The October SRC Meeting was characterised by shouts from all corners of the room, quorum concerns, and late-night regulation checks. With a particularly long list of apologies and proxies, the meeting opened with repeated quorum counts, as the first count suggested the meeting was one councillor short of meeting the twenty-one required.
Reports, reports, and you guessed it, more reports
In her President’s Report, Lia Perkins (Grassroots) congratulated everyone involved in the elections, including incoming President Harrison Brennan (Grassroots) and fellow Presidential candidate Rose Donnelly (NLS). Questions from Socialist Alternative and Labor focussed on Perkins’ work in University committees and whether this was advancing left-wing causes or being communicated with students. Perkins explained that attending committees was part of the role of President and that the work occurring there was shared in her reports. With Labor and SAlt refusing to support the report, the President’s report did not carry.
Deaglan Godwin (SAlt) moved a procedural motion to suspend standing orders to extend the amount of questions allowed to be asked after each report to three. The procedural passed with support from across Council, bar the Liberals. Three questions would be asked for almost every report for the rest of the evening — and the reports section took three hours. These questions were used to ask almost every Grassroots member who spoke about what distinguished their approach to activism from the Labor factions.
The prolonged length of debate after each report prompted Jack Scanlan (NLS) to move a procedural motion to limit the speaking time, before it was quickly withdrawn after conflict within the Labor caucus, with Mikaela Pappou (NLS) warning Scanlan to check motions with the caucus before moving them.
Vice-President Rose Donnelly (NLS), in the absence of co-Vice President Daniel Bowron (Unity), discussed the staffing issues with FoodHub that have led to its reduction in hours and the organising currently occurring for the Voice referendum. Donnelly encouraged other councillors to sign up for phone banking and to get active on social media. Donnelly ended her report with the unattributed quote, “optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence” — a quick Google search suggests that it is a quote from Helen Keller.
General Secretaries Tiger Perkins (Grassroots) and Jasmine Donnelly (NLS) promoted the “Climate Action Now” rally and the “Rally Against Racism: Yes to the Voice!”, and spoke about their work on SSAF funding applications to provide more support for activism and Office Bearer stipends. Education Officers Ishbel Dunsmore (Grassroots) and Yasmine Johnson (SAlt) spoke about the activism of the SRC and their recent disruption of the Times Higher Education summit. Iggy Boyd (Grassroots) delivered the Womens’ Officers’ report, discussing the recent work occurring for the upcoming Radical Pride and Consent Week.
Disabilities Officers Jack Scanlan (NLS) and Khanh Tran spoke about the launch of the Disabilities Room and Disabled Honi later this semester. They brought a physical copy of the results of the Disability Royal Commission to accompany their report, and emphasised the importance of the results. Jamie Bridge (SLA) delivered the Queer Officers’ report and spoke of recent QuAC events and the gender affirmation supplies drive. The Environment Officers’ report was (mainly) delivered by Simon Upitis (SAlt) and Maddie Clark (SAlt) who promoted the Rising Tide blockade, calling for more support from the other factions.
As the campus Liberals made their unwanted return to Council, Satvik Sharma spent the Global Solidarity report reading out a poem about Rose Donnelly that seems to have been written by ChatGPT (not his first time trying this alleged joke, and not the first time it hasn’t landed). Deaglan Godwin (SAlt) talked about outlining a new future for the SRC, before a question directed to the Liberals sent the meeting once again into chaos.
A procedural moved the meeting to the next report from Interfaith Officer Thomas Thorpe (Liberal), who described justice through an analogy about “pushing a lady in front of the car”. Another Liberal promised that if we listened it would make sense, but at this point that seemed like a challenge. Welfare Officers Ella Haid (SAlt) and Harrison Brennan (Grassroots) condemned the capitulation of the Greens after their support of Labor’s Housing Australia Future Fund in their report.
After a mandated break, the meeting returned to the Refugee Rights Officers’ report, where Annabel Petit (SAlt) described seeing “lots of randoms” during the SRC election and encouraged the other factions to bring those “randoms” (and ten other randoms who those randoms know) along to every rally.
