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NUS NatCon live blog

Follow the drama of the National Union of Students’ annual NatCon in Melbourne. Tweet your questions to @honi_soit.   Honi Soit December 7, 20151:48 pm Welcome to NUS NatCon for another year. The conference is yet to officially begin, but delegates and observers have registered and are sitting down for lunch. Stay tuned for more this…

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Follow the drama of the National Union of Students’ annual NatCon in Melbourne. Tweet your questions to @honi_soit.

 

Honi Soit December 7, 20151:48 pm

Welcome to NUS NatCon for another year. The conference is yet to officially begin, but delegates and observers have registered and are sitting down for lunch. Stay tuned for more this afternoon as things get underway. 

Honi Soit December 7, 20153:23 pm

Delegates are currently lining up outside the conference floor for a process called “credentialing” where they will register for the upcoming conference session.

Factional headkickers have been spending the last short while hashing out among themselves which motions will be spoken on before the session begins.

Meanwhile, some delegates are revving themselves up for a wild day ahead. #SeverelyAngry

Honi Soit December 7, 20153:57 pm

Conference is well and truly underway. The Returning Officer has given his report.

The second motion put was to ban all photography and video, which won narrowly with voting en bloc by NLS and Student Unity. Cries of shame accompany.  

Honi Soit December 7, 20154:31 pm
Delegates have been speaking on a number of welfare motions, particularly on Centrelink and Youth Allowance.

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) from Sydney Uni speaks about how he had to ask his parents to forge documents to qualify for Youth Allowance when he began university. 

Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) from Sydney Uni ends speech with “Centrelink’s fucked”, saying that Youth Allowance is a broken from people who come from homes characterised by family violence.
Honi Soit December 7, 20154:39 pm

Delegates are speaking to a motion about legal services at student unions. Sydney Uni’s Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) explains that the Sydney Uni SRC’s free legal service “has saved a lot of my friends” and says more student unions need to invest in free student legal services. 

Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) from UNSW says disadvantaged students need free access to legal services if they’re arrested at protests, especially those organised by NUS itself. 

Meanwhile:

Honi Soit December 7, 20154:46 pm
Delegates have been speaking on a number of welfare motions, particularly on Centrelink and Youth Allowance.

Robby Magyar from Sydney Uni (Student Unity) spoke about how he had to ask his parents to forge documents to qualify for Youth Allowance when he began university. 

Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) from Sydney Uni ends speech with “Centrelink’s fucked”, saying that Youth Allowance is a broken from people who come from homes characterised by family violence.
Honi Soit December 7, 20154:55 pm

Speakers are addressing motions en bloc regarding mental health services. 

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) from USyd: “As someone who suffers from anxiety, I don’t like exam periods. I actually break out in rashes every time we come to an exam period.”

Anneke D’Emannuele (SAlt) from Melbourne Uni says its not the role of student unions to address the mental health problems of students by simply providing “petting zoos”. She says instead student unions need to call on universities to provide mental health professionals to help.

A first time speaker from Adelaide Uni says student union-provided services have helped her deal with her social anxiety. 

Honi Soit December 7, 20155:10 pm

To give you a ‘big picture’ idea of the first day of conference so far, motions are being moved and carried relatively quickly at this point. Everything so far is largely symbolic. All speakers so far are largely in agreeance with each other (with some exceptions earlier in the afternoon). 

This humble live-blogger would describe events so far like watching a tightly-choreographed theatre production. It’s bizarre.

For those interested in some context, read our recent feature on NUS here and open letter to 2015 delegates here

Honi Soit December 7, 20155:24 pm

Discussion has turned now to penalty rates. 

Alisha Aitken-Radburn (Student Unity), USyd student union president, has taken the lectern. She is telling the room now how she was being underpaid about $5/hour before she discovered award rates as a 17-year-old. 

Inexplicably, Student Unity have begun chanting “The S, the S, the SDA”. 

In other news, #nusnatcon appears to trending nationwide:

An unidentified SAlt speaker has begun speaking/shouting about those responsible for cutting penalty rates in the first place – the federal Liberal government. Liberal students (one row midway back on the left) pump the air and cheer as everyone else boos. 

SAlt speaker cries: “Fuck you Liberals, you’re not welcome here. Get out, scabs!” Cheers erupt everywhere 

Honi Soit December 7, 20155:37 pm
Discussion has turned to cashless welfare.

Speaker from Tasmania University explaining that the cashless welfare card disproportionately affects Indigenous people. 

Justine Amin (Student Unity) from Sydney University is now speaking (but standing too close to the microphone) critical of racialised arguments against cashless welfare. “We get it, you’re white, you’re privileged, but don’t lecture us, yeah?”

Honi Soit December 7, 20155:54 pm

A motion has been brought to condemn unpaid internships:

Max Murphy (National Labor Students) of UTS says as a union, NUS should be fighting exploitation of students working unpaid internships.

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni says unpaid internships should have “no place in society” or when it comes to study at university. 

“It’s pretty unfair,” he finishes.

A SAlt speaker says there is a massive contradiction between Labor students condemning unpaid internships and Labor policy when they are elected to government. 

“We need a militant activist student campaign” (applause)

Honi Soit December 7, 20156:05 pm

A motion encouraging support for students from lower socio-economic status:

First of all, what a sledge: Georgia Tree (Student Unity) of Curtin Uni says NUS need to support students from lower SES, unlike their private school counterparts, “which I’m sure most of you are”. 

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni is back at the lectern (again). “Unfortunately not all students are inner-city lefties”. 

Magyar has just delivered a bizarre, bizarre sledge mocking rich students who “rip tags off” designer clothing to pretend they’re not rich. 

Sledging between speakers has begun to pick up. Delegates and others on the conference floor have become more restless and are leaving their seats to roam around the edge of the room. 

Honi Soit December 7, 20156:06 pm

A motion encouraging support for students from lower socio-economic status:

First of all, what a sledge: Georgia Tree (Student Unity) of Curtin Uni says NUS need to support students from lower SES, unlike their private school counterparts, “which I’m sure most of you are”. 

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni is back at the lectern (again). “Unfortunately not all students are inner-city lefties”. 

Magyar has just delivered a bizarre, bizarre sledge mocking rich students who “rip tags off” designer clothing to pretend they’re not rich. 

Sledging between speakers has begun to pick up. Delegates and others on the conference floor have become more restless and are leaving their seats to roam around the edge of the room. 

And this odd invitation:

Honi Soit December 7, 20156:09 pm

A motion encouraging support for students from lower socio-economic status:

First of all, what a sledge: Georgia Tree (Student Unity) of Curtin Uni says NUS need to support students from lower SES, unlike their private school counterparts, “which I’m sure most of you are”. 

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni is back at the lectern (again). “Unfortunately not all students are inner-city lefties”. 

Magyar has just delivered a bizarre, bizarre sledge mocking rich students who “rip tags off” designer clothing to pretend they’re not rich. 

Sledging between speakers has begun to pick up. Delegates and others on the conference floor have become more restless and are leaving their seats to roam around the edge of the room. 

And this odd invitation:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I'm at Macquarie Park Shopping Centre if anyone is in Sydney and wants to watch <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/nusnatcon?src=hash”>#nusnatcon</a> with me on twitter <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/novidtho?src=hash”>#novidtho</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/causesafespace?src=hash”>#causesafespace</a></p>&mdash; Michelle Moran (@michellemoran13) <a href=”https://twitter.com/michellemoran13/status/673759995121418240″>December 7, 2015</a></blockquote>

<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Honi Soit December 7, 20156:10 pm

A motion encouraging support for students from lower socio-economic status:

First of all, what a sledge: Georgia Tree (Student Unity) of Curtin Uni says NUS need to support students from lower SES, unlike their private school counterparts, “which I’m sure most of you are”. 

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni is back at the lectern (again). “Unfortunately not all students are inner-city lefties”. 

Magyar has just delivered a bizarre, bizarre sledge mocking rich students who “rip tags off” designer clothing to pretend they’re not rich. 

Sledging between speakers has begun to pick up. Delegates and others on the conference floor have become more restless and are leaving their seats to roam around the edge of the room. 

And this odd invitation:

Honi Soit December 7, 20156:22 pm

For those just joining us, here is a summary so far:

– Members of a variety of political factions (Labor left and right, Liberals, Grassroots, National Independents, Socialist Alternative) representing universities around the country are seated with each other like family enclaves at a wedding wearing t-shirts emblazoned with their faction’s name and slogan.

– Delegates have squabbled over largely symbolic motions endorsing or condemning federal legislation on free legal services for students, Centrelink, mental health services, trade unions, and so on, with many shouts of “shame” and jeering. 

– Video recording and photography was banned as one of the first motions put as conference opened at around 3:30pm today. 

As @CaseyBriggs points on Twitter points out, this doesn’t preclude dramatic re-enactments, pencil sketches, or audio recording.

We’re now breaking for dinner! See you soon when we return…

Honi Soit December 7, 20158:48 pm

And we’re back! 

Honi Soit December 7, 20158:56 pm

Back on welfare: a motion for NUS to lobby for better student and emergency housing:

Daniel (SAlt) from Adelaide Uni is decrying negative gearing and capital gains tax reductions and the toothless opposition of the Labor party on these policies. 

There are 8 empty homes per homeless person, he says. “This is the logic on capitalism in Australia right now.” 

He calls for stronger investment in social housing to applause from the SAlt camp.

Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) from UNSW commends the discussion on how homelessness disproportionately affects queer students. 

“They have nowhere else to go and don’t know where to start”.
Jack Whitney (National Labor Students) from Sydney University is up now explaining how Sydney has a high cost of living. Whitney is also a board director of the Sydney Uni student union.

Honi Soit December 7, 20159:03 pm

The discussion has swung to smoking on campus.

We begin again with Robby Magyar (Student Unity) from Sydney Uni, who confesses he is a smoker. 

Magyar argues campuses need better infrastructure for smokers at unis with smoking bans to “enjoy their guitlty pleasure”. 

“It’s incredibly unsafe to smoke at night,” he says. 

Vinil (SAlt) from Sydney Uni is now arguing that smoking addiction is a symptom of poverty. He is against smoking bans on campuses.

“If you want to have a dart, have a dart,” says Sophie Vassallo (Grassroots) of Monash University. 

Honi Soit December 7, 20159:11 pm

Still discussion is on that simple true blue pleasure of “having a dart”:

Jack Gaudie (Student Unity) of ANU is up, and extols the value of “freedom” in allowing students to smoke on campus. Liberal students applaud.

Honi Soit December 7, 20159:29 pm

Apologies for the silence. The quality of speaking and debate has devolved a bit and speakers are now beginning to repeat themselves, going over the same old territory.

Here is an accurate flow chart:

Honi Soit December 7, 20159:44 pm

Debate is now going back on forth on welfare motions voted on at once. 

Tom Morrison (Student Unity) of UNSW is now speaking on smoking on campus once more, saying it is the biggest challenge to student health (a dubious claim). 

“I’d like to see smoking become a thing of the past,” says Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni. “There are a lot of smokers I care about in this room.”

Daniel Taylor (SAlt) of Monash University announces he “identifies as a smoker”. Laughter from the Socialist Alternative corner. 

Honi Soit December 7, 20159:48 pm

Interesting things to note:

– Many students are very bad speakers. For a gathering of student politicians, the quality and eloquence of speeches is very, very bad.

– This conference at this point in the night has turned into a bit of a poetry slam. Speakers get up to the podium, they deliver a short, shouty speech to jeers from the audience. When they finish, their faction whoop and applaud on cue. All we need now is a live jazz band.

– Security guards hired by NUS to monitor proceedings who are standing around the conference are oddly rapt. One even called out before “it’s all about the money, it’s all about the money!”

