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SRC office bearers finally appointed with collective autonomy breached

Wednesday night's meeting bookended the long-running RepsElect saga with all positions filled.

Honi Presents: RepsElect 4eva

The fourth and final RepsElect took place on Wednesday night at Wallace Theatre, filling all remaining positions for SRC office bearers (OBs). 97 days since the first RepsElect and after three previously unsuccessful attempts at electing OBs, the proceedings signify a dramatic reconfiguration of the SRC. This has major implications for multiple collectives on campus, with the Women’s Collective finally being rolled.

Wednesday’s meeting began with 13 abstentions, but opened at 6:29pm with 19 councillors present and additional proxies. Dane Luo took the role of Acting President (Shake Up/Independent) whilst President Jacky He (Panda) was on leave.

The meeting was immediately marred by debate over a contentious motion raised by Luo to have a zero minute speaking time before each vote. Whilst the motion was initially passed by the majority bloc, there was intense resistance from the minority bloc. In particular, observer Jack Mansell (SAlt) brought the meeting to a stalemate. Grassroots councillors highlighted the majority bloc’s hypocrisy for denying students the right to speak, while Mansell called the meeting “pretty fucking disgraceful,” and loudly denounced the SRC’s lack of transparency until he was escorted out by three members of campus security.

After failed attempts to extend speaking time to one minute, 59 seconds then 58 seconds, Niamh Callinan (Unity) proposed a compromise to cap speaking time at 30 seconds, which passed.

One of the night’s biggest flashpoints was the election of the Wom*n’s Officers, a controversy that stalled previous RepsElects. This role has historically been filled by preselected candidates from the Women’s Collective, but this was contested by two other candidates put forward by the majority bloc.

Women’s Collective Convenors, Jazz Breen and Layla Mkh gave a speech before voting began.

“Anyone who doesn’t vote for the preselected candidates are not feminists. They are terrible, sexist human beings. I don’t care what you think you are standing for, you are not standing against violence and sexual assault. So fuck you. That’s all for today,” they said.

In spite of this and amidst calls of “shame” from the audience, the majority bloc elected Gabi Stricker-Phelps (Shake Up) and Crystal Xu (Panda) with 16 votes, against Mkh and Breen’s 13. There were four abstentions—two from Unity and two allegedly from the Soft Right comprising Zac O’Farrell (Ban the Socialist Alternative) and Hartley Dhyon (Students First).

Motions to increase the number of councillors in the SRC to 35 also failed, despite Returning Officer Karen Chau stating that an increase in student numbers on campus mandates a proportional increase in student representation on the SRC.

After all OBs were successfully elected, the general business component of the meeting began, with an unusual motion from James Ardouin (Colleges for SRC) to censure O’Farrell for “attempt(ing) to blackmail the organisation by preventing the organisations’ democratic process and hypocritically acting against the best interests of the students he claimed to represent.” O’Farrell prevented RepsElect 3 from taking place by withdrawing quorum.

The motion passed with 14 votes, although censure motions carry functionally no weight in the SRC.

Although all office bearer positions have been filled, it remains to be seen whether the SRC will be sufficiently prepared for Welcome Week and other planned policy initiatives to come.

View Honi’s liveblog and live stream for a list of all elected councillors and updates on the night’s events.

More to come.