Updating you on all the excitement of Day 2 of the National Union of Students annual National Conference. Please send me questions through Twitter on @OpusMagazine or email them to tim@opus.org.au. You can follow the #nusnatcon hashtag on Twitter for more information, and follow along what exactly is being debated with these proposed policy documents.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:00 am

Welcome back, floor started about 15 minutes ago. This floor session is starting with welfare policy.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:02 am

That block (in part dealing with ‘WEL 5.23 – 100% Pay at 18’) was passed.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:03 am

Moving onto another block of welfare policies: 5.7, 5.18, 5.29, 5.35, 5.36, 5.38, and 5.51

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:05 am

Moving onto another block of welfare policies: 5.7, 5.18, 5.29, 5.35, 5.36, 5.38, and 5.51

This is largely regarding access to mental health services for students.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:09 am

No one has yet spoken against this block.

Current speaker criticising NLS for lobbying approach again, citing Monash tactics of wide scale public campaign.

Block passed.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:10 am

Now moving to block of 5.1, 5.4, 5.5, 5.12, 5.16, 5.26, and 5.27

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:14 am

Block carried.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:48 am

I’ve found myself mostly just trying to keep track of what was being debated so I’ve started tweeting the numbers and outcome of policy blocs on @itweetblocs. You’ll see it popping up in the nusnatcon feed with links to the policy documents to provide some metadata for the debate. I will still be posting here, including answering any of your questions!

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:55 am

We’re now into a pretty vicious back and forth of office bearers accusing each other of doing nothing (Welfare Office vs. a Queer Officer)

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:57 am

Now debating ‘WEL 5.32 – Safe Pill Consumption’ – now we’re getting a bit more interesting. Speaker from NLS in support.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20164:59 am

Speaker from University of Melbourne says that University administration is getting in the way of pill-testing initiative.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:01 am

We now have a SAlt speaker speaking not against the motion but just against Unity. Par for the course.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:13 am

Currently debating ‘WEL 5.33 – What’s Next Campaign’ which is about NUS providing support to campus unions in assisting students to transition to the workforce.

SAlt speaker currently pointing out that career services are being *cut* at the moment, calling for activism (again).

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:15 am

We have a speaker against! NLS member opposing on the basis that NUS doesn’t have much money, and that the universities should be providing services, not NUS.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:16 am

Unity speaker points out that if universities aren’t providing a service, unions can step in, help students, and get more funding for it as a result.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:28 am
Heated debate about a cookbook… (WEL 5.22)
Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:30 am

Just adding a bunch of motions to be debated.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:31 am

CURRENT MOTION: WEL 5.57 – Oppose cuts to student welfare and fight student poverty
DOCUMENT: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5pOD0J5PxYhLUxlc2hyN2plYjg/view

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:32 am

SAlt member just called Unity “fuckheads”, Unity responds with chant of “GEEET EL-EC-TED” : |

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:37 am

Just announced: conference floor has lost quorum (i.e. the number of delegates *and* votes required to be present in order to make binding decisions).

Apparently we have 30 minutes to get it back and we can continue, at least with speakers, in the meantime.
Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:43 am

CURRENT MOTION: WEL 5.2 – Study Support out of Class and the Impact of Strike Action
DOCUMENT: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5pOD0J5PxYhLUxlc2hyN2plYjg/view

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:46 am

This motion is about working to establish Peer-Assisted Study Sessions on campuses, but specifically (in the title no less) cites strike action as the motivator. SAlt not happy about that, viewing it as a strike-busting policy of a kind. SAlt is now chanting “SCAB, SCAB, SCAB”. The chair names SAlt member Sarah Garnham for a second time.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:47 am

Hard to make out the current speakers words over interjections from SAlt. Chair warning Garnham not to make him name her again (3 namings = expulsion).

