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NUS Education Officer censured over ANZAC Day post

Honi understands that all members of the National Executive who approved the motion are members of the two Labor factions: Student Unity and National Labor Students.

The Education Officer of the National Union of Students (NUS), Xavier Dupe, has been censured over public statements he made without the authorisation of NUS President, Bailey Riley.

NUS National Secretary, Sheldon Gait, a member of Student Unity (Labor Right), moved the motion, which was seconded by Riley, a member of National Labor Students (NLS), a Labor Left faction.

The motion was passed nearly unanimously by the NUS’ National Executive, with only ACT Branch President Luke Manning (independent) voting against. Honi understands that all members of the National Executive who approved the motion are members of the two Labor factions.

The censure related comments provided by Dupe, a member of Socialist Alternative, to Honi Soit in February and to Political Alert in April. The motion said “the pinnacle” of Dupe’s allegedly unauthorised comments was a Facebook post Dupe made through the NUS Education Department Facebook page calling on students to oppose ANZAC Day.

“This post was disgusting, an insult to all Australians and goes against the values of this board and the organisation,” the motion read.

Dupe’s alleged breach of the NUS’ bylaws was the basis for the censure. They state that the President is responsible for “authorising and acting as the publisher of all publications of NUS.”  To publish material, the National President (or their nominee) “must have access to all material prior to publication; and may, in consultation with NUS’s solicitor, stop publication of the material.”

The motion stated “The National Executive condemns the NUS Education Departments [sic] Oppose Anzac Day post. This statement is not reflective of the organisation’s values or opinions.

“The National Executive censures the Education Officer and directs them to not release statements without approval from the National President as required by the bylaws.

“That any posts or statements released without approval of the National President are NOT statements made on behalf of the NUS and are NOT reflective of the organisation or board’s values and opinions…

“That if the National Education Officer continues to violate the regulations and bylaws of the organisation they will be sanctioned, and the National Secretary will suspend their budget and access to NUS resources.”

Dupe told Honi, “The censure is outrageous for two reasons. First, it’s a right-wing attempt to censor an office bearer for opposing war and militarism, and more importantly, this represents an attack on an important democratic right … of left minorities to argue their politics, publish, and speak via positions within the union.

“It’s worth saying what I’ve specifically been censured for – publishing material opposing war, opposing HECS indexation, and promoting protests against the housing crisis. These are basic tasks of a left-wing student union officer.”

“This is an attempt to stop socialist office bearers criticising the ALP or push the union to the left.”

“I will continue to act in the best interests of students. That means taking public, left-wing positions that challenge the status quo. As a socialist I will not accept any restriction on my right to speak up as Education Officer about HECS debts, and the rental crisis, or my right to publicly oppose the AUKUS deal.”

Bailey Riley did not respond to Honi’s request for comment.