Tara Waniganayaka (Indies) is the new President of the University of Sydney Union (USU), beating out Robby Magyar (Unity – Labor Right) and Tim Matthews (Indies) in a tightly contested election on Wednesday night.
Bebe D’Souza (Grassroots), Magyar, and Eve Radunz (NLS – Labor Left) were all elected unopposed to the positions of Vice President, Honorary Secretary, and Honorary Treasurer respectively.
“I’m excited to sit down with the Board and work out a vision for 2014-2015, keeping in mind the interests and values of our members, and moving to wider engagement of students,” said Waniganayaka. “I’m also looking forward to working with a strong and progressive Executive throughout what will hopefully be a productive and fantastic year.”
The executive positions are decided by the votes of the thirteen Board Directors. Of the three Presidential candidates, Waniganayaka got six votes in the initial count, Magyar four, and Matthews three. As no-one had achieved a majority of seven, Matthews was knocked out of contention and his three votes redistributed. All three preferenced Waniganayaka second, giving her the victory over Magyar. The margin of nine votes to four means the result would be unchanged had Senate-appointed Directors Simone Whetton and Emma McDonald elected not to vote.
“Personally I believe the Senate-Appointed Directors would work best in an advisory rather than a decision-making capacity. The Board made an informal consensus-based decision well before the executive election to formally request (via the President Hannah Morris and Vice-President Tom Raue) the Senate-Appointed Directors to refrain from voting, referencing reasons of student control,” said Waniganayaka.
“The Board and Executive, alongside members and the Senate-Appointed Directors, will be conducting a review evaluating their role and existence within the Union, and in the interim we will continue to work productively with them.”
Magyar was disappointed by the result, but said as it was “apparently made by a student majority I accept it.”
“However, I believe this Union deserves more than the cycle of wheeling and dealing that goes on behind closed doors; it deserves more than ambitious Directors throwing down deals for future elections to anyone that will take them,” he said.
The ballot was confidential, and some of the Directors we got in contact with were particularly cagey about who they voted for. As such, it’s impossible to determine exactly who voted for whom. However, this is what we reckon:
Magyar’s bloc of four was likely made up of NLS (Labor Left) members Eve Radunz and Kate Bullen, fellow Unity member Alisha Aitken-Radburn, and himself. Aitken-Radburn has previously indicated to Honi Soit that she would vote for Magyar, who is from the same faction and who managed her board campaign. Meanwhile, NLS and Unity have been rebuilding the camaraderie lost during last year’s acrimonious SRC elections, with Aitken-Radburn giving Bullen a very favourable preference deal during the campaign.
Matthews’s three votes were likely fellow Indies Liv Ronan and Kade Denton, and himself. Matthews managed Ronan’s board campaign, and in an interview with Honi Soit stated she was leaning towards voting for Matthews. Matthews and Denton were the only two Directors from the 2013 batch to vote for Raue’s dismissal earlier this year.
If these two blocs are correct, Waniganayaka’s group of six must have been made up of fellow Indie Liam Carrigan, Grassroots members Bebe D’Souza and Ed McMahon, Senate-appointed Directors Whetton and McDonald, and herself. When Matthews was eliminated, his vote (along with Ronan and Denton’s) flowed on to Waniganayaka, giving her a final count of nine.