– Many students are speaking way too close to the mic. Waaay too close.

If you have any questions on what’s happening, tweet us at @honi_soit!

Honi Soit December 7, 201510:19 pm

Attention in the debate now turning to regional and rural students:

Carl Jackson (SAlt) of Queensland Uni says NUS to work harder to mobilise and engage with regional students.

Debate has gone back and forth now for a while on whether National Days of Action (organised by NUS) don’t engage rural and regional students. Arguments from both sides have laboured the point (forgive the pun) that NDAs happen exclusively in cities.

Honi Soit December 7, 201510:30 pm

Still on regional students:

Nathan Croft (Student Unity) of La Trobe Uni says listening to Socialist Alternative at this year’s conference is like “watching a car crash”.

Student Unity are breaking into chants and song inexplicably.
An unidentified speaker (National Labor Students) says NDAs are not the best way to engage students, to applause.
Eleanor Morley (SAlt) of Sydney Uni says NDAs in Wollongong weren’t actually organised by Peter Munford (Student Unity) of Wollongong Uni, but by someone from Socialist Alternative. 
Conference floor is increasingly restless. NUS president and conference chair Rose Steele (National Labor Students) of La Trobe Uni is increasingly asking for quiet. Increasingly hard to hear speakers over the din.
Honi Soit December 7, 201510:32 pm

Still on regional students:

Nathan Croft (Student Unity) of La Trobe Uni says listening to Socialist Alternative at this year’s conference is like “watching a car crash”.

Student Unity are breaking into chants and song inexplicably.
An unidentified speaker (National Labor Students) says NDAs are not the best way to engage students, to applause.
Eleanor Morley (SAlt) of Sydney Uni says NDAs in Wollongong weren’t actually organised by Peter Munford (Student Unity) of Wollongong Uni, but by someone from Socialist Alternative. 
Conference floor is increasingly restless. NUS president and conference chair Rose Steele (National Labor Students) of La Trobe Uni is increasingly asking for quiet. Increasingly hard to hear speakers over the din.
Honi Soit December 7, 201510:33 pm

And that’s a wrap for day one of national conference! We’ll be back tomorrow for more of this quality commentary. Thanks for following along. This live-blogger is off to bed.

Honi Soit December 8, 20151:32 pm

Good afternoon, we’ve just finished lunch after a pretty slow morning. 

The next session won’t begin at least until 3pm we’ve heard. That probably means another late night. 

Recapping what happened after conference finished around 10:30pm last night:

– Student Unity, NLS and a few others spent most of the night boisterously drinking on the grassy courtyard in the middle of Manix College. 

– Occasional chants were heard from Unity of “The S, the S, the SDA” amid drinking games with their National Labor Students counterparts. 

– A number of fake twitter accounts have emerged on the conference floor that take aim at individuals from different factions. One, for example, lampoons Alisha Aitken-Radburn’s (Student Unity) comments on a Facebook event last week claiming that she spent her student startup scholarship on a trip to Phuket (comments that were later picked up by the Australian).

– Some Grassroots members spent the night drinking on the gazebo, discussing the day’s events until around 4am.

– Overall, most in attendance spent the night drinking with their faction. Interesting to note, breakfast isn’t provided this year because in previous years most delegates haven’t showed up because they’ve been hungover from the night before’s drinking. 

Honi Soit December 8, 20154:30 pm

Conference is in session! Talking now on rural and regional students, picking up from last night.

Nathan Croft (Student Unity) of La Trobe Uni, says these policies get discussed every year and urges delegates to take them seriously.

Stephanie Morgan (National Labor Students) of Deakin Uni wants to condemn cuts to scholarships, especially those to rural and regional students. It can be hard, she argues, for rural students whose closest uni is up to four hours away.

She says living in share houses and residences is incredibly costly in cities. Rural students tend to come from lower SES backgrounds.

“We need to fight for students receiving financial aid.”

Peter Munford (Student Unity) of Wollongong Uni is now speaking on uni students who find it hard to get placements in local hospitals for their uni degrees. “Some students have to go to really far places like Broken Hill to get placements”.

“If someone is against this, I think you have rocks in your head,” he says.

Honi Soit December 8, 20154:32 pm

Just to put this in context, this session started just after 4pm today. 4pm. 

Honi Soit December 8, 20154:37 pm

For those just joining us, we’re on day 2 now of the National Union of Students annual national conference (NatCon). We’re discussing and debating policy on rural and regional students, as well as education later on tonight. 

There are several political factions involved and at play. The most powerful are Labor left and right (NLS and Unity respectively). Very few Grassroots or Liberals.
Credit for graph: Liam O’Neill of Curtin Uni 

Honi Soit December 8, 20154:41 pm

A Liberal student has just stepped up to speak to IMMEDIATE shouting and chanting for him to get down. Boos from the audience. 
“Say it loud, say it clear, Liberals are not welcome here!” chant is being repeated over and over by almost everyone. Socialist Alternative have leapt up from their seats and are leading the chant. 

Security are naturally bemused. 

The Liberal student in question has finally stepped down to cheering and applause from all factions. Liberal row of students has leapt to their feet to cheer him as he walks down.

Honi Soit December 8, 20154:51 pm

Now speaking to a motion about SSAF (Student Services Amenities Fee), a sum charged to students by universities and distributed at their discretion to ‘student services’, whatever they might deem them to be:

“I’m glad it’s finally being acknowledged how bad SSAF is,” says an unidentified SAlt speaker

He is decrying how every year student representatives have to plead to university to decide how we spend student money.  
“SSAF is not an answer to Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU),” he cries to cheers. “No students actually identify with SSAF, it’s taken from them by the university.”

The reason student unions need to beg for SSAF is because the Labor party didn’t oppose VSU, says Sophie Vassallo (Grassroots) of Monash Uni. 

Honi Soit December 8, 20154:59 pm

We’re now moving to education policy! 

Below: this is an example of how student factions negotiate which motions will be discussed before they’re put to the delegates. Note the signatures of factional representatives down the bottom.

This order of motions is agreed upon before hand but is voted on as a formality. It doesn’t take very long to do. 

The next few hours or so will then be spent debating the individual motions referred to in the list.

Honi Soit December 8, 20155:09 pm

For those just joining us, we’re on day 2 now of the National Union of Students annual national conference (NatCon). We’re discussing and debating policy on rural and regional students, as well as education later on tonight. 

There are several political factions involved and at play. The most powerful are Labor left and right (NLS and Unity respectively). Very few Grassroots or Liberals.
Credit for graph: Liam O’Neill of Curtin Uni 

Honi Soit December 8, 20155:21 pm

And now a very divisive motion for NUS to condemn the federal government’s conversion of student startup scholarships (money provided by Centrelink to students) to a HECS loan:
Eleanor Morley (SAlt) of Sydney Uni has begun by chastising Student Unity on their support of this move.

Cries erupt from the back of the room from Sarah Garnham (SAlt) of Sydney Uni, shouts enraged criticism. NUS president Rose Steele brings her back under control.

Alisha Aitken-Radburn (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni arguing Student Unity is pragmatic on its position, where the Trots (Socialist Alternative) are living in a fantasy land.

Billy Bruffey’s (National Labor Students) of UNSW says he is absolutely disgusted that Student Unity (another Labor faction) would stand up and “support disgusting Tory policy”.

“It shows your leaders are more interested in getting a job with their fucking MLC than actually stand up for what you believe in.”

Honi Soit December 8, 20155:25 pm

Conference floor has descended into chaos:

Student Unity are chanting “na na na na, hey hey hey, good bye” when SAlt’s Sarah Garnham takes the stand.
National Labor Students have all gotten up to leave in protest, but NUS president Rose Steele (herself NLS) has told them to sit down, damn it.

Rose Steele has said there is a motion proposed now to shut down conference. It fails.

“Everyone needs to remain respectful and listen to the speaker,” she says tersely. 
Honi Soit December 8, 20155:43 pm

We’re talking now about a motion Unity has put to have more peaceful student protests. 

“It is not your place to say what students can do,” says one Socialist Alternative speaker.

“I don’t understand what the point of student Unity is for,” says Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) of UNSW to enormous cheers.

But now this curve ball:

NUS president Rose Steele has said we’ve lost quorum. There aren’t enough people here to continue. We’re taking a break for dinner.

More to come.

Honi Soit December 8, 20155:46 pm

To think about during the break:

A list of nominations for national executive positions has been posted to the window outside conference. Ballots will be held Thursday, is my understanding. 

Take a look at our future political leaders…

Honi Soit December 8, 20157:45 pm

Dinner break update: 

Tonight on the menu are two things – a kind of chorizo and rice thing as well as a beef stroganoff type deal with roasted potatoes. Very good. This hungry live-blogger ate a plate of each and a small custard tart to top if off.

A few things to note:

– A reminder, as always, tweet us @honi_soit if you want more information on something or you need something clarified. There are no stupid questions. 

– If you’re at all interested, Melbourne Uni’s Martin Ditmann (@martinditmann) has put together this comprehensive data about NUS delegates and their voting clout.
– I’ll be trying to take some photos of NUS tonight (not of the conference floor because of the ban) after the session and I’ll post them up here as soon as I can.

Creditialling for the next session is happening now, so shouldn’t be too long before we’re back on the conference floor.


Honi Soit December 8, 20158:36 pm

We’re back! Conference floor is restless. Stay tuned.

Honi Soit December 8, 20158:46 pm

Speakers now talking about university restructures (ie. Melbourne Model) and staff cuts. 

James Bashford (National Labor Students) of Melbourne Uni is critical of the Melbourne Model which has drastically reduced student outcomes.

Several speakers talking about the drastic cuts to Adelaide Uni and its music department, including Amelia Briggs (National Independents)

Josh (Student Unity) of Adelaide Uni commends a Grassroots-led campaign to oppose cuts through “moderate political action”. He praises Amelia Briggs for her role in the campaign.

One of the most vivid images is students with tape across students’ mouths outside Elder Hall, which made news across the world, he says.

“We should all stand against these cuts”.

Tom Gilchrist (SAlt) of Adelaide Uni gets up to speak and immediately criticises the Labor party. He says student representatives should redirect their energies to campaigns like the National Day of Action organised in Adelaide. 

He mocks Labor’s propensity to door-knock at every opportunity.

Honi Soit December 8, 20158:46 pm

Speakers now talking about university restructures (ie. Melbourne Model) and staff cuts. 

James Bashford (National Labor Students) of Melbourne Uni is critical of the Melbourne Model which has drastically reduced student outcomes.

Several speakers talking about the drastic cuts to Adelaide Uni and its music department, including Amelia Briggs (National Independents)

Josh (Student Unity) of Adelaide Uni commends a Grassroots-led campaign to oppose cuts through “moderate political action”. He praises Amelia Briggs for her role in the campaign.

One of the most vivid images that came out of that campaign, he says, is students with tape across their mouths outside Elder Hall, which made news across the world. 

“We should all stand against these cuts”.

Tom Gilchrist (SAlt) of Adelaide Uni gets up to speak and immediately criticises the Labor party. He says student represents should redirect their energies to campaigns like the National Day of Action organised in Adelaide. 

He mocks Labor’s propensity to door-knock at every opportunity.

Honi Soit December 8, 20158:58 pm

At the moment, we’re still talking on university restructures. Important to note that every speaker is in agreement. And yet, speakers are arguing their point to jeers from the crowd. Very confusing. 

Isabella Brooke (National Labor Students) of Sydney Uni says the restructure at Sydney Uni is a way to “bleed money” from vulnerable students.

NUS should support campaigns against university restructures around Australia, she says.

Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) of Sydney Uni says 122 degrees will be cut down to 20 if the restructure goes ahead. Double degrees will be cut.

“This restructure pushes poor students out of university.”

