Deep Tea Diving: Week 5, Semester 2

It's almost election season!

Artwork by Jess Zlotnick

You wish you did law

Libs and non-libs across the country squirmed their way through the leadership spill this week. Students sat in lectures watching muted Sky News while flicking through four tabs of liveblogs. But for a star-struck few, politics appeared, flesh and blood, in the Seymour Centre itself.   

That’s right, disgraced former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari showed up to Thursday night of Law Revue. After hearing Dastyari was in the audience, a cast member ad-libbed a special welcome. “We hope you enjoyed that last number [a song about the South China Sea], but not too much. We wanted to say welcome in the best way we know how. 콱봤,뻑短。剋剋 [Hello, Welcome. Thank you]”.  Word on the street is that Dastyari, himself a Sydney Law dropout, was brought as a guest by none other than Director Lucy Lester’s uncle. 

Or maybe Dastyari was there to get inspo for his own wannabe variety show, Disgrace!, which aired its on Channel 10 last week.  

Charles Firth, a member of The Chaser, also graced Law Revue with his presence. And although annual spectator former High Court Justice Michael Kirby was unable to make it this year, he sent his apologies, saying he was booked out every evening last week. Med Revue, which played concurrently this week, had no notable names to boast. 

It’s a jump to the right …

Worldwide, we’re in the midst of a right-wing renaissance: Donald Trump, Front National, Peter Dutton (close call) and now—USyd? This year’s SRC race will see the debut of two Conservatives for SRC tickets. Normally, the campus right disguises its connection with right-wing politics, which are thought to be stupol electoral poison.  

But upfront though they might be, it’s not clear who the Conservatives actually are. Though they use the name “Conservative”, they’re not members of the USyd Conservative Club. George Bishop, president of the USyd Conservative Club, had this to say: “I wish to distance myself and the club from these people in strong and clear terms.” 

Bishop is a key player in the Moderate Liberals on campus, and his disavowal of the Conservative tickets seems a clear sign they’re not moderates either. Word is, in fact, that they’re hard-right members of the Sydney University Liberal Club. 

It’s far from clear what the Conservative tickets stand for. This little mermaid’s idea of conservatism is Robert Menzies by the fireside, the last bulwark around tradition, family values and the status quo. Which makes ‘Conservatives for Change’, one of this year’s SRC tickets, sound like a contradiction. And there are similar semantic question marks over one Conservative ticket’s promise to “radically reduce the Student Services Amenities Fee”. 

Actually, “reactionary right” might be a better descriptor for these groupings than good old-fashioned conservatism.  All three tickets share typical anti-left concerns, like protecting  “free speech” on campus, opening up left-wing “echo chambers” and ending “undermining of conservatives just because they are conservatives”.  

As for the Modlibs, they’ve been guided by their standard playbook, and taken pains to distance themselves from anything identifiably right-wing. According to Bishop, they’ve “decided to team up with the new independent ‘Shake-up’ group”. Which makes Shake Up sound like an already existing, electorally eager bunch which the Modlibs just happened to stumble across and definitely not a set of tickets that the Modlibs created, organised and found candidates for…