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Labor to Catapult Liberals onto SRC Executive

Tim Asimakis reports on backroom dealings.

Tim Asimakis reports on backroom dealings.

Sources from USyd’s stupol scene have reported that a deal has been struck between campus Labor and Liberal factions in advance of the executive elections for the 2016 USyd SRC. The deal could see Labor catapult members of the Liberal party onto the executive of the SRC for the first time in five years.

The move, described as 2015’s “worst kept secret” by one source, comes in stark contrast to the campaigns of many Labor factions, who all branded themselves as unashamedly left wing during the most recent SRC election.

While the exact terms of the deal remain unclear, Honi understands that it would likely see Liberal Party member David Hogan filling one of the SRC’s two Vice Presidencies, while Liam Garman (also a Liberal Party member) would become the frontrunner for Chair of the Standing Legal Committee. One of the welfare officer positions would also be reserved for the Liberals.

If this transpires, Hogan would be the first Liberal on the executive since Chad Sidler was elected General Secretary in 2011. Hogan was approached for comment, but was “too busy” to deny that a deal had been struck or to offer any response at all.

Garman, who was elected on an independent ticket and does not caucus with the other three Liberal councillors, professed ignorance of such a deal but suggested that he would be willing to work with the Labor factions as they were the “most right wing” of all of the non-Liberal groups elected to the SRC.

In exchange for the spots, Honi has received indications that Labor would likely have the votes to dominate the remaining portfolios. Members of Unity are being touted to fill both General Secretary vacancies, along with the second Vice Presidency, while SLS would be delivered the education portfolio.

Furthermore, the deal could possibly see Dimitry Palmer (Liberal), who was USyd’s last elected delegate to the National Union of Students for 2016, effectively hand over his position to Unity. Honi cannot currently confirm if this would require him to resign his position—making way for Unity’s Alisha Aitken-Radburn, who was the next most popular candidate—or if he would simply vote in accordance with Unity’s demands.

The NUS deal would reportedly help secure Robby Magyar’s (Unity) spot as NUS General Secretary.

The Liberal-Labor deal would supersede the one revealed by Honi in advance of the general SRC elections, which had been struck between Labor and Grassroots. Under the former deal (apparently not worth the ink it was signed with), Grassroots would have received one half of the Vice Presidency and General Secretary positions, as well as the education portfolio. It now appears that all of these positions will be split between the Liberal and Labor party faithful.

Speaking to Honi, Grassroots General Secretary candidate Georgia Mantle expressed her concerns: “It’s disappointing that Labor would forfeit important, paid positions to the Liberals, who have an in principle opposition to programs that are vital for vulnerable students. It is entirely possible that this deal will create an attitude in the Council conducive to the defunding of student collectives, and the possible removal of essential or specialist support services.”

Mantle, an Indigenous wom*n and the SRC’s current Indigenous officer went on to say that “it is disgusting that Labor would agree to giving the Liberals positions considering that they supported removing Acknowledgements of Country from Council in the past”.

The SRC’s Wom*n’s Officer, Subeta Vimalarajah, added her voice to the detractors: “As collective autonomy is not enshrined, it is possible that our chosen office bearers could be ignored by the new councillors. Labor did this with Environment Officer last year, so it’s not a stretch to say that their new friendship with the Liberals will not stop short of stealing positions like Wom*n’s Officer, Indigenous Officer and Ethnocultural Officer that have traditionally been decided by collectives.”

Members of Labor’s stupol elite were approached for comment, but would not respond to Honi’s requests or deny that a deal had been brokered.