And then this:

Honi Soit’s own Subeta Vimalarajah is criticised for her face appearing on university marketing material. Several Socialist Alternative speakers lambast her “scab” behaviour. 

“Don’t go and hide in the Vice-Chancellor’s office!” shouts one SAlt speaker.

Honi Soit December 8, 20159:07 pm

We’re still on the topic of fighting uni restructures.

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni says “you’re OK sometimes” directed at the small contingent of Liberal students in the crowd.

Max Murphy (National Labor Students) of UTS (who we hear has all but stitched up the education portfolio for NUS next year) says that no faction should claim anti-restructure campaigns for themselves, and that they are a credit to students at large.

One humble live-blogger’s analysis:

Conference debate has descended to dispute over which faction deserves credit for student campaigns. Important to note we’ve been at this for almost half an hour now with no sign of moving on. 

It’s going to be a long night.

Honi Soit December 8, 20159:19 pm
We’re still plodding along…
First of all, NUS general-secretary Tom Nock (Student Unity) appears to have been taking selfies despite a photography ban that his own faction voted for. 
Sarah Garnham (SAlt) of Sydney Uni has been shouted down from the podium by Student Unity (“Na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, good bye” etc). NUS president Rose Steele has told her to step down after she cut the speaking line. 

Behaviour is getting worse, with more yelling out, chanting and hurled insults.

Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) of Sydney Uni says we need a mass student movement like the one that led to Whitlam’s introduction of free education. Cheers from SAlt and Grassroots. 
 
Honi Soit December 8, 20159:30 pm

We’re still going…

“I might not always get along with Hannah Smith, but I think she’s done an amazing job with education (as NUS office bearer) this year,” says Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni.
Max Murphy (National Labor Students) of UTS has mentioned “working with the NTEU (National Tertiary Education Union)” for the second time tonight as being central to campaigns opposing university restructures and fee deregulation.

Yasmin (SAlt) of Monash Uni is criticising the Labor party’s habit of co-opting student campaigns to their own platform through door-knocking.

Honi Soit December 8, 20159:45 pm

For those just joining us, I apologise in advance. Here’s a little primer for you to understand the factions at play. I’ll be referring to all of them over the course of the night.

A few observations on factions so far:

Student Unity so far is the most similar to a high school rugby team (boorish, jeering, etc). There is negligible difference between their rhetoric and Liberal party rhetoric. They cheer each time their members get up to speak and laugh loudly at their jokes at other factions’ expense.

NLS are quieter and less raucous (no yelling, chanting etc). They appear to be very well disciplined with their whip shouting out “NLS up!” to vote from motion to motion. Two of the best speakers (Billy Bruffey and Steph Morgan) so far have come from this faction.

SAlt speak with the least breath between sentences. They are often dismissed by Labor factions as unrealistic and fanatic. They do, however, speak with genuine anger and frustration when talking about government cuts and the Labor party. 
ALSF have a negligible presence here. One Liberal got up to speak earlier but was booed and shouted down continuously until he caved and sat down.

Credit for table: Liam O’Neill

Also, this is quite accurate:

Honi Soit December 8, 20159:58 pm

Eleanor Morley (SAlt) of Sydney Uni appears to be agitating amid the National Labor Students section of the conference. Hannah Smith (National Labor Students) of Sydney Uni is telling her to sit down.

Now people are standing up and there is a lot of loud muttering. People are milling about.

NUS president Rose Steele is losing control of conference.

Stay tuned.

Honi Soit December 8, 201510:10 pm

Sorry for the silence. Here’s a short vid of what’s happening right now:

Honi Soit December 8, 201510:26 pm

A motion has been brought to the conference floor to “condemn Robby Magyar’s man bun”.

It carries with votes from Student Unity itself. Bizarre.

Honi Soit December 8, 201510:37 pm

Speakers are now talking about the role of Vice-Chancellors in creating change:

Anneke D’Emmanuale (SAlt) of Melbourne Uni says Vice-Chancellors are not the people students need to be appealing to. “We need to be fighting them”.

This comes from a larger narrative of which tactic is more effective in creating change as a national union: lobbying (individual action within structure) versus protest (mass action outside of structure).

Sydney Uni Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence led attacks on staff and is leading the uni restructure as well as deregulation of fees, says Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) of Sydney Uni.

“Vice-Chancellors inflict violence upon students,” he says.

Honi Soit December 8, 201510:52 pm

Apologies for silence, my internet cut out briefly. OK now we’re talking about NUS’ stance on free education vs a HECS-HELP scheme.

Michael Elliott (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni swaggers to the stage in a bucket hat and announces that “free education ruins lives.”

Education is a fundamental human right, says Emily Strange (SAlt). “It’s just a matter of principle”

“The general level of policy has been pretty appallingly low.”

She says that if you really want to fund free education, then raise the corporate tax rate. Cheers from the lefter leaning areas of conference.

Honi Soit December 8, 201511:00 pm
Chaos now. NUS president Rose Steele says “quiet on the floor!” about every single minute.
Hooooo boy.
The HECS system is fundamentally a good system, says Cam Petrie (Student Unity) of RMIT. Remember, this is coming from the same faction that supported the conversion of student startup scholarships into loans and from the same guy who praised his VC for setting “KPIs” to deal with student concerns.

In an odd decision to quote a “Scottish civil servant”, Petrie says “free education is a middle-class feel good policy.” 

“HECS is best” he cries to the applause of his faction.

NUS president Rose Steele is doing a good job keeping everyone in order, but conference is wild and unruly. 
Robby Magyar (Student Unity) is back again. “We do not live in a brightly coloured, candy-coated, wonderful, mystical land of puppy dogs and kittens,” he says.

Magyar says HECS is the greatest thing to happen in this country and concludes by deriding “inner-city scum”.

Wow.
Honi Soit December 8, 201511:23 pm

Apologies, followers. I’ve lost track of things briefly – fatigue beginning to set in. We’re approaching our 8th hour of this session soon.

I’ll pump out a few more updates… stay tuned.

Honi Soit December 8, 201511:33 pm

Now we’re talking about textbook prices:
Tom Nock (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni says this motion to abolish tariffs on foreign textbook publishers is a “test why we are here” as a national union.

He argues parallel import restrictions on textbooks to be abolished to make them cheaper for students.

Now something else entirely:

Lance Sinclair (Grassroots) has just gotten up to the stand to argue the same point as Unity. He has just argued against the stance of his faction.

His own faction are calling “shame!”

His faction are now harassing him at the back of conference. Unity students swivel around and call out to leave him alone.

Even now we’re onto the next speaker people are still clapping him.

Whoa. 

Honi Soit December 8, 201511:41 pm

We are now debating tariffs on textbook imports. 

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni claims every student he spoke to on the campaign trail at Sydney Uni didn’t want parallel import restrictions.

Truly dubious claim to make.

Another unidentified Student Unity speaker has gotten up and said that protectionist policies are “archaic”. 

And then this:

Honi Soit December 8, 201511:42 pm

We are now debating tariffs on textbook imports. 

Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of Sydney Uni claims every student he spoke to on the campaign trail at Sydney Uni didn’t want parallel import restrictions.

Truly dubious claim to make.

Another unidentified Student Unity speaker has gotten up and said that protectionist policies are “archaic”. 

And then this:

Honi Soit December 8, 201511:55 pm

The vote for the motion to abolish parallel import restrictions (PIR) on textbooks was too close to call. 

Now a “campus count” has been called, in which ballots are handed out to reps from each individual campus to get precise numbers. 

Results are rolling: 

UWA – 49 for (abolition), 39 against (abolition)
University of Newcastle – 15 for, 88 against

UNSW – 91 for, 68 against

More to come

Honi Soit December 8, 201511:57 pm

A few more…

University of Wollongong – 44 for, 22 against

UTAS – 24 for, 22 against

Sydney Uni – 62 for, 48 against

Honi Soit December 8, 201511:58 pm

And…

UTS – 78 for, 31 against
So far the ‘for abolition’ contingent of PIR has won each campus except Newcastle Uni.

Honi Soit December 9, 201512:01 am

Few more…

Flinders University – 11 for, 53 against

QUT – 66 for, 32 against

Griffith – 14 for, 14 against

RMIT – 153 for, 25 against

Enormous cheers erupt from Student Unity.

It is now looking inevitable that the ‘for’ side will win.

Honi Soit December 9, 201512:06 am

Apologies for the boring numbers stuff, it’s almost over. It’s pretty much passed.

We’ve heard from a member of Student Unity that voting can often be fraught at conference because it is conducted with pieces of paper that delegates raise in the air to vote. 

Sometimes non-delegates sitting with their faction raise their paper too and it can muddy the vote, but the president or chair just has to make a decision. Sometimes, you can assume that the entire faction will vote the same way anyway.

It’s weird.

A few more numbers on the motion:

Victoria University – 63 for, 47 against

Canberra Uni – 39 for, 0 against

Liberals are standing, cheers, and chanting with Student Unity.

Unity are now singing “Student Unity forever”.

Student Unity and Liberals are now gloating loudly with their “Good Bye” song as National Labor Students – another faction of their very party – leave with tails between their legs.

Truly strange.

Honi Soit December 9, 201512:10 am

And that’s it for tonight! Thanks for joining us, we’ll see you tomorrow (afternoon) for another day of NUS national conference!

Honi Soit December 9, 201511:42 am

Good morning, we’re back on the conference floor.

First up:

After a shaky start, National Labor Students have walked out of conference in an attempt to pull quorum apparently over a motion to decide the date of an upcoming National Day of Action.

There was a scuffle as Socialist Alternative tried to block them leaving and security guards tried to keep things under control. Eventually NLS members found another door and poured out.

My understanding is that Socialist Alternative wanted to set a date of April 13 for the protest march, but NLS were unhappy with it. The cynics in the room claim this is due to a clash with federal election campaigning during that time.

Several Socialist Alternative members have approached us media observers in an attempt to see what we’re writing about them.

The right hand side of the room where they sit is now completely empty. 

Honi Soit December 9, 201512:26 pm

One of our editors spotted NLS walking away through Monash University, suggesting that the conference floor will not re-open until after lunch, around 2pm. Meanwhile, delegates and observers debate about whether NLS or Socialist Alternative are more reprehensible. 

A person on the conference floor sent us the image below. You can see the heavy handed scuffle between Socialist Alternative, who are blocking the door, and NLS, who pulled quorum. 

An announcement was made telling us to leave the room. As we left, a passerby from Unity remarked to Cameron Caccamo “I feel like it’s just USYD’s problems, just on a national level” – poignant, but depressing. 

Since this morning, the agenda has shifted from finishing education policy, to disabilities, to ethnocultural. Now there is talk that women’s policy will be next on the agenda to entice NLS – the self-identified feminist faction – to return to the conference floor. 

As we retire for lunch, it is worth noting that only welfare and small and regional policy has been finished. This leaves all remaining policy (out of a 400 or so page policy document) and candidate speeches to be finished today. It’s going to be a late night. 

Honi Soit December 9, 20151:40 pm

We’re sitting down to lunch – quiche lorraine and wedges – a salty, indulgent classic. The conversation has turned to the NUS Office Bearers for 2016. With a few exceptions, deals have been finalised, making speeches a formality. Here they are – 

President – Sinead Colee (NLS) of Monash University. She just finished her term as Monash Student Association President this year – an NLS pre-requisite to being preselected for NUS President. Those who worked with her this year said she was “Draconian” in her leadership. Allegedly, she used her position to deny other factions access to resources, including printing; as well as carrying out decisions without consultation. 

General Secretary – Cameron Petrie (Student Unity) of RMIT. 

Education Officer – Max Murphy (NLS) of UTS, who was Education Vice President of UTS Student Association this year. He led the “Triple The Semesters, Triple The Problems” campaign at UTS that his successor, Madeleine Treacy-Maclean (NLS) says was very successful.   

