Too Long, Didn’t Read
ANUSA’s Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) 3, which ran for three hours, was the last OGM of the year. The meeting focused on the 2023 provisional budget, and what postgraduate support could look like next year, following PARSA’s defunding.
Other notable motions regarded election campaigning, and how it impacts disabled students with a disability. Discussions around elections also included a motion on spending caps for graphic design and photography, and amending regulations regarding withdrawals and voting options.
The last motion of the evening focused on ANUSA’s response to the current revolutionary uprisings in Iran.
Postgraduates Added to ANUSA
OGM 3’s most significant change was the passing of provisions for the inclusion of postgraduates within ANUSA. This motion created constitutional provisions to include postgraduates in the event PARSA closes in June 2023. President Christian Flynn emphasised the normative value of a combined union stating “…there is a benefit to bringing these unions together, to building a stronger, unified advocacy front…”.
Flynn noted that any revamped postgraduate union would likely not be independent from the ANU, and argued that a superunion is preferable to a dependent one.
The motion passed unanimously.
This move to incorporate PARSA also necessitated the presentation of two budgets: one of $2.4 million, which ANUSA plans to receive in a scenario where it remains the undergraduate union; and one of $3.5 million in which ANUSA receives the 21% of SSAF currently allocated to PARSA.
The non-ideal budget, passed in the case that ANUSA does not receive PARSA’s funding, does not feature postgraduate-specific items such as “Shut Up and Write” and SEEF funds.
Notably, it aims for total funding of $2.4 million, which is higher than ANUSA’s current annual funding. While it is common for ANUSA to bid for more money each year, it also often doesn’t receive what it initially requests.
The ideal budget not only adds funding for PARSA items but also increases other line items to adjust for postgraduate members. These include:
- $30,000 more for Departments (27 percent)
- $6,000 more for the Education Committee (200 percent)
- $35,000 more for student engagement (266 percent)
- $900,000 more for salaries and wages (53 percent)
The increased salaries and wages will cover new staff hired for postgraduate programs, but also adds onto salaries for Department officers. This reflects ANUSA’s ongoing commitment to paying fair and competitive remuneration to its staff.
This continues the trend of salaries and wages dominating budget spending, with ANUSA continuing to argue that competitive remuneration is important to support action on working conditions on campus.
One of the largest changes between the non-ideal and ideal budget is the amount allocated to student assistance grants. This year, ANUSA budgeted $300,000 to student assistance grants (as of OGM 2). In the non-ideal scenario this budget line drops to $60,000, while in the ideal it rises to $475,000.
When asked for comment regarding this change, ANUSA stated:
“If ANU allocates SSAF in such a way that falls short of what is necessary for ANUSA to meet the costs of essential services, we will do our best to meet students’ urgent needs and protect ANUSA’s core operations. The ‘non-ideal’ budget should be sufficient to meet the most pressing needs of students; however students however less funding obviously diminishes the scope of student support we can offer.”
This move to cut student assistance grants in the non-ideal scenario reflects ANUSA’s ongoing struggle as a student union with limited funds. It remains to be seen if the ANU is willing to, as ANUSA argues it should, step in to assist struggling students.
While elements of the ideal budget clearly compensate for postgraduates, other aspects expand ANUSA’s services and scope overall. It is unclear if this is ANUSA fixing the sources of its deficit this year, or if it is a reflection of the scale of a new super-union.
ANUSA routinely changes its budget throughout the year to account for changing circumstances, and to adjust for the SSAF funding it receives. Therefore, it is best to consider these budgets as indicative of ANUSA priorities leading up to the first OGM of 2023.
During the budget discussion, Labor-aligned members moved to increase ANUSA’s contribution to the NUS to $45,000 from the $10,000 membership fee. Members of the ANUSA executive pushed back. Vice-President Chido Nyakeungama said “the NUS can choke”, citing issues with accessing equity tickets for the recent NUS ethnocultural convention. The NUS recently began investigations into alleged embezzlement, allegedly committed by members of the Unity (Labor-aligned) faction.
Kai Dreyfuss-Ballesi, the incoming Welfare Officer for 2023, moved that ANUSA instead commit $20,000 in the ideal situation. This amended motion passed.
Election Regulation Reform
SAlt proposed a motion to remove Kambri from the list of campaigning exclusion zones. This would allow candidates for ANUSA to campaign in the Kambri precinct. Several students recently criticised SAlt online for their aggressive campaigning during the election.
However, Disability Officers Maddi McCarthy and Mira Robson proposed a counter-motion, calling on the General Secretary to review and, if needed, reform election regulations. The motion stressed the need to enable both fair campaigning, and a safe and accessible campus for disabled students.
Officers McCarthy and Robson wrote, “We need to make sure any changes benefit everyone and that these have been thoroughly consulted on by all of the affected parties.”
The motion passed.
Following the election, the probity team proposed several motions. The debate focused on a proposed cap on graphic design and photography spending for election campaigning. President-elect Ben Yates moved to make the incoming General Secretary, his running mate, review the cap in the Governance and Election Reform Working Group.
Iran Solidarity Motion
The last motion of the evening was regarding solidarity with the current revolutionary uprising in Iran. This condemned the human rights abuses committed by the Islamic Regime against the people of Iran, sparked by the murder of Mahsa Amini. Yerin Park of SAlt proposed the motion, while Paria Najafzadeh amended it to reflect a position of support from ANUSA, without co-opting the movement in Iran. Najafzadeh’s amendments highlighted the lack of consultation between SAlt and Iranian students prior to the motion being moved.
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