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:55 am

Sarah Garnham of SAlt, named a third time and so to be expelled from conference. We seem to have a slight standoff here. Garnham refusing to leave and the chair is refusing to proceed until she does.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:56 am

The standoff continues.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20165:57 am

SAlt now chanting “March 22” – the date of the National Day of Action protest that they frequently call upon NUS to ‘build’.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20166:02 am

“Am I ever gonna see your face again” plays over the speakers, complete with “fuck off” chanting from Unity.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20166:04 am

Enough delegates have wandered off now that quorum has been lost, starting the 30 minute timer again.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20166:22 am

Sarah Garnham has removed herself from conference floor and will not return until the 5:30pm which seems to be hardly worth the ban.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20166:26 am

We’re back to debate!

Tim Chaston December 13, 20166:26 am

The chair just doing some procedurals to add motions for debate: “You have to hold your lanyard up and you have to know how you’re voting.” Indeed.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20166:36 am

Currently a speaker in favour of WEL 5.6 – We Like to Party! We Like, We Like to Party!

Talking about the lack of evidence-based policies in drug enforcement, particularly ‘drug-driving’ tests which can detect cannabis in trace levels from weeks ago, resulting in disproportionate penalty for quantities that cannot possibly cause impairment.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20166:38 am

Unity member speaking against ‘WEL 5.41 – Smokers left out in the cold’ – ‘Why should SSAF money be used in a low-key endorsement of smoking?’

Tim Chaston December 13, 20166:55 am

National Welfare Officer Robbie Maygar delivers a pretty brutal assessment (with exceptions) of National Office Bearers, and implores next years office bearers to “do something”.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20167:11 am

Heated debate over the current bloc (4.3, 4.15, 4.16) with SAlt claiming that campaigning to put lectures online is a ‘scab policy’.

Other factions hit back that SAlt doesn’t care about students with disability/children/work.

SAlt claims that the problem, then, is our society, and that we shouldn’t be choosing between throwing academics under a bus or students with disabilities.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20167:42 am

After plenty of passionate speakers conference floor has passed ‘ED 4.39 – Education Campaign in 2017’.

Floor is now closed and heading off to dinner.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20169:46 am

Accreditation (that is, picking up slips certifying your votes) has opened but the conference floor is looking pretty sparse. Doesn’t look like we’ll be kicking off for maybe another half an hour.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201611:07 am

Currently debating a motion to pass policies 4.21 and 4.23 en bloc, which are concerning unpaid internships.

On one side, there’s the claim that unpaid internships advantage those who don’t have to work, displace paid workers, and often offer no educational value.

On the other side, some say that banning unpaid internships *for course credit* would simply exacerbate the problem for the time-poor and that not all internships should be tarred with the same brush.

The motion was carried.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201611:26 am

Currently debating en bloc the policies 4.4, 4.24, and 4.29. These policies relate to TAFE.

One side says ‘maybe start with activating uni students first’, but a delegate quickly responds that RMIT includes TAFE students in it’s members – note that this is why RMIT has such huge student numbers and consequently such a large number of votes per delegate on conference floor.

The motion was carried.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201611:31 am

Debating 4.31, 4.35, and 4.38 en bloc. Broadly about campaigns and engagement around the NDA and continuing the campaign against deregulation of university fees.


Tim Chaston December 13, 201611:37 am

Debating 4.10 – a motion about reaching out to students in TAFE and vocational education, as well as secondary education.


Tim Chaston December 13, 201611:43 am

Floor currently debating ‘ED 4.19 – Linking Campus Restructure Campaigns on a National Level Preamble’

Seconder speaking, characterising trimesters (among other campus ‘restructures’) as one of the greatest attacks on universities. Expressing disgust with Student Unity’s support of trimesters and apparently donuts.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201611:46 am

SU member now attracting a fair bit of heckling (from SAlt of course) with the position that trimesters aren’t necessarily bad or restructures generally.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201611:51 am

Floor just voted to restrict all remaining education policy debate to one speaker for, one against. Not exactly ideal democracy.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201612:27 pm

Currently debating ‘ED 4.34 – Working with the NTEU on Lecture Recordings’.