Welfare Officer – Robby Magyar (Student Unity) of our very own, University of Sydney. For dirt on Magyar, just scroll down.

Queer Officer – still to be finalised, but our sources say it will be Clare Francis (Socialist Alternative) of Curtin Unviersity or Dean Mattar (NLS) of UTS.

Women’s Officer – Heidi La Paglia (NLS) of University of Tasmania, a Presidential hopeful. Rumours say she was bullied out of the President position by Victorian NLS, despite being the most competent candidate. 

National Disabilities – Hayden Shaw (Student Unity) of the University of Canberra. 

Environment Officer – Isabel Grace Manfield (NLS) of the University of Queenland. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Officer – Lizzy Green (Unity) of UTS. She was elected unopposed. 

Small and Regional Officer – Peter Munford (Student Unity) of the University of Wollongong.

Lunch is finishing up, hopefully we’ll be bringing you updates from the conference floor soon! 

Honi Soit December 9, 20152:36 pm

We’re off to a fiery start! NLS is being lectured by Socialist Alternative

NUS Education Officer Hannah Smith (NLS) has been shamed for failing to speak to any education policy and Billy Bruffey (NLS) of UNSW has been told he “stands up and talks about garbage”.

Finally, an NLS speaker, Betty Belay, the 2015 Education Officer of La Trobe University, takes the podium to a crowd of cheers from her faction. She explains that April 13th is too late a date, concluding emphatically with “6 weeks into semester is too fuckin late”, returning to a cheering audience of red shirts. Her argument is that new students need to be mobilised earlier, and that another NDA can be held in April anyway.

A Unity speaker follows with a series of strange, unimportant events that April 13th commemorates including the day the “co-founder of the Jesuits was born”, “Christopher Hitchens was born” and other unimportant shit – all the while supporting the position of their nemesis Socialist Alternative. 

Sarah Garnham (Socialist Alternative) is spurred on by the University of Sydney SRC President, Chloe Smith (NLS) who shouts “we’re sorry you didn’t get Ed{ucation Officer of the SRC)” from the audience. In response, Garham describes NLS candidates as “worse than wet fish” and goes on to attack Hannah Smith (NLS) as her faction cheers and chants her name, overpowering Garnham’s vitriol.

The motion carries, Socialist Alternative cheers. The NDA will be on April 13th.

Pictured: a wet fish, and what is feels like to be in this room.

Honi Soit December 9, 20152:55 pm

Socialist Alternative picks up on “intersectionality” in the wording of the current education motion and chastises the Labor Party. “NLS is a right wing hack faction”, “the Labor party murders oppressed people”, “murders Indigenous youth” – the debate settles after this speech.

Max Murphy (NLS) from UTS, the soon to be Education Officer for NUS, has also been condemned. Socialist Alternative, unsurprisingly, do not think he will be an appropriate candidate for the role. The motion passes. 

We are now moving on to the disabilities chapter. Alison Taylor (NLS), the Disabilities Officer for NUS this year will be replacing President Rose Steele as chair. Those with disabilities have been told – if they feel comfortable – to move to the front of the room to “reclaim” the space. Socialist Alternative chuckles at this announcement, undoubtedly due to their ideological dislike of “identity politics”.

Honi Soit December 9, 20152:56 pm

Socialist Alternative picks up on “intersectionality” in the wording of the current education motion and chastises the Labor Party. “NLS is a right wing hack faction”, “the Labor party murders oppressed people”, “murders Indigenous youth” – the debate settles after this speech.

Max Murphy (NLS) from UTS, the soon to be Education Officer for NUS, has also been condemned. Socialist Alternative, unsurprisingly, do not think he will be an appropriate candidate for the role. The motion passes. 

We are now moving on to the disabilities chapter. Alison Taylor (NLS), the Disabilities Officer for NUS this year will be replacing NUS President Rose Steele as chair. Those with disabilities have been told – if they feel comfortable – to move to the front of the room to “reclaim” the space. Socialist Alternative chuckles at this announcement, undoubtedly due to their ideological dislike of “identity politics”.

Honi Soit December 9, 20153:16 pm

As the disabilities chapter opens, Socialist Alternative have clearly lost interest. There is muttering from their block as the first speaker, Stephanie Morgan (NLS) of Deakin University speaks to the “caring for carers” motion.

So far all speakers have emphatically supported the motion and spoken about their experiences, positing uncontroversial ideas like a “photo campaign”. Just as the room calms, Daniel (Socialist Alternative) of Monash University takes the stand.

He proceeds to mock the “spoons” concept embedded in one of the motions. Spoons is an analogy used to explain whether someone has the energy to participate in something. If one says “I have no spoons”, it means they are unable to participate. 

Daniel jokes about a “Mad Max style post-apocalyptic future where there are no spoons” and proceeds to extend and ridicule the analogy. As he does, the audience erupts. Observers and delegates shout “shame” and “get off the stage”, as Socialist Alternative cheers.

So far the discussion has focused on “invisible” disabilities – mental illness and chronic illnesses – with the exception of Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) mentioning a friend with a physical disability. 

Honi Soit December 9, 20153:31 pm

Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) speaks specifically to the intersection of mental illness and activism. He specifically identifies the bullying and manipulation that characterises student politics and the way his experience of PTSD was belittled by the Carrigan2000 joke twitter account.

Abena Dove (Student Unity) from RMIT delivers what is colloquially referred to as a “smack down” to Socialist Alternative, as various members of their faction shout back at her. Dove persists, telling Socialist Alternative they need to listen for once and that they are “morally repugnant” to cheers erupting from all other factions.

Audience members are also ignited to join the verbal brawl, with Pat Dollard (Grassroots) from Melbourne University leering at Socialist Alternative from across the room as he is held back by friends. The motion passes.

Honi Soit December 9, 20153:54 pm

Abena Dove (Student Unity) has started a movement. Speakers from various factions take to the stand and unite, calling out Socialist Alternative for their obstructionist approach to the disabilities chapter. As Laura Campbell (National Independents) speaks, all of Student Unity stand and clap her. 

As we move to the next motion – trigger warnings – Fahad Ali (Student Unity) speaks to how they infantilise survivors of abuse. A member of Socialist Alternative takes the same position. 

The Socialist Alternative speaker decries the excessive approach to trigger warnings in the United States, giving spurious examples of Yale University professors allegedly fired for not using trigger warnings.

On this issue, Student Unity and Socialist Alternative are on the same side, echoing the cries of many hard-right Conservatives. As NLS holds a majority on the conference floor, their support carries the motion. 

Honi Soit December 9, 20154:08 pm

Now to ethnocultural policy! We are being lead by everyone’s favourite white, South-African NUS Ethnocultural Officer Michael Bezuidenhout (Student Unity) who decided to retain his position, despite national calls for him to step down last year. 

Notably, there was no call for students of colour to move to the front of the room, as there was for disabilities. Perhaps because that would displace the chair. Justine Amin (Student Unity) has just approached me, saying that such an announcement was made. 

The first speaker Betty Belay (NLS) makes clear – albeit with a muttered “sorry” directed at Michael – that she does not want another Ethnocultural Officer who is white. 

Jasmine (Socialist Alternative) points out the hypocrisy of the Labor party talking about racism when mandatory detention is one of their policies. Vinil Kumar (Socialist Alternative) continues in this vein, also pointing out that the White Australia Policy was one of the Labor party. 

Socialist Alternative have also been abstaining from all votes. 

Honi Soit December 9, 20154:16 pm

Now to ethnocultural policy! We are being lead by everyone’s favourite white, South-African NUS Ethnocultural Officer Michael Bezuidenhout (Student Unity) who decided to retain his position, despite national calls for him to step down last year. 

Notably, there was no call for students of colour to move to the front of the room, as there was for disabilities. Perhaps because that would displace the chair. 

The first speaker Betty Belay (NLS) makes clear – albeit with a muttered “sorry” directed at Michael – that she does not want the same mistake to be made again. 

Jasmine (Socialist Alternative) points out the hypocrisy of the Labor party talking about racism when mandatory detention is one of their policies. Vinil Kumar (Socialist Alternative) continues in this vein, also pointing out that the White Australia Policy was one of the Labor party. 

Honi Soit December 9, 20154:37 pm

Fahad Ali (Student Unity) from the University of Sydney, speaks on solidarity with Palestine. Fahad ran the “Students for Palestine” SRC ticket last year, and has been very vocal on this issue.

Fahad was shouted down by Socialist Alternative when he said he would not be supporting the motion – likely because his faction would not support it – claiming it belonged in a different chapter.

A Liberal student has just attempted to speak. He continues to speak over the deafening and persistent chants of Socialist Alternative, “say it loud, say it clear, Liberals are not welcome here” No other faction is chanting.

The Liberal student in question is Palestinian. There was a brief break to the chanting, but it soon re-starts. It is clear that the chair, Michael, has no control of the room. Chaos abounds and there are phones filming the action.

The doors have been blocked by Socialist Alternative and I was warned to move. As a motion is passed by the business committee that the (Liberal) speaker no longer be heard, Fahad Ali jumps forward and decries that the decision is racist.

At a new seat, foolishly close to the door, as Student Unity attempts to pull quorum and leave the room, I am knocked over in my chair as a violent scuffle ensues. As I turned around, I saw Sarah Garnham (Socialist Alternative) flying towards me. Allegedly, she was pushed by a man named Martin Zanolla (Student Unity). Videos have been sent to us confirming this, we will be uploading them soon.

The current chant is “Student Unity you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide”. A passerby in an NLS shirt remarks “if this didn’t happen, it wouldn’t have been a real NatCon”. We’ll be tracking down footage and posting it soon. 

Honi Soit December 9, 20154:41 pm

Fahad Ali (Student Unity) from the University of Sydney, speaks on solidarity with Palestine. Fahad ran the “Students for Palestine” SRC ticket last year, and has been very vocal on this issue.

Fahad was shouted down by Socialist Alternative when he said he would not be supporting the motion – likely because his faction would not support it – claiming it belonged in a different chapter.

A Liberal student has just attempted to speak. He continues to speak over the deafening and persistent chants of Socialist Alternative, “say it loud, say it clear, Liberals are not welcome here” No other faction is chanting.

The Liberal student in question is Palestinian. There was a brief break to the chanting, but it soon re-starts. It is clear that the chair, Michael, has no control of the room. Chaos abounds and there are phones filming the action.

The doors have been blocked by Socialist Alternative and I was warned to move. As a motion is passed by the business committee that the (Liberal) speaker no longer be heard, Fahad jumps forward and decries that the decision is racist.

At a new seat, foolishly close to the door, as Student Unity attempts to pull quorum and leave the room, I am knocked over in my chair. A violent scuffle ensues. 

The current chant is “Student Unity you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide”. A passerby in an NLS shirt remarks “if this didn’t happen, it wouldn’t have been a real NatCon”. Here is some footage sent to us, taken by a delegate on the conference floor.

Honi Soit December 9, 20154:54 pm

Fahad Ali (Student Unity) from the University of Sydney, speaks on solidarity with Palestine. Fahad ran the “Students for Palestine” SRC ticket last year, and has been very vocal on this issue.

Fahad was shouted down by Socialist Alternative when he said he would not be supporting the motion – likely because his faction would not support it – claiming it belonged in a different chapter.

A Liberal student has just attempted to speak. He continues to speak over the deafening and persistent chants of Socialist Alternative, “say it loud, say it clear, Liberals are not welcome here” No other faction is chanting.

The Liberal student in question is Palestinian. There was a brief break to the chanting, but it soon re-starts. It is clear that the chair, Michael, has no control of the room. Chaos abounds and there are phones filming the action.

