Presidents Report: The growth of the Palmer United Party

The growth of the Palmer United Party

The projections of the WA senate election on Saturday demonstrate a swing towards the Greens, and Palmer United Party with 6.7, and 7 per cent respectively. While the majority parties received a swing against them, a 5.6 per cent swing against Labor, and a 5 per cent swing against the Liberal.

But why are people voting in such mass?

The Palmer United Party is the newest venture from Clive Palmer, a former Liberal Party remember and owner of mineralogy. Clive Palmer’s net worth is estimated at $895, with iron ore, nickel, and coal holdings.
Palmer spent big on the WA senate election mainly on television ads, and the biggest question now is whether the Palmer United Party’s success can be attributed to the money spent, or the policy?

The Palmer United Party’s policies are an interesting combination of social progression and economically and environmentally conservative.

Party officials should not be lobbyists, thereby taking a strong position on paid political lobbyists, saving tax payers dollars and introducing fair policies.

  • Abolish the carbon tax
  • Revising the current Australian government refugee policy to ensure Australia is protected and refugees are given opportunities for a better future and lifestyle
  • Creating mineral wealth to continuously contribute to the welfare of the Australian community.
  • Establishing a system where people create wealth in various parts of the country and for that wealth to flow back to the community that generates the wealth. For example, if a particular region creates wealth, a significant percentage of that wealth should go back to the region.
  • Closing down detention centres for asylum-seeker boat arrivals
  • Moving towards free trade and closer economic relations with Asia.
  • Decentralisation and regional self-government, such as a new North Queensland state.
  • Encouraging competitive markets by restricting monopoly and prohibiting unfair trading practices.
  • Abolish higher education fees.

Minority Parties are increasing their primary votes which was seen particularly in the Federal Parliament.

Mariana Podestá-Diverio thinks sports is cool but please don’t stop reading at this sentence. Also, citrus.

The management of Sydney University Sport and Fitness (SUSF) are gluttonous corporate scumbags and it disgusts me that their organisation is the recipient of the largest amount of SSAF money every year.

SSAF, as many of you know, is a fee you pay or defer at the start of every academic year. This money gets distributed to the different student organisations around campus, including the SRC, SUPRA (postgrad) and the USU among others. I’ve rambled about this a lot, but it bears repeating. The SRC, who publishes this newspaper, provides a free legal and casework service funded by your SSAF money. This is how we give back to students. Even the USU is accessible, despite the requirement of an Access card to get discounts. They provide an extensive social program and there’s something for everyone. Sure, the term “Funch” for their “fun at lunch” program is seriously misguided and downright absurd, but it’s so ridiculous you’ve got to give them some comic credit, those scamps.

SUSF, however, gets millions of dollars of student money every year and doesn’t give anything back. Memberships cost $60 per year, but you have to buy an additional gym pass on top of this in order to access facilities. These come at different ‘bronze’, ‘silver’, and ‘gold’ levels, and cost several hundreds of dollars per year. I came to this horrid realisation in second year, having purchased an SUSF membership in order to participate in the Canoe Club’s activities (they were better days, yes), only to find out that my card literally got me nothing else.

Why does SUSF get so much money? Because it looks good when our university produces athletes that compete on an international stage. It’s bloody good marketing. I’m not saying people shouldn’t receive funding for their athletic pursuits, but these pursuits should be funded directly by the university or purely though SUSF’s commercial operations. SSAF money should be for student organisations only, and calling SUSF a student organisation is a farce.

Boycott SUSF. Go to Victoria Park gym instead if you want to go to a gym. Or abstain from travelling with anything with a motor and buy some hand weights. SUSF is Satan.

On a lighter note: mandarin season is around the corner. Remember that the best way to tell if a mandarin will be delicious is by piercing the fleshy north pole bit ever so slightly with your thumbnail and raising it to your nostrils for a whiff.

Prosperity, comrades, and purity. Till next we speak.

Education Officers’ Report

Sydney University management is prosecuting a student for supporting staff strikes in 2013. The student received a letter earlier this month warning of a possible one semester suspension if they did not respond
to accusations of misconduct.

Management alleges that during the 48-hour strike in March last year, the student made chalk markings on a wall (contrary to the university’s advertising policy), pushed and stole the cap of a NSW police officer, was arrested on campus and then returned the following day after being issued with a ban.

It will set a dangerous precedent should the student be disciplined. There are a number of reasons the charges should be rejected.

First, the notion that students could face a semester long suspension for chalking on a wall is ridiculous. Hundreds of students every year advertise in this way on campus without receiving any form of punishment, which suggests there are alternative political motives driving this allegation.

