The National Union of Students annual National Conference continues for the third and final day of policy debate. Please send me questions through Twitter on @OpusMagazine or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow the #nusnatcon hashtag on Twitter for more information, and follow along what exactly is being debated with these proposed policy documents.
Coming to you from NUS NatCon where, after officer bearer candidate speeches this morning, we’re kicking on with policy debate on the last day of conference floor.
Recapping, last night we finished up for a relatively early night at 12:47am – it could have gone until 1:45am. Some NLS members left first causing the conference session to lose quorum at which point SAlt left en mass. Plenty of outrage all-round about a session on Disability being cut short, but we’re back into debate on the Disability chapter now.
Disability debate getting heated at times, usually with SAlt accusing policies that are intended to be inclusive (e.g. alternate modes of protest participation) as actually being exclusionary.
Socialist Alternative stand up and chant “SHAME LABOR SHAME”, I notice the Liberals joining in on the opposite site of the room, haha
Disability chapter wrapped up, moving on to Ethno-Cultural policy, which for those unfamiliar is largely based around opposing racism.
Debating a bloc of policies now (11.2, 11.5, and 11.12) which is about collecting and acquiring data about ethnoculturally diverse students.
Speaker: “If you’re the only representative of your university here and you don’t have an ethnocultural department or people of colour department, it’s your responsibility to help get this data from you university.”
As per usual, SAlt thinks surveys are bullshit and a distraction from overthrowing the ruling class.
For a wealth of information, check out this spreadsheet, making sure to click all the tabs at the bottom of the page: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e1L6c34SjqrKNyYgOSEZza7BuRrqQquKLmhSpQj33ks/edit
Unity speaker: ‘We need data in order to demonstrate to institutions the need for spaces and other resources on campus for people of colour.’
Currently debating policies 11.1, 11.4, and 11.9 en bloc.
These motions are round anti-semetic and anti-muslim bigotry, with 11.9 being against changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination act.
11.4 includes the action point of “The 2017 Ethno-Cultural Officer will assist campuses to establish both autonomous spaces and religious prayer rooms on campuses where these are not already in place.”
We have a kamikaze Liberal speaker against policy 11.9 regarding the Liberals proposed changes to Section 18C of the racial discrimination act.
This is not being received well.
Classic chant from SAlt: “Racist, sexist, anti-queer! Liberals are not welcome here!”
Currently debating ‘ETHNO 11.14 – Anti-Terror Laws are Racist’
Floor was debating 11.13 as part of a bloc (with 11.15, 11.16, 11.17, 11.20, and 11.22) but it will now be debated separately after a procedural at the request of Student Unity. Unity supported all the other motions in bloc but were not willing to vote in favour of 11.13 as it condemns the Australia Labor Party.
We’re likely to see some pretty acrimonious debate here if Student Unity members do come to the podium to argue against the policy ‘ETHNO 11.13 – Australia: A Racist Disgrace’ instead of simply waiting and voting.
No speakers against 11.13, not exactly surprising as it would have been a shitfight.
The motion was carried.
No speakers against 11.13, not exactly surprising as it would have been a shitfight.
The motion was carried, Unity appeared satisfied to simply abstain.
We’ve moved onto debating constitutional reform.
Currently debating ‘CRBL 2 – Removing the office of National Environment Officer’
Lewis Whittaker of Student Unity speaker argues that NUS is a representative organisations and “students don’t identify as trees”.
Motion carried – NUS will no longer have a National Environment Officer!
Currently debating ‘CRBL 9 – National Conference Returning Officer’ – which is intended to prevent a ‘fail con’ situation. In past years the refusal of conference floor to elect a Returning Officer (who conducts elections) could have had serious ramifications for the union.
Some speakers are using this motion as an opportunity to criticise the election year after year of the same Returning Officer (Lambros Tapianos) who is closely associated with Student Unity/Labor Right. This motion will have little bearing on that outcome, as the RO will be elected by National Executive, which is going to be controlled by Student Unity anyway.
‘CRBL 9 – National Conference Returning Officer’ was carried, which marks the end of constitutional reform section.
We are now moving to the Women’s policy chapter, so delegates are
hastily rearranging themselves so that women are seated at the front of
their faction’s section of seating.
By convention – one that even the Liberals respect – men don’t speak during the Women’s policy debate, and vote in line with their faction’s woman members.
(Meeting broke up for dinner in case you hadn’t already guess that.)
Currently still waiting for quorum for the LAST policy session of this NatCon which,
mercifully, must finish by 12am. In previous years, the last session of
the conference has continued until the wee hours of the morning. As a result the conference today (and the other days) has moved rather more briskly than in my previous experience.
Nearly 9pm and we’re still waiting on quorum.
Back to Women’s policy chapter. Conference has voted to restrict speakers to the mover, seconder, and one against (right of reply from the mover or seconder too). Very brief speeches with a time limit of 2 minutes too. Speakers are barely done with their preamble by the time they have to wrap it up.
Currently debating motions 6.6, 6.11, and 6.21.
Speakers talking about the ‘pink tax’ motion (WOMEN 6.6 – Pink Tax Campaign). Probably a bad example of unfairness to say that women’s razors cost more than identical men’s razor (after all, if they’re identical, why not buy the cheaper one). I am sure that other legit examples exist though (one was given of deoderant – but in my humble opinion most male deodorant sucks so that’s not the best example either haha).
Motions flying thick and fast now – finding it quite hard to keep up! We are approaching T-2hrs until the end of policy debate, so fair enough!
Currently a motion against federal Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash.
“The only way to fight Michaelia Cash is to elect a Shorten Labor government!”
Yeah, that did not go down well with the Trottier quarter of the floor.
EXTREMELY LOUD AND REPETITIVE command from the chair for SAlt member Ellie to “sit down”.
Currently talking on ‘WOMEN 6.43 – It’s Bloody Beyond Time that All People Had the Right to Choose!’
In case you didn’t know: abortion is still illegal in Queensland and NSW. It is considered by some to be de facto legal, but a doctor has to determine that the pregnancy is a threat to the physical or mental well-being of the pregnant person.
SAlt speaker taking the opportunity to slam NLS about the absence of the (NLS member) National Women’s Officer who has left conference due to grievances with NLS hierarchy.
More physical altercations within business committee on stage. Nuts.
We’re on the last motion of the Women’s chapter: WOMEN 6.42 – Supporting the shift to a more Sustainable, Reactive & Inclusive NOWSA
80 minutes left and it’s getting VERY confrontational on floor currently. A lot of aggression directed at the Libs by SAlt.
We’ve now moved on to the ATSI (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) policy chapter.
Well, things started out pretty positively but we have returned to factional warfare.
Speakers on ‘ATSI 8.16 – No More Cashless Welfare policy’ – strong speeches against the neo-paternalism of managing indigenous people’s spending.
Debating ‘ATSI 8.17 – Indigenous Engagement: Community’
Liberal speaker cannot be heard over chant: “RACIST, SEXIST, ANTI-QUEER! LIBERALS ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!”
Just mad scenes here.
Didn’t expect trimesters to come up again in ATSI policy! Seems to be a theme of this conference and will – assuming the policy is actually followed – feature heavily in campaigns over the next year.
Queer policy getting about 20 minutes :/
In all the chaos I forgot to sign off. After passing vast quantities of queer policy en bloc, conference floor finished up at midnight.