Guild Elections: Action Policy Analysis
By Roland Belford
Disclaimer: Roland ran under the ACTION ticket in 2014.
Here we go for round two of policy analysis, rules are the same as before, judging policy on how realist they are in my experience with student politics at Murdoch.
I am familiar with most of the Action candidates, I met their executive team of Troy, Brodie and Gavin in 2014 as Guild President as they were all active students in various clubs and Troy and Brodie ran for election as part of the same ticket with me last year. I met Lauren this year volunteering for WSEN, which she co-ordinated and have met Claudia and Rachel who have been very active getting Student for Refugees off the ground this year. Also David, their School Board nominee contacted The Guild this year to begin the petition about services at the library.
I would’ve liked to have written this earlier but Action took awhile to get their policy out there. Maybe something worth considering when you vote. I did find a flyer though today, so I’ll type the dot points in here and give my appraisal. The flyer has greater detail so if I talk about something not inferred in the bullet point, I’m referring to detail provided in their flyer.
- Get involved week
- Kick start Education Council
- Supporting Clubs and Societies
- Encouraging student led initiatives
Get involved week is the showpiece here, seems to involve week long activities and promotions to engage with new students. Sounds promising. Sounds like a lot of work but it’s just a bunch of forms for Room Bookings to deal with.
Kick starting Education Council is also something promised by TMNT. Action claim it hasn’t operated in 4 years but the truth is it’s probably been defunct for much longer. Education Council has a better chance of getting up next year no matter who wins though because there is finally a substantial number of students running for school board positions which is encouraging to see.
It was interesting that supporting clubs to obtain external commercial sponsorship came from the more leftwing of the two tickets. I really expected TMNT, with its card carrying Liberals, to come up with that idea but they’re pushing their voucher system instead. Anyway, bringing external sponsors on board would greatly assist a lot of clubs, finding appropriate sponsors is the hard bit. For example MESS (Murdoch Engineering Student Society) probably have a lot more opportunities to make industry links than say the Quidditch team. With some focus though, Action should be able to deliver this idea and it won’t require re-write of Guild procedures.
Encouraging student led initiatives sounds promising and inclusive. A cynic might say that such a statement could read as “we have no ideas” but I’ll take Action at face value and assume they will be open and helpful to students who want to start exciting things on campus. There are caveats though, a big one being that often students don’t have any good ideas. For example a student approached us this year about holding a 4th of July party for American Independence. This is a bad idea because the vast majority of American students are exchange students and only here during semester. They also came to us with their idea on the 2nd of July. That said, The Guild sometimes receives great ideas and I believe that truly engaging activities happen because they have groundswell and drive from the student body. That requires a self motivated and engaged campus atmosphere and that is the harder task.
Standing up for student rights
- No cuts, no fees, no corporate universities
- Cross subsidy of research and teaching
The first point is almost redundant now with deregulation off the agenda but it is nice to see a ticket come out and state their position on federal education policy. The second point is more interesting. It’s an open secret that almost all universities in Australia supplement their research budgets with the tuition fees of students. Convincing the university to open its books and show exactly how they redistribute money is a very big task. I think the students at ANU made some progress to this, but it’s a very big task and I doubt Murdoch will be comfortable with this. It may be as straightforward as the Senate and Academic Council asking which documents they can release to the public but even that doesn’t show the whole story.
Not much to say, Actions accountability policies are simple and achievable. No need to redraft Statute 17.
- Support Sustainability
Divestment from fossil fuels is an interesting issue. Right now the Guild holds no shares but we do deal with plenty of companies that could be seen as evil. Where do you draw the line? Is having a bank account with a bank that has in the past helped finance mining operations too evil to deal with? Action might say it is. The Guild has changed banks twice in the past two years though so it’s not difficult, it will keep the Finance Manager distracted for a few weeks though. As for making the university divest, see my above comments on cross subsidy of fees and university transparency. I spent a year on Senate and I’m not actually sure if Murdoch has any shares, fossils fuel or otherwise. Again ANU announced a partial divestment last year but I suspect all of Murdoch’s money is tied up in the St Ive’s retirement village.
- Assist student activism and awareness clubs on campus
- Collective rights
Much like TMNT, many of Action’s policies lack the procedural detail that outline exactly how they take shape. “Supporting the student activist clubs on campus” could look like funding the Free Syrian Army or it could look like getting the Students for Refugees in the same room as Oaktree and FossilFreeMurdoch. I expect Action will do the latter, which is fine.
Better Study Facilities
- Library and IT Services
The Action team includes two students, Brodie and David, who were heavily involved in petitioning the Library this year. Their policy statement seems to outline that they will continue to engage with the university on these issues and that’s good because I do know the university is slowly working on them.
In my opinion, Actions policies are more firmly grounded in reality than TMNT’s, although Dean Wicken might prefer the language “less ambitious”. I thought Action might’ve bragged more about Troy and Lauren organising an international sustainability conference on campus this year, but like their policy they seem more down to Earth. A few areas could probably do with greater detail and clarity. The lack of event ideas is also a notable omission but I can almost predict their replies will be along the lines of fostering and promoting club led events.
There you have it. If there is demand, I’ll try to scape together some thoughts on the independent candidates. The comments are open.