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SUPRA expels councillor over harassment allegations

The Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) council has voted to expel an councillor following allegations of harassment and breaches of its Code of Conduct.

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The Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) council has voted to expel councillor and former Indigenous Officer Michael Butler, following allegations of harassment and breaches of its Code of Conduct.

A seven-page Grievance Report was available at the council’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held last Thursday.

“The Grievance Committee found that Mr. Butler’s behaviour towards Complainant 1 violated the SUPRA Code of Conduct and SUPRA Safer Spaces Charter by swearing, raising his voice, and following Complainant 1 to the kitchen and her office door as she was attempting to leave the situation,” the report stated.

Honi understands the disagreement partly stemmed from an objection to a slogan on Butler’s shirt.

After half-an-hour of debate, 27 councillors voted for the motion, and five voted against. There were no abstentions.

Butler was absent at the meeting. He is currently volunteering with Indigenous communities in Kakadu.

Butler told Honi, “The presidents of SUPRA pushed ahead with the motion for my removal with full knowledge that I wouldn’t be there to speak on it. That is a fundamental breach of natural justice in itself and all through this process I haven’t been given a fair go”.

Lily Matchett, SUPRA Co-President and Chair of the EGM, told Honi, “Mike would not be allowed in the meeting anyway. We do not have the complainants here to speak to the allegations either”.

Butler also told Honi: “I have been the only independent Aboriginal councillor since 2014 and have gone on to become the most feared and disliked person within it.

“This means I’m doing my job. SUPRA is a nest of deal-making, ideal-compromising student politicians who think they know better than anybody else.

“Whether you’re indigenous or not, a fair and fearless indigenous voice on council that sticks up for those who deserve it (overseas students, disadvantaged, my people, humanity in general) and sticks it up the political elite is something that’s not only a good thing, quite frankly, it’s needed.”

This was the second attempt to remove Butler from the council. The first attempt, in February, failed when the meeting became inquorate.

The Grievance Report estimated 30 hours had been spent on the grievance process prior to the meeting per member of the grievance committee.