Would it really be an ANUSA election if there were no joke tickets? According to Phillip Etches and Matthew Bunten, spokespeople for the satirical ticket 2B 4 ANUSA, such a situation would be highly unlikely. Their ticket, which has formally joined the 2016 ANUSA race, is based on the premise of being solely comprised of people living on the same floor at Burgmann College.
To discuss what prompted the creation of the ticket and criticisms of student politics, Woroni sat down with the two Burgmann residents.
According to Bunten, a member of the floor but not a formal candidate, 2B 4 ANUSA arose not only from a desire to have a bit of fun with the elections and student politics, but also from discussions about the way that Australian politics have become more and more insular in recent times. In his opinion, the creation of a ticket existing on a single floor in a single college for the ANUSA elections is simply regionalism in broader Australian politics being taken to its logical extreme.
Additionally, Etches commented on the idea that 2B 4 ANUSA is also a statement on the claimed “inclusivity and diversity” of other tickets running at ANU, which are “about as politically inclusive and diverse as a single floor forming its own ticket.”
At this point, Bunten chimed in, praising Amplify’s decision to accept expressions of interest (EoI) from potential gen rep candidates, although he questioned the utility and motive of this decision, stating that ANUSA had already created an EoI process that would have made the information available to all potential tickets.
Finally, the idea of playing on the Burgmann stereotype appealed to the frontrunners of the ticket, who wanted to create something that was the absolute “Burgmann of Burgmann,” humour they claimed “everyone can get around.” For example, the presidential candidate for the ticket is first year Commerce/Law student Gibson Crampton, whose “two weeks of sports whip experience will stand him in good stead” according to Etches, “though that’s still a better election record than other presidential candidates.”
In terms of policies, the ticket outlined their platform to include getting a Jacuzzi for convo (a section of their floor at Burgmann); finding Corndo (an ex-2B resident) a boyfriend on exchange; bringing Brodburger to the ANU campus by 2024; abolishing the position of Treasurer (as no members of 2B had the accounting prerequisites and therefore the position was discriminatory); and giving all 2B 4 ANUSA executive candidates preferential treatment in ALP pre-selection in the federal election of their choice.
2B 4 ANUSA does not expect to win any positions in the upcoming election, and instead wishes other ‘serious’ tickets “nothing but the best”.
Regardless, the formal creation of their ticket has generated heavy criticism, including arguments that they are wasting ANUSA’s time and money and that vote splitting could compromise the positions of legitimate candidates. Additionally, the ticket, by its very existence as a piece of satire, has been criticised for demeaning and trivialising the policy and advocacy work of students in ANUSA in important areas like mental health and higher education policy.
In response the 2B 4 ANUSA spokespeople reiterated their belief that their joke ticket aims to comment on some of the reasons for apathy towards ANUSA amongst the student population, and to engage students who otherwise would not have been engaged.
Etches argued that the “biggest issue of ANUSA is how it’s been used as a springboard for real politicians… this is more egregious than anything we could ever do.”
“This ticket is a joke, but politics is not a joke” Bunten told us as we wrapped up the interview. “Being funny is not the opposite of being serious.”