Woroni have received allegations that the ANUSA 2015 Fling ticket has violated electoral regulations through non-disclosure of campaign expenses. The Fling ticket have also disregarded due process and used established positions in Griffin Hall to gain advantage in the lead-up to polling week.
It was brought to Woroni’s attention that on the Sunday before election week, Michael Harrison, Fling’s Presidential Candidate and current President of Griffin Hall, used room HA G052 in the Haydon Allen Building for campaign purposes. This room was booked on the ANU Timetable website under ‘Griffin Hall.’
ANU Venue Hire told Woroni that to hire that room as an individual student it would cost $142.00 for 3 hours but to book it for use of Griffin Hall, it would be free. Fling’s official expenditure report submitted on the 25th of August outlines a total expenditure of $1705.72. This did not include a declaration of ‘services in kind’ or any reference to $142.00 in Room Hire.
When approached by Woroni, Harrison initially stated that “There was a Griffin Hall meeting there earlier and then we negotiated with Griffin who allowed us to access the room and they said they would have done that for any other ticket.”
However, when asked if the 3 hour booking was to cater for the meeting of Griffin Hall’s Strategic Planning Committee or Fling’s ticket meeting, Harrison said, “So that was both. They were like ‘use it for the meeting and then if you still have spare time…’ and we did have a ticket meeting after that and they were like ‘feel free to continue to use the room.” Harrison later clarified that by ‘they’ he meant Ben Duggan, Griffin’s Community Coordinator.
When asked what time Harrison alerted his Fling teammates to the availability of the room, he contradicted his earlier statement about the room being booked for “both” Griffin Hall and Fling by saying; “To be perfectly honest I can’t remember exactly when we posted on our [Facebook] Group. Pretty well after we’d finished our [Griffin Strategic Planning] meeting. We noted that we were planning on having a meeting at some point we just didn’t know the location and after having being told that we could continue to use that room… So it was pretty short notice.”
It is unclear from these statements whether Fling’s use of the room was a spur of the moment decision or whether Harrison had been offered the room before the booking was made, as indicated by the length of the booking.
Neither Ben Gill or Oscar Morgain, the respective Presidential candidates for Connect and Fetch, who are current Griffin Hall members, were offered rooms booked under the name of Griffin Hall to prepare for their campaigns. Neither candidate was alerted to the availability of the room on Sunday night.
Concerns surrounding the Fling candidates’ established leadership positions with Griffin Hall were previously raised with Woroni when Duggan sent out a pre-election email on the 5th of August. This email detailed that ticket campaigners were allowed to wear their campaign t-shirts in the Griffin Common Room, which was banned by the Griffin Hall Members’ Association (GHMA) in 2012 and 2013. These changes were made with a lack of consultation with previous Leadership teams.
While Duggan stated in his August 5th email “There is to be no election materials in the Common Room. This includes posters, stickers etc”, concerns were raised by several Griffin Hall members, including previous members of the Leadership Team who are uninvolved in the 2015 elections. These members expressed strong views that the ban on campaign t-shirts had been an integral part of keeping the Common Room a ‘campaign free space’ given its small space and close proximity to Union Court.
When asked why this policy had changed, Duggan replied in an email on the 7th of August, “This year, the rules are a balance between letting people talk about the elections and wear campaign t-shirts and ensuring that Griffin Members are not harassed.”
When asked by Woroni as to whether he was consulted about the change, Oscar Morgain, Presidential Candidate on the Fetch ticket stated, “No, and considering that I was last year’s [Griffin Hall] President I was a little bit surprised that we had such a stark change in regulations with no consultation with any former leadership positions as to why the regulations were as they were in 2013 or 2012.”
Ben Gill, Presidential candidate on the Connect ticket stated that he was not consulted either, and said that “I would have liked more notice as to why the changes happened and why it’s different between the Common Room and other residential halls and colleges… it seems very one-ticket-dominated in Griffin at the moment so I guess it can be perceived as an unfair advantage.”
It remains unclear as to which Griffin members were consulted about this change. As the previous ban had been discussed and enacted by previous Griffin Leadership Teams, due process would have involved consultation with both former Leadership Team members as well as the existing Griffin Leadership Team. Currently, the Griffin Leadership Team contains the President, CASS Rep, an NUS Delegate, CBE Rep and Campaign Manager of Fling. No candidates from Fetch or Connect are members of the Leadership Team.