In the week commencing Monday 7th March, ANU students will have the opportunity to vote for candidates at the ANU Union election.
There are three tickets contesting the election.
Save the Bar is affiliated with ANU Labor Left. It is comprised of Liam Fitzpatrick, Alexander Chatterton and Benjamin Magrath.
There are two tickets affiliated with Labor Right. For the last two years, every seat on the union has been won by a Labor Right affiliated ticket.
Revitalise Your Union is the first of the Labor Right tickets. It is being organised by current Union board member Tom Lindenmayer ‒ elected in a casual vacancy ‒ and are also running Monique Blasiak and James Damjanovic.
Stimulate Your Union, the second Labor Right ticket, uses the name of an unsuccessful 2011 for 2012 ANUSA ticket. This name was common up until the 2012 union election for Labor Right affiliated candidates. Organised by Nathan Kerwood, they are also running Jemma Cavanagh and Nick Douros.
Save the Bar
The Labor Left affiliated ticket is aiming to break the stranglehold that Labor Right affiliated tickets have had on the union in the past few years. Despite their name, they are not running a single issue ticket.
One of the tickets major policies is to protect the current bar under the premise that it will replaced by a wine bar in the union court redevelopment. This policy is based on fact that the union has a say in the development of union court.
Currently plans available online do not specifically mention a wine bar, however do include multiple shops, bars and cafés under the redevelopment.
In regard to Union finances, Save the Bar’s policy states that they aim to save cost by streamlining revenue and sharing resources with ANUSA. They have not indicated to Woroni in policy documents as to which services and resources will be shared.
Save the Bar want to apply an affirmative action policy, aiming to get people identifying as women onto the union board, however they are running three white male candidates.
When questioned about this, they stated “[it is] important to ensure that the culture of the Union takes a shift to becoming more inclusive so this doesn’t occur in the future”.
“That’s why we’re committed to introducing an AA policy for the board to make it a representative body which union representatives have failed to do for years”.
Save the Bar also promises an expansion of services. However, they have not told Woroni what these services might be other than reaching out to other unions to help students understand “their rights at work”.
Furthermore, they promise to run further big events, and to publish union minutes in Woroni and on ANU Stalkerspace.
Other policies being put forward include linking bonuses to performance indexes, expanding bar opening hours and hosting events such as Chinese New Year.
As of the Thursday before the election they were the only ticket to have launched their Facebook page and provided policies to the wider ANU student population.
Revitalise Your Union
A Labor Right affiliated ticket, it is being organised by current union member (through a casual vacancy) Tom Lindenmayer and is also running Monique Blasiak and James Damjanovic.
When first contacted by Woroni on the Tuesday before the election we were informed that policy had not been “finalised”. However, Lindenmayer assured Woroni that they planned on releasing all their policies “well before the election.”
When asked about the lack of policies just before the election, Lindenmayer assured us that “It’s standard practice for every student campaign to release policy just before election week. Look at Let’s, Fling, Refresh and all the past student campaigns. We’re releasing our policy with more than enough time for students to consider their merits, just like every other campaign.”
Let’s released their policy a week and a half before the election and Fling launched their detailed policy website two and a half weeks before the election. The sole Union ticket named amongst the examples, Refresh, released their policies a week before the election.
Woroni asked Lindenmayer how his ticket differed from the other ticket affiliated with Labor Right.
Lindenmayer replied: “Nathan Kerwood is a close friend of mine, and I have a lot of respect for him and his ticket. I think they have good ideas and if Nathan gets elected I would definitely look forward to working with him.”
He did not provide substantive detail about this difference. However, as part of his answer to this question he did suggest that Save the Bar “are using fudged numbers” in their campaign.
In terms of substantive policies, a key policy put forward by Revitalise is to run student surveys. When asked what they were going to be used for Lindenmayer informed us they would “complement policy announcements we’ve already made”.
Woroni put to Lindenmayer that student surveys should have been done before releasing policy documents. Lindenmayer replied that he would reach out to clubs and societies to increase engagement after being elected.
Revitalise also promises to improve employment opportunities for students within the Union. However, this policy has been a priority for previous Labor right affiliated tickets, without notable success. There are also potential legal issues as to whether or not they are able to discriminate against non-ANU students in terms of employment opportunities.
Revitalise also wants to put union funds into high dividend union bonds.
Other policies of Revitalise include exploring food vans and increasing grants for student societies. Revitalise has promised to sausage sizzles in happy hour and more microwaves as one of their priorities to students if elected.
Woroni would like note that Revitalise has suggested that policies may change before the election.
This article was written two working days before the election.
Stimulate Your Union
Stimulate is the second Labor Right affiliated ticket and is being run by Nathan Kerwood.
Despite Woroni’s lack of objection to them sending us detailed policies, Stimulate provided Woroni with only a summary of their policies.
When asked how they differed from the other Labor right ticket, Stimulate did not provide substantive detail, only that “I’ve worked with those on the Revitalise ticket and if one of us are elected alongside another we look forward to working positively with them on the board”.
Policies include “keeping social spaces like ANU bar on campus”.
Similar to Save the Bar, they have endorsed the idea of increased productivity and efficiency. However, they have not suggested in policy documents given to Woroni any sort of details on how they would go about achieving this.
They have also promised increased funding for the food aid program. Currently, this program uses free leftover food provided by Union businesses. This food is then distributed by ANUSA. The Union has applied for SSAF funding to repatriate the cost of this food, but has so far being unsuccessful in these applications.
A key policy point of Stimulate is to increase the hours of Union Court businesses. Currently, all but a couple of the Union outlets are leased out and the Union has no say over the operation of the businesses. For this policy to be implemented, changes to the Union building lease agreements may need to occur.
Stimulate also wants to increase the amount of “awesome nights out with bigger and better acts at ANU bar”.
When asked by Woroni how they would do that, Kerwood replied “Stimulate will ensure that an act is advertised beyond the bar or on what is currently a very limited social media presence including in [sic] supporting the work of the newly hired social media manager.”
“By being able to draw larger crowds with increased advertising of the event, we hope to attract both local artists as well as ensure ANU bar is on every artist’s tour line up.”
Similar to Revitalise, they also want to encourage hiring ANU students, posing similar problems in terms of discrimination laws.
Stimulate did not provide a financial policy in the document sent to Woroni.
When asked by Woroni about the state of Union finances, Kerwood replied that “currently the union has had a 10% increase in profitability in the past year. This performance is a positive sign, and Stimulate your Union wish to continue the board’s efforts in furthering this increase”.
“We understand though that the Union is still running at a loss and that there are still a lot more that can be done through responsible fiscal management to stimulate a bright long-term future for the union.”
Maclaren Wall, former Burgmann Residents’ Association (BRA) president and ANUSA Probity Officer, has been following the Union for a substantial period. Having attended the past two Union AGM’s, where he has inquired about the state of the Union, he remarked that.
“None of the tickets address the two largest issues facing the union at the moment, those being: the rapid decline in revenue and the consequences of the Union Court redevelopment proposed by the ANU.”
“Looking at these candidates I’m both scared, outraged and flabbergasted at the same time. When will we learn?”
The union elections take place between Monday 7th March and Thursday 11th March. Three vacancies will be elected by 3 candidates. The postgraduate vacancy that went uncontested was awarded to Kanish Oberoi, who is also affiliated with Labor Right on campus.
Karan Dhamija is a former member of the ANU Labor Students Club
Andrew Cavenagh is a former member of the ANU Liberal Club.