Second, the allegations referring to misconduct relating to the police are also a political power play. Cops have no place on campus, and were used during the strikes to break picket lines and allow scabs to enter the campus. The police were actually the instigators of violence throughout seven strike days last year.

Finally, the student is being prosecuted for contravening a notice issued for the university at which they are studying. These notices were used repeatedly by management to weaken the picket lines and undermine the strike. The notices are arbitrary – there was no formal warning or any opportunity to challenge the notice.

By prosecuting one student for supporting the staff in their demand for better wages and conditions, the administration hopes to deter others from offering similar solidarity in the future.

The NTEU is currently taking industrial action on a number of campuses across the country as part of EBA negotiations. We support student solidarity actions with the staff and reject the presence of police on campus during this process.

The Education Department of the SRC stands in full solidarity with all students facing disciplinary actions as a result of the 2013 staff strikes, whether it be legal cases, prosecution by management or the continuing campus bans.

Ridah Hassan and Eleanor Morley

Wom*n of Colour Autonomous Collective Conveners’ Report

Though we are a relatively new and small collective, this autonomous space has proved to be positive and liberating for those of us who constantly have to negotiate between issues of race and gender. This is a space for those of us whose feminism and race are necessary parts of our identity. For those of us who – at some point – have been forced to choose between one of these sides and realised that we cannot.
This is a safe space for those of us, who have been victims of various systems of patriarchy, colonialism and whiteness. For those of us
whose experiences are marked by unique conflicts and challenges.

For those who have been made to feel different, alienated, stereotyped, fetishized, ashamed, Orientalised, invisible, commodified, patronised and/or tokenised, because of who we are. The creation of this space allows us to reclaim our individual identities and find solidarity.It also allows exploring, validation and a celebration of our intersecting identities. It is difficult to find networks where one can explore such complex identity issues, but this collective was set up because we deserve to be heard and we deserve to take up space in this world, and should not be made to feel otherwise.

It’s set to be an exciting year ahead, with our first event occurring on the 25th of April at the Newsagency in Marrickville. If you identify as a wom*n of colour, please join us for our good vibes dance party! It would be amazing to see so many inspiring wom*n of colour in the same place! We’ll be providing more details as the date approaches.

You can keep up with events on the ‘Usyd WOC Autonomous Collective’ Facebook page, and follow us on Tumblr at http://womenofcoloursydney.tumblr.com

Shareeka Helaluddin and Tabitha Prado-Richardson

Mature Age Officers Report: Australian democracy on display as riot police facilitate the forced transfer of asylum seekers.

There can be no more gratifying sight for mature age students than seeing hundreds of youngsters participating in activism and protesting for their rights.  It is often said that this generation is apathetic, more focused on the brand of beer than the human rights of the marginalized, or the quality of our own education system.  And while not every student participated in the national day of action on March 26, a strong contingent did so, despite Wuthering Heights-inspired weather.

On top of the hundreds that protested, more were supportive from the sidelines, clapping and cheering as we marched past.  And many more would have come except they had work – which is a feature of modern university life, as so many students have to juggle with study in order to make up for the abysmal welfare system.

But student activism has always been at its best when it focuses not only on campus issues, but on questions of broader social justice.  On that note, we show full solidarity to the refugees on hunger strike in Villawood Detention Centre, and the protesters who have attempted to picket the camp and prevent their removal to Curtin Detention Centre (400kms from anywhere) twice now.

As mature age reps we are old enough to recall with fondness the time when detention centres were being torn down, both by refugees inside and their supporters on the outside.  Were such events to happen again we would be very, very supportive.  Though we want to make it clear that we’re not inciting that kind of behaviour, which would be truly shocking to any law abiding citizen.

Speaking of law abiding citizens, how about the NSW government’s attempt to destroy the lives of working class people living in the public housing at Miller’s Point?  The tories want to socially cleanse the inner city, and replace the precious public housing with luxury apartments for yuppies.  We have spoken to a few mature age students who currently live in the housing, and have attended two demonstrations against the sell-off.
The most hopeful aspect of the campaign so far is that Paul MacAleer of the Maritime Union has threatened to introduce Green Bans to save the properties.  We hope he’s prepared to follow through, because when the BLF did it in the 70s it was fucking cool.  Look it up, it’s worth it.

Yours for the Revolution,
Omar H, Kay D, and James C.

Queer Officers Report: Semester 1, 2014: the year in queer

We started the year with a successful float in Mardi Gras, which was organised by queers from universities across NSW and available to queers across Australia. Students and allies, including many from USyd, had the chance to march, many for the first time.

We created a buddy system to introduce new queer or questioning people to the collective. As a result there are a lot of fresh faces at collective meetings, creating an awesome space to share ideas
and skills.