The doors have been blocked by Socialist Alternative and I (Subeta) was warned to move increase the scuffle got violent. As a motion is passed by the business committee that the (Liberal) speaker no longer be heard, Fahad Ali jumps forward and decries that the decision is racist.

At a new seat, foolishly close to the door, as Student Unity attempts to pull quorum and leave the room, I am knocked over in my chair as a violent scuffle ensues. 

The current chant is “Student Unity you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide”. A passerby in an NLS shirt remarks “if this didn’t happen, it wouldn’t have been a real NatCon”. Here’s some footage taken by a delegate. Anyone with more, contact us!

Honi Soit December 9, 20155:15 pm

Socialist Alternative has returned to the room. It is unclear what transpired between the scuffle and now, but they are now letting (or rather, the chanting has stopped) Tarek Muhtaseb (Liberal), speak. 

Muhtaseb speaks to familial deaths as a result of the conflict, but ultimately does not support the motion. Members of Socialist Alternative sporadically shout at him. 

A Socialist Alternative speaker follows him, giving a compelling speech that identifies the complicity of Student Unity in supporting the state-sanctioned violence of Israel, labelling them the “most zionist faction”. 

As the motion moves to a vote, unsurprisingly, Student Unity and the Liberals vote against the motion. With the support of NLS however, the motion passes. 

Honi Soit December 9, 20155:42 pm

The next motion is about Reclaim Australia. It is being moved by Socialist Alternative. Shagufta Ali (Student Unity), accuses two students from Socialist Alternative of being racist. Specifically, she alleges that they called her a terrorist.

Socialist Alternative collectively shout at her. There are a range of comments from the audience and the speaker re-iterating the view that white students should not be speaking on this policy. 

An Indigenous, NLS speaker emphatically points out the illegitimacy of Reclaim Australia “reclaiming” Aboriginal land, and is given a standing ovation by his faction and members of Grassroots and the National Independents.

The motion passes, but with Student Unity and the Liberals voting against it. 

Honi Soit December 9, 20155:47 pm

The next motion is about Reclaim Australia. It is being moved by Socialist Alternative. Shagufta Ali (Student Unity), accuses two students from Socialist Alternative of being racist. Specifically, she alleges that they called her a terrorist.

Socialist Alternative collectively shout at her. There are a range of comments from the audience and the speaker re-iterating the view that white students should not be speaking on this policy. 

An Indigenous NLS speaker emphatically speaks to the illegitimacy of Reclaim Australia “reclaiming” Aboriginal land, and is given a standing ovation by his faction and members of Grassroots and the National Independents.

The motion passes, but with Student Unity and the Liberals voting against it. That’s the end of ethnocultural policy, queer is up next!

Honi Soit December 9, 20156:20 pm

After the procedural motions are passed, Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) from UNSW speaks to the first motion about queer homelessness. 

Clare Francis (Socialist Alternative) from Curtin University, a prospective candidate for NUS Queer Officer, speaks. In case any of us forgot, she reminds us of Alisha Aitken-Radburn’s (Student Unity) Phuket scandal. 

The motion passes, with Socialist Alternative voting in favour, despite abstaining from previous “identity” policy motions. The mood of the room – dare I speak too soon – is calm. At one point, Dean (Socialist Alternative) says “this is all great stuff”, uncharacteristically positive sentiments that provoke fear and confusion (at least from me). 

Dean Mattar (NLS) from UTS, the other prospective NUS Queer Officer, speaks to the next motion, urging factions to stand in support with sex workers. 

Robby Magyar speaks about drugs that reduce the chance of contracting HIV/AIDS. To complete my biography, Magyar shares another personal story. In fairness, it is particularly harrowing and illustrates the damning toll that HIV/AIDS has had on the queer community.

Honi Soit December 9, 20157:58 pm

We’re off to a fiery start! NLS is being lectured by Socialist Alternative

NUS Education Officer Hannah Smith (NLS) has been shamed for failing to speak to any education policy and Billy Bruffey (NLS) of UNSW has been told he “stands up and talks about garbage”.

Finally, an NLS speaker, Betty Belay, the 2015 Education Officer of La Trobe University, takes the podium to a crowd of cheers from her faction. She explains that April 13th is too late a date, concluding emphatically with “6 weeks into semester is too fuckin late”, returning to a cheering audience of red shirts. Her argument is that new students need to be mobilised earlier, and that another NDA can be held in April anyway.

A Unity speaker follows with a series of strange, unimportant events that April 13th commemorates including the day the “co-founder of the Jesuits was born”, “Christopher Hitchens was born” and other unimportant shit – all the while supporting the position of their nemesis Socialist Alternative. 

Sarah Garnham (Socialist Alternative) is spurred on by the University of Sydney SRC President, Chloe Smith (NLS) who shouts “we’re sorry you didn’t get Ed(ucation Officer of the SRC)” from the audience. In response, Garham describes NLS candidates as “worse than wet fish” and goes on to attack Hannah Smith (NLS) as Smith’s faction cheers and chants her name, overpowering Garnham’s vitriol.

The motion carries, Socialist Alternative cheers. The NDA will be on April 13th.

Pictured: a wet fish, and what is feels like to be in this room.

Honi Soit December 9, 20159:31 pm

After dinner and a small break, we’re back! Alison Taylor (NLS) Grievance Officer says there have been a lot of grievances in the last few hours, no shit. A few comments are made:

– Doors should not be obstructed if people need to leave (likely directed at Socialist Alternative).

– Don’t harass people if they do not want to talk to you, including at lunch and dinner time (likely also directed at Socialist Alternative).

– Physical violence is not okay, particularly towards women. Multiple reports of physical assault have been made. Not sure if you’ve checked our facebook page, but this just went live: 

– Finally, a general reminder about filming. The next people to be caught filming will be ejected from the conference floor. We’ve survived so far, but we might need to follow the rules for a while! Thank you to those who have been sending us footage. 

In other news, a motion for shoes to be worn at all times just failed. Not sure who voted for it, maybe a few Liberals. 

Honi Soit December 9, 201510:15 pm

We are continuing with queer policy! Robby Magyar (Unity) opposes the term “queer” as it is overly academic. He decries the “tiny little bubble that is identity politics” (despite otherwise constantly relying on its rhetoric) and calls collectives “naval gazing”. Instead, he proposes LGBTI as a better option. 

Apparently when Magyar went to “cog” – jargon for the process that allows a motion to be debated – the motion was eaten by NLS. 

Sorry, to clarify, pieces of paper were literally consumed, as one might do an apple or coffee. 

The consumption is not just symbolic. This means that there are people in this room with fragments of paper being broken down by their stomach acid, simply because they do not like people disagreeing with them. This is a commonplace occurrence, many factions engage in it.

Onto the motion, it has caused quite the debate! Socialist Alternative and Unity have again becoming unlikely friends – both focusing on the lack of widespread use of the term and its history as a slur, making LGBTI a more practical and inclusive option. The newly formed relationship between the two warring factions escalates, until Robby Magyar commends a past NUS Queer Officer from their faction to raucous applause in response. 

Against the motion, Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) explains that decades of political struggle have given people power to reclaim the term. Stephanie Morgan (NLS) takes the podium with wild applause from her faction. At it’s peak, Morgan condemns the “fucking gatriarchy”, as Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) recklessly fist pumps to the point his right forearm has taken on a life of its own.  

The speaking list is exhausted, a vote is called. The motion carries, the Unity-Socialist Alternative Coalition wi- NO, a campus count has been called. 

Each delegate has a vote with a different value (determined through a very complex system), a campus count is utilised only in extreme, close circumstances. 

Honi Soit December 9, 201510:23 pm

We are continuing with queer policy! Robby Magyar (Unity) opposes the term “queer” as it is overly academic. He decries the “tiny little bubble that is identity politics” (despite otherwise constantly relying on its rhetoric) and calls collectives “naval gazing”. Instead, he proposes LGBTI as a better option. 

Apparently when Magyar went to “cog” – jargon for the process that allows a motion to be debated – the motion was eaten by NLS. 

Sorry, to clarify, pieces of paper were literally consumed, as one might do an apple or coffee. 

The consumption is not just symbolic. This means that there are people in this room with fragments of paper being broken down by their stomach acid, simply because they do not like people disagreeing with them. This is a commonplace occurrence, many factions engage in it.

Onto the motion, it has caused quite the debate! Socialist Alternative and Unity have again becoming unlikely friends – both focusing on the lack of widespread use of the term and its history as a slur, making LGBTI a more practical and inclusive option. The newly formed relationship between the two warring factions escalates, until Robby Magyar commends a past NUS Queer Officer from their faction to raucous applause in response. 

Against the motion, Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) explains that decades of political struggle have given people power to reclaim the term. Stephanie Morgan (NLS) takes the podium with wild applause from her faction. At it’s peak, Morgan condemns the “fucking gatriarchy”, as Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) recklessly fist pumps to the point his right forearm has taken on a life of its own.  
The speaking list is exhausted, a vote is called. The motion carries, the Unity-Socialist Alternative Coalition wi- NO, a campus count has been called. 

Each delegate has a vote with a different value (determined through a very complex system), a campus count is utilised when the margin is very close. 

The final value is – 1154 for, 912 against, 52 abstentions, the motion did pass. Our fellow media friends at Farrago did the factional breakdown:

NLS starts chanting “we’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous don’t fuck with us!”

Honi Soit December 9, 201510:26 pm

We are continuing with queer policy! Robby Magyar (Unity) opposes the term “queer” as it is overly academic. He decries the “tiny little bubble that is identity politics” (despite often relying on its rhetoric) and calls collectives “naval gazing”. Instead, he proposes LGBTI as a better option. 

Apparently when Magyar went to “cog” – jargon for the process that allows a motion to be debated – the motion was eaten by NLS. 

Sorry, to clarify, pieces of paper were literally consumed, as one might do an apple or coffee. 

The consumption is not just symbolic. This means that there are people in this room with fragments of paper being broken down by their stomach acid, simply because they do not like people disagreeing with them. This is a commonplace occurrence, many factions engage in it.

Onto the motion, it has caused quite the debate! Socialist Alternative and Unity have again becoming unlikely friends – both focusing on the lack of widespread use of the term and its history as a slur, making LGBTI a more practical and inclusive option. The newly formed relationship between the two warring factions escalates, until Robby Magyar commends a past NUS Queer Officer from their faction to raucous applause in response. 

Against the motion, Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) explains that decades of political struggle have given people power to reclaim the term. Stephanie Morgan (NLS) takes the podium with wild applause from her faction. At it’s peak, Morgan condemns the “fucking gatriarchy”, as Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) recklessly fist pumps to the point his right forearm has taken on a life of its own.  
The speaking list is exhausted, a vote is called. The motion carries, the Unity-Socialist Alternative Coalition wi- NO, a campus count has been called. 

Each delegate has a vote with a different value (determined through a very complex system), a campus count is utilised when the margin is very close. 

The final value is – 1154 for, 912 against, 52 abstentions, the motion did pass. Our fellow media friends at Farrago did the factional breakdown:

NLS starts chanting “we’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous don’t fuck with us!”

Honi Soit December 9, 201510:29 pm

We are continuing with queer policy! Robby Magyar (Unity) opposes the term “queer” as it is overly academic. He decries the “tiny little bubble that is identity politics” (despite often relying on its rhetoric) and calls collectives “naval gazing”. Instead, he proposes LGBTI as a better option. 

Apparently when Magyar went to “cog” – jargon for the process that allows a motion to be debated – the motion was eaten by NLS. 

Sorry, to clarify, pieces of paper were literally consumed, as one might do an apple or coffee. 

The consumption is not just symbolic. This means that there are people in this room with fragments of paper being broken down by their stomach acid, simply because they do not like people disagreeing with them. This is a commonplace occurrence, many factions engage in it.

