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Undergrad & Postgrad Senate results to be challenged in Supreme Court

Astha Rajvanshi reports.

Undergraduate Senate Fellow candidates Patrick Massarani and Annabel Osborn will challenge the results of the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Senate election in the NSW Supreme Court.

This comes after the Returning Officer for the Sydney University Senate Fellow elections refused an appeal made by Massarani and Osborn that alleged an inconsistent application of the official electoral guidelines.

“Senate elections must be conducted by means of secret ballot, candidates and their supporters must not be physically near a voter when that voter lodges his or her vote,” the guidelines, issued by Secretary to Senate David Pacey, stated.

On October 31, Senate Fellow-elect Dalton Fogarty published a statement on Facebook that read:

“After my successful election to the University of Sydney Senate, a candidate lodged an appeal making slanderous claims about my behaviour. I am happy to say that this appeal has been overturned by the Returning Officer, confirming that these claims were entirely false.

My interests are to improve the University of Sydney for students and staff alike. I refuse to pay feeble games of intimidation and character-assassination. I would like to take this occasion to again thank all those who supported me in my bid for Senate.”

Massarani and Osborn previously told Honi if the appeal were to fail they would consider further legal action. Massarani has confirmed the pair will be pursuing the matter further in the Supreme Court of NSW.

“We will be seeking a prerogative writ in the Supreme Court of NSW in the effect of directing the Returning Officer to conduct a fresh election in accordance with the Statutes of the University,” he said. “We have it on exceptionally good advice that we were on soundly good grounds. Using laptops is wholly incompatible with the electoral regulations.”

Fogarty told Honi that he wasn’t brought in on the appeals process and is happy about the subsequent result.

“I just think that I did everything right,” he said.

“I agree with the appeal [being quashed], and beyond that I do think that it is a win for students who don’t want to engage with messy politics.”

Fogarty claimed 1,516 votes of the total 2,868 cast in the election and would proceed to be the Undergraduate Senate Student Fellow in 2015-2016.

Update: Honi understands Patrick Massarani will soon announce that he plans to vacate the position on 1 December and will move to support Annabel Osborn in any supplementary elections.