Members of the queer collective also participated in a pink bloc at the recent National Day of Action (NDA) against the Liberal government’s cuts to higher education. Such blocs serve to make broader political actions relevant to minority groups. As queers, we formed our pink bloc- identifying ourselves with pink triangles- to highlight the importance of a fully funded education for those who experience systemic oppressions on the basis of their gender identity and sexuality. Courses such as gender studies and services such as counselling are two examples of things that are important for queers at uni and threatened by consistent cuts to our education. We had students from all over NSW contribute to the bloc, which made it very successful.

Be sure to look out for many more pink blocs throughout the year.

At the campus level, the collective has learned of an issue involving the names used on the Blackboard eLearning discussion boards. As it currently stands, people are required to post content under their legal name/name at enrolment. For trans* students in particular, this can mean outing yourself to classmates.

This discourages participation in online education from queer students. We’re building a campaign to try and change this. To get involved, come to a meeting (1pm
on Tuesdays in the Queerspace), or indicate your interest on the (secret) collective Facebook page – if you haven’t been added yet, get in contact (queer.officers@src.usyd.edu.au) and we’ll rectify this immediately!
Sadly, this is the last queer report that Honi will permit us this semester, but look out for more next semester. In the meantime, the autonomous group for queer non-cis men called “Queerkats”, which meets on Thursdays at 1pm in the Queerspace, will be occupying the Wom*n’s Officers’ report at points later on in semester. Thanks to the Wom*n’s Officers for sharing their weekly space.

David Shakes, Holly Parrington, Edward McMahon and Elsa Kohane discuss Semester 1, 2014: the year in queer.

ASK ABE: Special Consideration and DNF

Hi Abe,
I had an absolutely shocking time last semester and failed every subject I attempted. I have previously had an excellent record, but had a lot of family problems last semester. Is there any way that I can have last semester wiped off my record so my bad marks don’t spoil my record?

DS

——-

Dear DS,
If you had a serious illness or misadventure (your family problems may be described as this) that was out of your control, became worse after deadline for DNF (end of week 7) and seriously affected your ability to study, you can apply to have those fails or absent fails changed to DNF (Discontinue Not Fail) grades. You will need to be able to explain how your illness or misadventure affected your study. Naturally you will need documentation from a doctor or counsellor, a community leader or someone else who knows about the issues your family have been dealing with. Remember that this is not just a method to “clean up” your transcript, but rather for students who have not had a genuine opportunity to demonstrate their competency in the subject.

You may also consider talking to an SRC caseworker about having your HECS/fees refunded. The deadline for applying for a fee refund if you are a local students is 12 months, but it’s so easy to forget that you’d be better off dealing with that straight away too. Fee refunds for international students have only recently been changed by law. Talk to SRC HELP for more information.

Abe.
——-
Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog. This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything. This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world. Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au. Abe’s answers can provide you excellent insight.

Your Appeal and Assessment Rights

As a University of Sydney student you have many assessment rights. Policies entitle all students to full information about course goals and requirements and this information must be given to you before the end of the first week of a course. Information you are entitled to includes:

  • assessment criteria
  • attendance and class requirements
  • weighting – breakdown and calculation of assessment marks
  • explanation of policies regarding ‘legitimate co-operation, plagiarism and cheating’, special consideration and academic
    appeals procedures
  • early and clear statement of sanctions and penalties that may bring your mark down, and fair application of these penalties
    balanced and relevant assessment tasks
  • fair and consistent assessment with appropriate workloads and deadlines
  • written consultation before the halfway point of the unit if assessment requirements need to change
  • changes must not disadvantage students
  • adequate arrangements to cater for disabilities and other requirements
  • access to staff out of class time at reasonable hours
  • fair and relevant marking procedures
  • anonymous posting of results (or arguably de-identified at least)
  • timely return of assessments
  • helpful feedback
  • access to exams up to four months after the result
  • the right to appeal up to three months after an academic decision enough time for remedial learning when there is reassessment

Appeals – University Procedures

If you believe a mark or University decision is wrong and you want to appeal you must lodge an appeal within 15 working days.
The first step is to talk to the person who made the decision – often your lecturer or subject co-ordinator. See if you can go through the assessment and discuss your performance with them. Make sure you know how the mark was worked out – including any scaling or marks deducted or changed for reasons not directly related to that particular assessment. This may mean attending an exam review session or making an appointment with your lecturer. Your questions and concerns may be resolved at this stage, helping you understand how you can improve in the future. Alternatively, you may feel the matter is still unresolved and wish to continue with your appeal.