Onto the motion, it has caused quite the debate! Socialist Alternative and Unity have again becoming unlikely friends – both focusing on the lack of widespread use of the term and its history as a slur, making LGBTI a more practical and inclusive option. The newly formed relationship between the two warring factions escalates, until Robby Magyar commends a past NUS Queer Officer from their faction to raucous applause in response. 

Against the motion, Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) explains that decades of political struggle have given people power to reclaim the term. Stephanie Morgan (NLS) takes the podium with wild applause from her faction. At it’s peak, Morgan condemns the “fucking gatriarchy”, as Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) recklessly fist pumps to the point his right forearm has taken on a life of its own.  
The speaking list is exhausted, a vote is called. The motion carries, the Unity-Socialist Alternative Coalition wi- NO, a campus count has been called. 

Each delegate has a vote with a different value (determined through a very complex system), a campus count is utilised when the margin is very close. 

The final value is – 1154 for, 912 against, 52 abstentions, so the motion did pass. Our fellow media friends at Farrago did the factional breakdown:

NLS starts chanting “we’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous don’t fuck with us!”

Honi Soit December 9, 201510:40 pm

We are continuing with queer policy! 

Robby Magyar (Unity) opposes the term “queer” as it is overly academic. He decries the “tiny little bubble that is identity politics” (despite otherwise constantly relying on its rhetoric) and calls collectives “naval gazing”. Instead, he proposes LGBTI as a better option. 

Apparently when Magyar went to “cog” – jargon for the process that allows a motion to be debated – the motion was eaten by NLS. 

Sorry, to clarify, pieces of paper were literally consumed, as one might do an apple or coffee. 

The consumption is not just symbolic. This means that there are people in this room with fragments of paper being broken down by their stomach acid, simply because they do not like people disagreeing with them. This is a commonplace occurrence, many factions engage in it.

Onto the motion, it has caused quite the debate! Socialist Alternative and Unity have again becoming unlikely friends – both focusing on the lack of widespread use of the term and its history as a slur, making LGBTI a more practical and inclusive option. The newly formed relationship between the two warring factions escalates, until Robby Magyar commends a past NUS Queer Officer from their faction to raucous applause in response. 

Against the motion, Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) explains that decades of political struggle have given people power to reclaim the term. Stephanie Morgan (NLS) takes the podium with wild applause from her faction. At it’s peak, Morgan condemns the “fucking gatriarchy”, as Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) recklessly fist pumps to the point his right forearm has taken on a life of its own.

The speaking list is exhausted, a vote is called. The motion carries, the Unity-Socialist Alternative Coalition wi- 

No, scratch that. A campus count has been called. 

Each delegate has a vote with a different value (determined through a very complex system), a campus count is utilised when the margin is very close. 

The final value is – 1154 for, 912 against, 52 abstentions, the motion did pass. 

NLS starts chanting “we’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous don’t fuck with us!”

Honi Soit December 9, 201511:04 pm

The queer chapter just finished with an impassioned set of speeches about the systematic torture of LGBTI/queer asylum seekers by the Australian government. 

Just saw a queer student leave the conference floor crying. Cool. 

We’re also received insider information that our cheeky characterisation of a Socialist Alternative-Unity coalition was not far from the truth. Socialist Alternative made a deal that if Unity voted on the April 13th National Day of Action motion (that NLS opposed), they would vote for Unity’s “LGBTI instead of Queer” motion.   

Before women’s policy, there is an impromptu motion about freshly announced cuts to the University of Western Australia that will see 300 staff jobs lost. 

After a brief explanation of the scenario, a Socialist Alternative speaker falsely claims that the National Independents – directed at Lizzy O’Shea and Emma Boogaerdt – did not do anything to fight the UWA restructure. Those claims were quickly disproved. 

We now move onto women’s policy.

Honi Soit December 9, 201511:46 pm

Women’s policy now! A range of uninspiring topics – Socialist Alternative saying their NUS Women’s Officer was the best one ever, Alisha Aitken-Radburn (Student Unity) and Emma Boogaerdt (National Independents) flatly denying those claims; the tax on sanitary products, women and deregulation, the pay gap etc.

It get’s a bit more juicy with a motion about “Blue Stockings Week”, an NUS campaign about higher education. Its name recalls the “Blue Stockings Society”, an informal women’s social and educational movement in England in the mid-18th century. 

Here’s a pic from a horrendously sexist comic entitled “Breaking Up of the Blue Stockings Club” in 1815 by some dude called Thomas.  

Justine Amin (Student Unity) from the University of Sydney calls it for what it is – white feminism – a term used to describe feminism that excludes people who are not privileged, white women. 

Other speakers support her, emphasising the importance of “intersectional feminism” – feminism that considers how different oppressions are interlinked in a broad, macro-structure of oppression.

The conversation turns to asylum seekers again, as Hope Lucas (NLS) speaks to how horrendous detention centres are and the treatment of women within them. Socialist Alternative is not having a bar of it. 

Socialist Alternative are against a motion that supports exclusion zones for pro-life protesting outside abortion clinics. They argue that if we allow the state to regulate some protests, it gives them “left cover” to regulate other protests.  

Shannon (NLS) says she has faced harassment and abuse from La Trobe Unity men. 

Alisha Aitken-Radburn (Student Unity) speaks on behalf of two women – Grace and Erin (a mother) – who are Liberals, who wanted to speak on childcare policy. After her speech she flashes her middle finger at Socialist Alternative with a cheeky grin and a Liberal student blows them kisses. 

We’re getting tired and we’re hungry. Sorry if the delirium starts to show, it’s 12.21am and there is still a lot to go. 

Honi Soit December 9, 201511:57 pm

Women’s policy now! A range of uninspiring topics – Socialist Alternative saying their NUS Women’s Officer was the best one ever, Alisha Aitken-Radburn (Student Unity) and Emma Boogaerdt (National Independents) flatly denying those claims; the tax on sanitary products, women and deregulation, the pay gap etc.

It gets a bit more juicy with a motion about “Blue Stockings Week”, the campaign that NUS has historically run about about higher education. Its name recalls the “Blue Stockings Society”, an informal women’s social and educational movement in England in the mid-18th century. 

Here’s a pic from a horrendously sexist comic entitled “Breaking Up of the Blue Stockings Club” in 1815 by some dude called Thomas for some historical context.

Justine Amin (Student Unity) from the University of Sydney calls it for what it is – white feminism – a term used to describe feminism that excludes people who are not privileged, white women. 

Other speakers support her, emphasising the importance of “intersectional feminism”, feminism that considers how different oppressions are interlinked in a broad, macro-structure of oppression.

The conversation turns to asylum seekers again, as Hope Lucas (NLS) speaks to how horrendous detention centres are and the treatment of women within them. Socialist Alternative is not having a bar of it. 

A lot of kind cross-factional words are shared about Heidi La Paglia (NLS) who organised Network of Women Students Australia (NOWSA) conference, a less-factional, workshop and skills based feminist version of NUS held annually. Heidi is also the prospective NUS Women’s Officer. 

Honi Soit December 10, 201512:36 am

Women’s policy now! A range of uninspiring topics – Socialist Alternative saying their NUS Women’s Officer was the best one ever, Alisha Aitken-Radburn (Student Unity) and Emma Boogaerdt (National Independents) flatly denying those claims; the tax on sanitary products, women and deregulation, the pay gap etc.

It get’s a bit more juicy with a motion about “Blue Stockings Week”, an NUS campaign about higher education. Its name recalls the “Blue Stockings Society”, an informal women’s social and educational movement in England in the mid-18th century. 

Here’s a pic from a horrendously sexist comic entitled “Breaking Up of the Blue Stockings Club” in 1815 by some dude called Thomas.  

Justine Amin (Student Unity) from the University of Sydney calls it for what it is – white feminism – a term used to describe feminism that excludes people who are not privileged, white women. 

Other speakers support her, emphasising the importance of “intersectional feminism” – feminism that considers how different oppressions are interlinked in a broad, macro-structure of oppression.

The conversation turns to asylum seekers again, as Hope Lucas (NLS) speaks to how horrendous detention centres are and the treatment of women within them. Socialist Alternative is not having a bar of it. 

Socialist Alternative are against a motion that supports exclusion zones for pro-life protesting outside abortion clinics. They argue that if we allow the state to regulate some protests, it gives them “left cover” to regulate other protests.  

Shannon (NLS) says she has faced harassment and abuse from La Trobe Unity men. 

Alisha Aitken-Radburn (Student Unity) speaks on behalf of two women – Grace and Erin (a mother) – who are Liberals, who wanted to speak on childcare policy. After her speech she flashes her middle finger at Socialist Alternative with a cheeky grin and a Liberal student blows them kisses. 

We’re getting tired and we’re hungry. Sorry if the delirium starts to show, it’s 12.21am and there is still a lot to go. Women’s policy is done. 

Honi Soit December 10, 201512:57 am

Odette Shenfield (Independent) has moved a policy against nuclear energy. President Rose Steele reads out her well researched and written motion. Instead of speaking herself, Shenfield is reading a statement written by Roxley Foley, an Indigenous man and the fire keeper of the Tent Embassy in Canberra. Here’s an excerpt of the speech:


Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) 
acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land. He speaks about the self-directed fight of the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, who the University of Sydney SRC supported this year, as an example of “intersectional activism”. Two other speakers follow in the same vein. 

The motion passes, despite Unity members voting against it or abstaining. Unity abstained, despite their previous position being pro-nuclear. 

Constitutional policy now, I may well and truly fall asleep. 
Honi Soit December 10, 20151:02 am

Odette Shenfield (National Independents) has moved a policy against nuclear energy. President Rose Steele reads out her well researched and written motion. Instead of speaking herself, Shenfield is reading a statement written by Roxley Foley, an Indigenous man and the fire keeper of the Tent Embassy in Canberra. Here’s an excerpt of the speech:


Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) 
acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land. He also speaks about the self-directed fight of the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, who the University of Sydney SRC supported this year, as an example of “intersectional activism”. Two other speakers follow in the same vein. 

The motion passes, despite Unity members abstaining. Their previous factional position was pro-nuclear, with members of Unity actually moving motions that NUS should have a pro-nuclear position. 

Constitutional policy now, I may well and truly fall asleep. 
Honi Soit December 10, 20151:42 am

Constitutional changes. The first one is about state branches. Unity moves a motion to do away with them, arguing that they are largely inactive. Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) speaks. They point to the history of state office bearers being paid and having a budget (neither of which remains true) in a pre-VSU era and urges NUS to continue fighting for that situation in future. In spite of this, the motion passes, sayonara state branches!

Socialist Alternative is in front of us, behaving like children. They are wrestling each other and bullying one of the speakers for the way he speaks. 

James Giancono (National Independents) proposes that the affiliation fee per student be reduced so that less fee waivers need to be submitted. 

The entire room shouts him down, calling him a “scab”, until a vote is called and he loses terribly, with only a handful of other Independents voting with him. We stand with Giancono, he’s alright. 

At this point in the night, I predicted that delegates would either be apathetic or hyper-active. Much to my dismay, the latter has ensued. Indigenous policy next. 

Honi Soit December 10, 20152:01 am

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) policy. Despite outrage last year that ATSI policy was left to last and early in the morning/late at night, the same thing has happened again.


The controversial issue of constitutional recognition and the “Recognise” campaign is raised. Several students speak strongly against it. Enoch Mailangi, a day observer without a faction, delivers a scathing speech on the issue. 

Mailangi echoes the words of previous speakers – that a majority of the Indigenous community does not want recognition. He goes further to talk about the Northern Territory intervention and the failure of NUS to properly fund ATSI roles.