The Social Justice Officers’ report was delivered by Jordan Anderson (Switch) and Julius Whitforth (SAlt). Anderson discussed their work organising for the Voice referendum and Whitforth highlighted how the Religious Discrimination Bill reflects the growing push of the far right. The final report of the night was the First Nations Officer’s report, where Ben McGrory shared his organising work for the Voice Referendum, work on a Student Life Grant to organise a Voice Ball, and intention to organise a future Treaty campaign.
Amidst these final reports, Secretary to Council Julia accurately recorded in the minutes: “Cacophony ensued.”
(Finally) On to the Motions
The focus on the Voice continued into the first motion of the evening which called for the SRC to actively campaign for a Yes vote to fight the racist No campaign, moved by Shovan Bhattarai (SAlt) and seconded by Deaglan Godwin (SAlt). With almost all factions describing that more needed to be done, albeit with different ways to get there, the motion carried.
Motions R8 and R14 were then heard on bloc, both focussing on support for encouraging a Yes vote in the referendum, moved by Rose Donnelly (NLS) and Victor Zhang (Engineers). Maddie Clark (SAlt) spoke about the impact of the progressive No campaign leaving students conflicted about how to vote. Mikaela Pappou (NLS) argued that if the referendum fails, the failure will be “on the shoulders of every left-wing activist here.” Deaglan Godwin (SAlt) shouted back that it would be “on the shoulders of Albanese and the Labor party who’ve stirred up a culture way they knew they couldn’t win”. With the tension increasing, Godwin and Pappou were screaming at each other with such intensity that they were advised to stay two metres apart, with Perkins having to shoo them away from each other.
The next motion, moved by Liberals Satvik Sharma and Thomas Thorpe, was labelled “Motion on the voice” and described the Voice as “divisive, legally unsound and bad for the country”. Yasmine Johnson (SAlt) responded stating that this is the kind of racism that needs to be fought in this debate. Amidst the debate on their own motion, the Liberals left the meeting attempting to pull quorum to force the meeting to end, with Sharma calling for a quorum count as he left the room.
Section 7(c) of the SRC’s regulations require that once a motion is put by the Chair, a quorum count cannot occur until a vote on that motion has been completed. This posed a quandary for the Council, as it was unclear when exactly the Chair had put a motion — particularly whether this was when debate had started or when the vote was called. With uncertainty about how to proceed, debate continued and faction heads started doing the numbers to figure out if they could maintain quorum.
Grace Wallman (Switch), Chair of the Standing Legal Committee, was awoken with an 11pm phone call seeking a ruling on the meaning of the regulation. Simultaneously, Jack Scanlan (NLS), was still speaking to Council, in case they needed more time to get councillors to join on Zoom. At the conclusion of their filibuster, Scanlan (NLS) suggested that Wallman deserved a Kit Kat — I agree (although in my opinion, Lia and Julia also deserved Kit Kats, or you know, an actual break from the chaos of the meeting).
Motions R3, R4, R10, R11, and R12 — all moved by the Liberals — were heard en bloc. These motions included calling for the SRC to “pressure” the Honi Soit editorial team to have an autonomous faith edition, to recognise Italy, to acknowledge God and to endorse certain Liberals as “based individuals”. With no one wanting to debate them and everyone dissenting, the motions all failed unanimously.
Pappou, who seemingly forgot that she wasn’t Vice President anymore and was not the chair of the meeting, called out one of many comments about the regulations made throughout the evening, apparently trying “to speed it up”. These comments did not in fact speed the meeting up… with Perkins having to remind her that she was the chair.
Motion R5 “Support The People’s Blockade in November!” was moved by Maddie Clark (SAlt) and seconded by Tiger Perkins (Grassroots). Despite an argument from Angus Dermody (SLA) about the lack of strategy, the motion passed with no dissent.
Julius Whitforth (SAlt) moved the final motion heard in the meeting, “Q1. Support Oct 22 Protest for LGBTI+ Rights: Defend Trans Rights and Drag Storytime”. The motion carried with no dissent.
With another break about to be called, the meeting had lost quorum — as Penta had left quietly — ending half an hour before its midnight limit. With only RepsElect and the November Council meeting left to go, the 95th Council’s term is almost finished. How much more chaos can ensue? I guess we are (unfortunately) going to find out.