Make your appeal in writing and make sure it is easy for other people to understand

  • Listen to or read staff comments and reasons for a decision closely. Keep these in mind when you write your appeal letter.
  • Base an appeal on a process matter rather than an academic judgement.
  • Know your desired outcome
  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant policies
  • Know who you are appealing to Lecturer/Unit of study Coordinator; someone higher in the appeal chain within the Faculty; and then the University Student Appeals Body (Academic decisions only, and only where there has been a breach of process); You must be given reasons for each person’s decision.
  • If you cannot resolve appeals internally, you may be able to approach external bodies eg. NSW Ombudsman, the Anti-Discrimination Board etc.
  • Administrative decisions made outside of the Faculty have appeals to different people.
  • Speak to the SRC for advice.

Your Appeal Rights

According to University policy, appeals should be dealt with:

  • in a timely manner
  • with confidence
  • impartially and not disadvantage you in
  • the future
  • procedural fairness
  • free access to all documents concerning your appeal

For help drafting your appeal
talk to an SRC caseworker.
help@src.usyd.edu.au | 9660 5222

Knights & Dames ?? What about a quality education system!

Here Ye Here Ye, the phrase that captured a nation this week as Senator Sam Dastyari pointed out the ridiculousness of our dear Prime Minister’s announcement of reintroducing the honor of Knights and Dames of the Order of Australia. Now I know that Tony Abbott has his loved views of the monarchy and lets face it what was once an energetic republican movement is not center stage at the moment, but seriously what was Tony Abbott thinking!!!

What was most hilarious about the whole situation is that he decided he would keep his announcement as a surprise to his colleagues. Particularly Joe Hockey and Malcolm Turnbull who are both republicans and played major roles in the movement during the 1999 referendum.

While this story was taking the front page of newspapers this week, the real issues facing Australian’s were yet again forgotten about. Dastyari captured the irrelevance and disappointment of Tony Abbott’s announcement in a nutshell. The story has taken off through all media avenues, maybe because Australian’s are finally seeing the outdated, out of touch and uncaring actions of the Abbott Government. “Barking Mad: the Abbott nobility” writes Mark Carlton, “The Queens Guard” writes Sophie Morris, this is an issue so comical that the Media won’t even side with Abbott.

Last Wednesday was finally the day of the National Day of Action, the “Abbott and Pyne, Hands of our Education” campaign went National as students across the countries’ main cities marched to save high quality, affordable and accessible education. Sydney’s march went on despite the rain and gathered quite a good crowd.

However the news was still very pre-occupied by Abbotts return of Knights and Dames announcement. Too bad Abbott doesn’t spend the same amount of time trying to improve the Education and Healthcare systems in this country, as he does sucking up to the Queen.

All the best with your week and I’ll check in again same place, same time next week.

James Leeder thinks we should have more discussions, both positive and critical, around SSAF.

This past Wednesday marked the National Day of Action (NDA) against higher education cuts, organised by the National Union of Students (NUS). It also marked one of the rare moments of collaboration between the SRC and the University of Sydney Union (USU), with a clubs carnival being organised before the rally. The USU and SRC came together because both organisations rely on and believe in the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), which is a fee levied on all students each semester.

Many of you who read this paper regularly will be familiar with SSAF and the controversy surrounding it, particularly the division between student organisations. It should be noted that despite the difficulties we have at USyd, we have been the consistent winner of NUS’ surveys regarding student life and SSAF implementation, and compared with other universities who are reluctant to give students control of their money Sydney is doing well.

However, as Sydney is the national standard we should seek to show other universities how SSAF can be best utilised and to do that we should redress current problems. For instance, much of SSAF remains tied up in inaccessible or prohibitively expensive ventures such as scholarships and gyms. The implementation of SSAF is also a very nebulous process. Aside from colourful Excel pie graphs on the university’s website, it is difficult to find out how the money is actually being used. The SRC rectifies this by voting on the budget annually; any student is able to attend the budget council meeting and learn about how their money is being used. Further, at the last council meeting the SRC passed a motion with regards to how it believes the SSAF should be used. It argued that the SSAF should be accessible, accountable, and with a core focus on student welfare.

As this year’s Union Board elections approach, I hope we hear more regarding the Union and its use of SSAF. As first years will soon discover, a typical union board campaign is awash with impossible promises and quickly becomes focused on the number of new bars each candidate proposes, or on which new exciting frozen dessert store might open a shop on campus. Rather than false promises, I hope this year we see elections that are not solely focused on food and drink, but on how we can make our student organisations more accessible.

As we reflect on the NDA, further actions and upcoming elections, I hope we can engage in more discussion around how we see SSAF being used now, in the future, and how we can make sure student money is controlled by students.