Despite numerous Indigenous students saying they do not support the Recognise campaign, the motion passes. The motion does not explicitly support the campaign and explicitly commits to engaging dissenting voices. 

Honi Soit December 10, 20152:07 am

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) policy. Despite outrage last year that ATSI policy was left to last and early in the morning, the same thing has happened again.


The controversial issue of constitutional recognition and the “Recognise” campaign is raised. Several students speak strongly against it. Enoch Mailangi, a day observer without a faction, delivers a scathing speech on the issue. 


Mailangi
echoes the words of previous speakers – that a majority of the Indigenous community does not want recognition. He goes further to talk about the Northern Territory intervention and the failure of NUS to properly fund ATSI roles.

Despite numerous Indigenous students saying they do not support the Recognise campaign, the motion passes. The motion itself does not express support for the Recognise campaign and explicitly agrees to educate people on dissenting views within the community. 

Honi Soit December 10, 20152:16 am

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) policy. Despite outrage last year that ATSI policy was left to last and early in the morning/late at night, the same thing has happened again.


The controversial issue of constitutional recognition and the “Recognise” campaign is raised. Several students speak strongly against it. Enoch Mailangi, a day observer without a faction, delivers a scathing speech. 

Mailangi echoes the words of previous speakers in saying that a majority of the Indigenous community does not want constitutional recognition. He goes further to talk about the Northern Territory intervention and the failure of NUS to properly fund ATSI roles.

Despite numerous Indigenous students saying they do not support the Recognise campaign, the motion passes. The motion does not support the campaign, and explicitly encourages engaging with dissenting voices. 

Honi Soit December 10, 20152:21 am

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) policy. Despite outrage last year that ATSI policy was left to last and early in the morning/late at night, the same thing has happened again.


The controversial issue of constitutional recognition and the “Recognise” campaign is raised. Several students speak strongly against it. Enoch Mailangi, a day observer without a faction, delivers a scathing speech on the issue. 


Mailangi
echoes the words of previous speakers – that a majority of the Indigenous community does not want recognition. He goes further to talk about the Northern Territory intervention and the failure of NUS to properly fund ATSI roles.

Despite numerous Indigenous students saying they do not support the Recognise campaign, the motion passes. The motion does not actively support the campaign and explicitly commits to engaging dissenting voices. 

Honi Soit December 10, 20152:38 am

It’s now 2am. Delegates are bleary-eyed and have stretched themselves artistically over foldaway chairs.

A messy end is expected, like delirious marathon runners stumbling
over the ticker tape.

Doesn’t seem like the best time to discuss  ~admin policy~, but here we go.

Cam Petrie (Unity, RMIT) speaks in favour of very general policies to increase the number of affiliated campuses. USyd’s own Robby Magyar (Unity) has similar sentiments and calls for more boots on the ground during O-day recruitment. 

Max Murphy (NLS, UTS) also speaks in favour of exapnding NUS’ reach in a rare example of bipartisanship. Carried.

Sinaed (NLS, Monash) explains NUS got a brand-spankin’ new website this year and speaks in favour of providing training for incoming OBs. SAlt delegate uses opportunity to talk about firefighters (like we said: the ticker tape). 

Carried.

Pat Dollard (Grassroots), speaks in favour of abolishing NUS’ environment department (currently SAlt territory), whose role he believes has been made redundant by third-parties (collectives, other environmental organisation) and SAlt’s apparent inactivity in the role. 

Current Envrionmental Officer, Carl Jackson (SAlt), provides a terse reply. SAlt chant “one more year” en loop. Carried: enviro portfolio now likely to be abolished…tiiimberrr!

On to the topic of improved office-bearer handovers (audit highlighted a distinct absence of these from year-to-year). Carried, so the Union commits to better handovers.

Honi Soit December 10, 20152:40 am

It’s now 2am. Delegates are bleary-eyed and have stretched themselves artistically over foldaway chairs.

A messy end is expected, like delirious marathon runners stumbling
over the ticker tape.

Doesn’t seem like the best time to discuss  ~admin policy~, but here we go.

Cam Petrie (Unity, RMIT) speaks in favour of very general policies to increase the number of affiliated campuses. USyd’s own Robby Magyar (Unity) has similar sentiments and calls for more boots on the ground during O-day recruitment. 

Max Murphy (NLS, UTS) also speaks in favour of exapnding NUS’ reach in a rare example of bipartisanship. Carried.

Sinead (NLS, Monash) explains NUS got a brand-spankin’ new website this year and speaks in favour of providing training for incoming OBs. SAlt delegate uses opportunity to talk about firefighters (like we said: the ticker tape). 

Carried.

Pat Dollard (Grassroots), speaks in favour of abolishing NUS’ environment department (currently SAlt territory), whose role he believes has been made redundant by third-parties (collectives, other environmental organisation) and SAlt’s apparent inactivity in the role. 

Current Envrionmental Officer, Carl Jackson (SAlt), provides a terse reply. SAlt chant “one more year” en loop. Carried: enviro portfolio now likely to be abolished…tiiimberrr!

On to the topic of improved office-bearer handovers (audit highlighted a distinct absence of these from year-to-year). Carried, so the Union commits to better handovers.

Honi Soit December 10, 20152:59 am

Now for a number of policies proposed by Robby Magyar (Unity, USyd).

Magyanimous Magyar refuses to discuss media transparency, despite him penning a motion to discuss it.

Bizarre.

Jason Giacono (NatI, Curtin) speaks against the video and photography gag imposed at the very beginning of the conference. Cites the UK NUS’ live-streaming of their NatCon as a precedent that our own NUS should follow.

Now 3am. Casualties are accruing. 

One tired delegate has made the faux-timber lino in front of the media area her bed. 

On to unionism… 

Delegates fuelled by adrenaline and Red Bull.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:12 am

Liam Carrigan (GRL, USyd)  reinvigorates the floor with him tradmark enthusiasm. Mostly gestural motions now, in support of unionism.

A Unity “anti-union scum” delegate is not making friends as speaks in favour of reduction of weekend penalty rates. SAlt all over him, like a rash.

Now bedtime for SAlt, they have left the conference hall just as office bearer speeches have begun. In reality, there is little purpose in these speeches; factional backroom deals have already decided the outcome.

NUS President Rose Steele says Periscoping is still not allowed.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:24 am

Presidential nominees:

1. Sinead Colee (NLS, Monash): A militant, well articulated speech calling VC’s out to ball.
General Secretary nominees:

1. Cameron Petrie (NLS, RMIT): A structured, stable speech for a role calls for that calls for a structured, stable fiscal approach. Finished by thanking “God, Lambros and the SDA”.

2. Brendan Spackman-Williams (NI, Swinburne): Independent who keeps tabs on how many clauses are breached at every NatCon. This is his 4th NatCon and 10th NUS organised conference.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:26 am

Presidential nominees:

1. Sinead Colee (NLS, Monash): A militant, confrontational speech calling VC’s out to ball.

General Secretary nominees:
1. Cameron Petrie (NLS, RMIT): A structured, stable speech for a role calls for that calls for a structured, stable fiscal approach. Finished by thanking “God, Lambros and the SDA”.

2. Brendan Spackman-Williams (NI, Swinburne): Independent who keeps tabs on how many clauses are breached at every NatCon. This is his 10th NatCon.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:26 am

Presidential nominees:

1. Sinead Colee (NLS, Monash): A militant, confrontational speech calling VC’s out to ball.

General Secretary nominees:

1. Cameron Petrie (NLS, RMIT): A structured, stable speech for a role that calls for a structured, stable fiscal approach. Finished by thanking “God, Lambros and the SDA”.

2. Brendan Spackman-Williams (NI, Swinburne): Independent who keeps tabs on how many clauses are breached at every NatCon. This is his 10th NatCon.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:30 am

It’s now 2am. Delegates are bleary-eyed and have stretched themselves artistically over foldaway chairs.

A messy end is expected, like delirious marathon runners stumbling over the ticker tape.

Doesn’t seem like the best time to discuss  ~admin policy~, but here we go.

Cam Petrie (Unity, RMIT) speaks in favour of very general policies to increase the number of affiliated campuses. USyd’s own Robby Magyar (Unity) has similar sentiments and calls for more boots on the ground during O-day recruitment. 

Max Murphy (NLS, UTS) also speaks for expanding NUS’ reach in a rare example of bipartisanship. Carried.

Sinead (NLS, Monash) explains NUS got a brand-spankin’ new website this year  wants to provie more training on how to use it for incoming OBs. SAlt delegate uses opportunity to talk about firefighters (ticker tape). Carried.

Pat Dollard (Grassroots), speaks in favour of abolishing NUS’ environment department (currently SAlt territory), whose role he believes has been made redundant by third-parties (collectives, other environmental organisation) and SAlt’s apparent inactivity in the role. 

Current Envrionmental Officer, Carl Jackson (SAlt), provides a terse reply. SAlt chant “one more year” en loop. Carried: enviro portfolio now likely to be abolished…tiiimberrr!

On to the topic of improved office-bearer handovers (audit highlighted a distinct absence of these from year-to-year). Carried, so the Union commits to better handovers.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:31 am

Now for a bloc of policies proposed by Robby Magyar (Unity, USyd).

The Magyanimous Magyar refuses to discuss media transparency, despite him authoring a motion to discuss it.

Bizarre.

Jason Giacono (NatI, Curtin) speaks against the video and photography gag imposed at the very beginning of the conference. Cites the UK NUS’ live-streaming of their NatCon as a precedent that our own NUS should follow.

Now 3am. Casualties are accruing. 

One tired delegate has made the faux-timber lino in front of the media area her bed. 

On to unionism… 

Delegates are running on adrenaline and Red Bull.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:39 am

Welfare nominees:

1. Robby Magyar (Unity, USyd): “For those in the room that don’t know me, and I assume that’s no one, my name’s Robby Magyar”. Well the kid’s got gumption, we’ll give him that. He says he wrote half the proposed welfare policies this year.

2. Liam Carrigan (GRL, USyd): “My view on Robby is: I want to forgive you but I want to forget you”. Says NUS needs less factionalism and more cohesion, a mass movement. Says an opportunity was missed after the defeat of deregulation to push for free education.

3.45am now. Time is a sieve, fining-out factions.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:46 am

Welfare nominees:

1. Robby Magyar (Unity, USyd): “For those in the room that don’t know me, and I assume that’s no one, my name’s Robby Magyar”. Well the kid’s got gumption, we’ll give him that. He says he wrote half the proposed welfare policies this year.

2. Liam Carrigan (GRL, USyd): “My view on Robby is: I want to forgive you but I want to forget you”. Says NUS needs less factionalism and more cohesion, a mass movement. An opportunity was missed after the defeat of deregulation to push for free education.

3.45am now. Time is a sieve, fining-out factions.

Honi Soit December 10, 20153:49 am

Speeches continue. Honi leaves after a particularly moving speech from Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots), who, at this point, has been locked out of the National Queer Officer position. 

He emphasises that he is the Queer Collaborations – the national conference for queer students – endorsed candidate. 

We leave, because we’re exhausted. After we have left, we hear that Odette Shenfield (Independent) gave a ruthless speech for NUS National Education Officer. She condemned the failure of the conference floor to discuss Environment policy and the incompetence of all past national Environment Officers. 
Honi Soit December 10, 20151:08 pm

Presidential nominees:

1. Sinead Colee (NLS, Monash): A militant, well articulated speech calling VC’s out to ball.
General Secretary nominees:
1. Cameron Petrie (NLS, RMIT): A structured, stable speech for a role that calls for a structured, stable approach. Finished by thanking “God, Lambros and the SDA”.

2. Brendan Spackman-Williams (NI, Swinburne): Independent who keeps tabs on how many clauses are breached at every NatCon. This is his 4th NatCon and 10th NUS organised conference.

