’,” James said.

Courtney a psychology and criminology student is also troubled about the changes to university education and wonders how she is going to pay for her degree and the impact of the new Medicare co-payments to see the doctor.

“I just don’t understand why the government wants to make it harder for people to get an education,” Courtney said.

“I have friends with young children and I’m worried about how they are going to afford the new Medicare co-payment. Seven dollars might not be a lot to Joe Hockey, but to a single mum raising two kids that’s a significant amount each visit to the doctor.”

It’s not only people you’re hurting Tony, but it’s the environment as well and in particular your decision to handball environmental responsibility to the states is laughable.

Recent university graduate Carmen is most worried about the changes to environmental protection laws and the denigration of our World Heritage listed areas.

“I don’t trust the states to be independent enough when assessing projects, especially when they are the proponent in some cases, I think it will just mean open slather for development,” she said.

So you see, Tony you have miscalculated with this budget, and I would urge you to go back to the drawing board and redesign your budget with people, not numbers in mind.

We want to see politicians who are genuine and have the best interests of the people and this country at heart.

Next time you are at the dispatch box or on a doorstop, just remember that, and know that you don’t speak for me or a lot of other people in the community.

Yours sincerely,

Troy Treeby

A disappointed citizen