We’re back on the subject of lecture recordings.

Socialist Alternative section of the floor not short on heckling, mostly ‘SCAB’.

The issue here is that academics (as represented by the National Tertiary Education Union) have concerns about recordings of lectures being used against them, as well as reducing face-to-face hours to the detriment of academics and students.

At the same time students with disabilities, children, working students, etc. benefit greatly from being able to view lectures at a time of their choosing.

The motion failed with Student Unity and Socialist Alternative voting against, presumably for different reasons.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201612:42 pm

Currently debating ‘ED 4.51 – Oppose the FlexAP restructure at Melbourne Uni’

Melbourne Uni student say’s FlexAP (Flexible Academic Programming) is just a sneaky way of cutting face-to-face hours.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201612:44 pm

NLS student says the ‘FAP’ lives up to it’s name: “in fact it may be an even bigger circle-jerk than Student Unity”

Tim Chaston December 13, 201612:47 pm

Someone just linked me to a master organisational spreadsheet that had so far escaped my attention: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e1L6c34SjqrKNyYgOSEZza7BuRrqQquKLmhSpQj33ks/editgid=83216103

Check it out, be sure to click through the tabs at the bottom.

Tim Chaston December 13, 201612:53 pm

We’ve now moved on to a Motion From The Floor about developments in the last few hours on the UWA Arts Union election (this came up earlier in the day).

Tim Chaston December 13, 201612:54 pm

Apparently a disqualification in that election was determined to be unfair, SAlt very happy about this news.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:04 pm

The motions are moving fast but the debate is metaphorically slow.

Currently debating ‘ED 4.32 – Assisting Student Organisation in their funding’

Pragmatism regarding SSAF from other factions, demands to restore Universal Student Union from SAlt.

Motion carried, bringing an end to the Eduction section!

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:10 pm

Moving on to international student policy.

Motion from business committee to discuss 9.2, 9.3, and 9.4 en bloc was just lost on voices, which is a little weird.

Since BizComm (as it is known) has the same makeup as the conference floor, it should just be a formality to approve their motions for discussion, unless one faction is low on numbers or factions the members on BizComm are at odds with faction members on floor…

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:17 pm

Moving on to international student policy.

Motion from business committee to discuss 9.2, 9.3, and 9.4 en bloc was just lost on voices, which is a little weird.

Since BizComm (as it is known) has the same makeup as the conference floor, it should just be a formality to approve their motions for discussion, unless a faction’s members have wandered off or the faction members on BizComm are at odds with faction members on floor…

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:24 pm

Moving now to the Disabilities chapter: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5pOD0J5PxYhZXZWTi1KQTA2Y1E/view

Currently motions being put by the chair to amend various action points in this chapter.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:32 pm

Some good speeches and mostly respectful behaviour in this section which is nice to see. No one speaking against this bloc of 10.1 and 10.2.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:42 pm

Currently debating policy 10.8 which deals with the concept of ‘inherent requirements’. Speakers explain that ‘inherent requirements’ are the learning outcomes of a course stripped of the details of how they are practically demonstrated.

An inflammatory (aren’t they all) speech by a SAlt member points out that 10.8 is actually about content warnings which they characterise as “fucking garbage”, telling delegates to “grow the fuck up”.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:45 pm

Quorum has been lost, starting a 30 minute countdown to regain it. Speakers may continue, but no votes may be taken until quorum is regained. It appears Socialist Alternative may be agitating to leave.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:46 pm

One of the movers has returned to lectern to defend their motion saying that the adjustments are specified to be ‘reasonable’.

Tim Chaston December 13, 20161:47 pm

A nice shouting match on floor, and SAlt has up and left, making quorum impossible to regain.

Conference floor closed at 12:47am.