Honi Soit December 10, 20151:12 pm

Constitutional changes. The first one is about state branches. Unity urges everyone not to do away with them as they are an important part of NUS’ structure. Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) speaks, condemning Unity for protecting these positions as an artificial leg up for their faction members. The motion passes, sayonara state branches!

Socialist Alternative is in front of us, behaving like children. They are wrestling each other and bullying one of the speakers for the way he speaks. 

James Giancono (National Independents) proposes that the affiliation fee per student be reduced so that less fee waivers need to be submitted. 

The entire room shouts him down, calling him a “scab”, until a vote is called and he loses terribly, with only a handful of other Independents voting with him. We stand with Giancono, he’s alright. 

At this point in the night, I predicted delegates would either be apathetic or hyper-active. Much to my dismay, the latter has ensued. Indigenous policy next. 

Honi Soit December 10, 20151:21 pm

We are continuing with queer policy! Robby Magyar (Unity) opposes the term “queer” as it is overly academic. He decries the “tiny little bubble that is identity politics” (despite otherwise constantly relying on its rhetoric) and calls collectives “naval gazing”. Instead, he proposes LGBTI as a better option. 

Apparently when Magyar went to “cog” – jargon for the process that allows a motion to be debated – the motion was eaten by NLS. 

Sorry, to clarify, pieces of paper were literally consumed, as one might do an apple or coffee. 

The consumption is not just symbolic. This means that there are people in this room with fragments of paper being broken down by their stomach acid, simply because they do not like people disagreeing with them. This is a commonplace occurrence, many factions engage in it.

Onto the motion, it has caused quite the debate! Socialist Alternative and Unity have again becoming unlikely friends – both focusing on the lack of widespread use of the term and its history as a slur, making LGBTI a more practical and inclusive option. The newly formed relationship between the two warring factions escalates, until Robby Magyar commends a past NUS Queer Officer from their faction to raucous applause in response. 

Against the motion, Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) explains that decades of political struggle have given people power to reclaim the term. Stephanie Morgan (NLS) takes the podium with wild applause from her faction. At it’s peak, Morgan condemns the “fucking gatriarchy”, as Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) recklessly fist pumps to the point his right forearm has taken on a life of its own.  

The speaking list is exhausted, a vote is called. The motion carries, the Unity-Socialist Alternative Coalition wi- NO, a campus count has been called. 

Each delegate has a vote with a different value (determined through a very complex system), a campus count is utilised only in extreme, close circumstances. 

After the count, the result remains unchanged. 1154 votes for the motion, 912 against the motion and 45 abstentions; the motion is carried. 

Honi Soit December 10, 20151:40 pm

Welfare nominees:

1. Robby Magyar (Unity, USyd): “For those in the room that don’t know me, and I assume that’s no one, my name’s Robby Magyar”. Well the kid’s got gumption, we’ll give him that. He says he wrote half the proposed welfare policies this year.

2. Liam Carrigan (GRL, USyd): “My view on Robby is: I want to forgive you but I want to forget you”. Says NUS needs less factionalism and more cohesion, a mass movement. Says an opportunity was missed after the defeat of deregulation to push for free education.

3.45am now. Time is a sieve, fining-out factions.

Honi Soit December 10, 20151:40 pm

Presidential nominees:

1. Sinead Colee (NLS, Monash): A militant, well articulated speech calling VC’s out to ball.
General Secretary nominees:

1. Cameron Petrie (NLS, RMIT): A structured, stable speech for a role calls for that calls for a similar approach to the books. Finished by thanking “God, Lambros [Takinos] and the SDA”.

2. Brendan Spackman-Williams (NI, Swinburne): Independent who keeps tabs on how many clauses are breached at every NatCon. This is his 4th NatCon and 10th NUS organised conference.

Honi Soit December 10, 20154:52 pm

Good afternoon, it’s been a slow final day of conference.

Today is ‘ballot day’, when factions and delegates vote for who they want as members of national executive. Last night, as we touched on in this blog, some candidates gave speeches, but on the whole it’s already stitched up.

This humble live-blogger has been trying to take photos all morning, but was blocked by security guards at the conference floor, despite pleading with the Returning Officer and conference organisers.

So far: 

– Liberals earlier tossed all their votes into the air and there was a mad scramble to pick them up.

– We’ve seen factional leaders in hushed but intense conversations with each other in corridors and on balconies, no doubt hashing out deals at the last minute.

– There is apparently an end-of-conference party tonight after ballots finish. It is yet unclear whether this will be a Somersby’s-on-the-grass affairs or a more above board event.

I’ll do a Periscope in a few minutes for people to ask any questions they have and to do a wrap up.

Honi Soit December 10, 20159:08 pm

We decided to go back to the city a day early as the Labor factions descended into their drinking and chants. We left feeling hopeful – Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) was likely to get National Queer Officer. 

Despite our reporting yesterday, early this morning, a deal was struck with the National Independents, Grassroots and NLS to secure Dylan the position. What prompted the deal to be secured so last minute is uncertain, but after listening to Dylan give a compelling speech last night (/early morning), we think that may have had an effect. 

Dylan was also the only person to give a speech. They spoke about their previous experience with NUS, as a UNSW Queer Officer and with AQSN. As we were on our way out, we stopped and listened at the door, hopeful for this factional, dysfunctional organisation.

In the middle of the day, after ballots had been cast, there was some talk that Socialist Alternative had made moves to prevent Dylan getting the position. 

As we have sat down to dinner, it has been confirmed. Dylan did not get National Queer Officer. The two elected members are Clare Francis (Socialist Alternative) and April Holcombe (Socialist Alternative). 

The margin between Clare and Dylan was incredibly close (within 100 votes). However, as Clare does not identify as a woman, affirmative action provisions knocked our Dylan. As a result, April Holcombe took the second position, with only 16 votes. 

April Holcombe did not attend the NUS National Conference this year. She is a student at the University of Sydney. 

Here are the rest of the numbers, they are as we were told. No surprises, except the devastating blow to Dylan, the Queer Collaborations pre-selected candidate for the National Queer Officer position. Dylan moved a lot of motions in the queer policy block and spoke to many of them. 

President – Sinead Colley (NLS), 1415 votes

Women’s Officer – Heidi La Paglia (NLS), 1351 votes

General Secretary – Cameron Petrie (Unity), 1388 votes

Queer Officer – Clare Francis (Socialist Alternative), 1048 votes; April Holcombe (Socialist Alternative), 16 votes. 

Welfare Officer – Robby Magyar (Student Unity), 1418 votes.

Environment Officer – Isabel Manfield, 1351 votes

Education Officer – Max Murphy (NLS), 1494 votes.

Ethnocultural Officer – Betty Belay (NLS), 1346 votes

We are going to dig into our noodle soup now, but we will be back with more updates later tonight. 

Honi Soit December 10, 20159:12 pm

We decided to go back to the city a day early as the Labor factions descended into their drinking and chants. We left feeling hopeful – Dylan Lloyd (Grassroots) was likely to get National Queer Officer. 

Despite our reporting yesterday, early this morning, a deal was struck with the Liberals, National Independents, Grassroots and NLS to secure Dylan the position. What prompted the deal to be secured so last minute is uncertain, but after listening to Dylan give a compelling speech last night (/early morning), we think that may have had an effect. 

Dylan was also the only person to give a speech. He spoke about his previous experience with NUS, as a UNSW Queer Officer and with AQSN. As we were on our way out, we stopped and listened at the door, hopeful for this factional, dysfunctional organisation.

In the middle of the day, after ballots had been cast, there was some talk that Socialist Alternative had made moves to prevent Dylan getting the position. 

As we have sat down to dinner, it has been confirmed. Dylan did not get National Queer Officer. The two elected members are Clare Francis (Socialist Alternative) and April Holcombe (Socialist Alternative). 

The margin between Clare and Dylan was incredibly close (within 100 votes). However, as Clare does not identify as a woman, affirmative action provisions knocked out Dylan. As a result, April Holcombe took the second position, with only 16 votes. 

April Holcombe did not attend the NUS National Conference this year. She is a student at the University of Sydney. 

Here are the rest of the numbers, they are as we were told. No surprises, except the devastating blow to Dylan, the Queer Collaborations pre-selected candidate for the National Queer Officer position. Dylan moved a lot of motions in the queer policy bloc and spoke to many of them. 

President – Sinead Colley (NLS), 1415 votes

Women’s Officer – Heidi La Paglia (NLS), 1351 votes

General Secretary – Cameron Petrie (Unity), 1388 votes

Queer Officer – Clare Francis (Socialist Alternative), 1048 votes; April Holcombe (Socialist Alternative), 16 votes. 

Welfare Officer – Robby Magyar (Student Unity), 1418 votes.

Environment Officer – Isabel Manfield, 1351 votes
Education Officer – Max Murphy (NLS), 1494 votes.

Ethnocultural Officer – Betty Belay (NLS), 1346 votes

We are going to dig into our noodle soup now, but we will be back with more updates later tonight. 

Honi Soit December 11, 20152:10 pm

Our final FINAL post here:

We will be writing up some NatCon wrap up pieces in the coming days/weeks, so follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates. 

Your dedicated live-bloggers have been Tom Joyner, Subeta Vimalarajah and Alexandros Tsathas. We’re all 2016 editors of Honi Soit

Thanks for following along, self-interested hacks and dear readers watching from home. We wish we could have shown you what we witnessed via Periscope

If you believe there to be a mistake in our coverage, send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or email us and we’ll amend it. 

Thanks and congratulations to Caleb Triscari of Farrago (Melbourne Uni), Claudia Long of Catalyst (RMIT), as well as Martin Ditmann (former Farrago editor) for their help and for braving the shitstorm with us.  

A special thank you also to Cameron Caccamo (National Independents), who shared resources with us, kept us updated the whole time and supported us in our (failed) fight for Periscoping rights.

Nothing could have properly prepared us for NatCon.  
To all elected national executive office bearers, congratulations. We look forward to seeing what you do with NUS in 2016.  

As for our own coverage, we were lucky enough to be funded by the Sydney Uni SRC. Our flights and registration was covered. Other student publications aren’t so lucky. Some of our fellow media friends had to partially cover their registration and others could not make it at all due to the prohibitively expensive media observer fees. 

The draconian censorship rules and culture that is not open to criticism also make it uninviting for student media. Let’s hope next year more student publications can make it down. Until then, you’ll have to rely on our Australian-style reporting.

Honi Soit December 11, 20152:38 pm

Our final FINAL post here:

We’ve made it to the end of a truly gruelling week.

We’ll be writing up some NatCon wrap up pieces in the coming days/weeks to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates. 

Your dedicated live-bloggers have been Tom Joyner, Subeta Vimalarajah and Alexandros Tsathas. We’re all 2016 editors of Honi Soit

Thanks for following along, dear readers watching from home. We only wish we could have shown you via Periscope what we witnessed. 

If you believe there to be a mistake in our coverage, send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or email us and we’ll amend it. 

Thanks and congratulations to Caleb Triscari of Farrago (Melbourne Uni), Claudia Long of Catalyst (RMIT), as well as Martin Ditmann (former Farrago editor) for their help and for braving the shitstorm with us.  

A special thank you also to Cameron Caccamo (National Independents), who shared resources with us, kept us updated the whole time and supported us in our (failed) fight for Periscoping rights.
Nothing could have properly prepared us for NatCon.  

To all elected national executive office bearers, congratulations. We look forward to seeing what you do with NUS in 2016.  

As for our own coverage, we were lucky enough to be funded by the Sydney Uni SRC to fly down for the week to cover the national conference. Other student publications aren’t so lucky because of prohibitively expensive media observer fees. 

The draconian censorship rules at NatCon don’t help either. Let’s hope next year more student publications can make it down:

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

Michael Spence

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