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National Conference votes down motion opposed to Uni Melb, Lockheed Martin deal

GEELONG — A motion to campaign against an agreement between an arms manufacturer and Melbourne University that gives internship opportunities to students was voted down after a fiery debate driven by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS).

Ben Ezzes, from the AUJS, spoke against the motion which would have compelled the the National Union of Students to actively campaign against the partnership with one of the world’s leading weapon manufacturers.

Socialist Alternative members shouted at Ezzes, who said it was anti-semitic to condemn the partnership with the University of Melbourne. Socialist Alternative members had been shouting condemnation of the arms manufacturer, which sells arms to major military powers, including Israel.

Student Unity and the Liberals voted the motion down, defeating the policy which condemned universities for doing deals with private corporations.

Mindi Suter (SAlt) from the University of Melbourne said: “We should always be against war … We need to be on the right side of history and not support genocide.”

Socialist Alternative shouted: “No racism no war, this is what we’re fighting for!”

The motion called on the NUS Education Officer to “produce and publicise materials condemning the relationships between private firms and universities, particularly those engaged in military research at Melbourne University, RMIT and the ANU.”

Lockheed Martin has had a relationship with the University of Melbourne since 2010 and established a laboratory as part of the partnership in 2016.

All the University of Melbourne delegates to the NUS National Conference voted for the ‘Lock out Lockheed’ motion.

The motion was moved by Nick Reich (SAlt) and Shania Khan (SAlt), both from the University of Melbourne.

The tensions on conference floor came after the Grassroots’ Dylan Lloyd allegedly threatened to pull quorum in the morning after Ariel Zohar, an observer from the Australasian Union of Jewish Students and a former RMIT University Student Union president, came to conference floor wearing a t-shirt that said: “The Promised Land”.

Lloyd told Woroni that he didn’t intend to pull quorum but said there “was discomfort from Jewish members of our delegation especially when they [the AUJS] took a photo of our delegates without consent sitting by their delegation.”

The ANU’s newly elected education officer, Harry Needham, said after the morning’s session that there was “lively debate. Some perhaps wasn’t needed.”