NatCon 2022: Day 2 Wrapped

Smokers of NatCon? Smokers OFF NatCon!

What happens when Stupol hacks gain unlimited access to kreatin and ketamine? Inept bicep curls and a pre-conference Unity gymbros sesh, the vibes of which just scream Satvik Sharma.

Today’s fresh hell (AKA NatCon Day 2) opened with the announcement that Lia Perkins and Ishbel Dunsmore (both Groots) are still without their laptop chargers (Honi suspects foul play). Various items of stationary and a Furphy beanie are also among the lost and found (dibs).

Smokers of NatCon? Smokers OFF NatCon!

Joining NatCon’s repertoire of burgeoning controversies, a smoking area has been set up despite the smoking/vaping ban. The smokers scored a victory over campus security attempting to shut it down (power to the people).

Read on for a recap of today’s highlights.

Hacks Heckling HECS 

Conversations on the floor today centred around issues of education. First in the firing line was the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), with NLS dealing some heavy blows after a motion to call for the abolition of HECS was brought forward by SAlt’s Simon Upitis. A delegate from UQ called the scheme “a fucking death sentence” that will “impact students for the rest of their lives”.

Unity hit back, shouting “if we didn’t have HECS, none of you socialists would even be here!” across the room. RMIT Unity showered the scheme with praise, claiming “HECS is best… for now”.

NUS General Secretary Emily Sagolji (Unity) claimed “free education only helps the wealthy”.

Ex-PM Bob Hawke received a glowing review from Unity, hailed as “the best Prime Minister in this country’s history” (Honi objects to the Whitlam erasure).

Deaglan Godwin (SAlt), notably and lamentably absent from the first day of proceedings, copped flack from Unity, shouting “get a real name” (ouch).

Don’t worry, Deaglan. Honi are just glad you’re here.

Enemies to co-movers arc??

Honi watched, befuddled, as NUS President Georgie Beatty announced “this is a first, we have a joint procedural from Student Unity and Socialist Alternative”.

It turned out the motion was seeking to outlaw laminated ballots. Boring. Motion passed, yet Honi is feeling robbed that a Unity/SAlt alliance wasn’t used for something a bit more exciting. Unity later teamed up with NLS to rescind the motion. Shame.

On the menu: bosses, unions and you

Motions on Labor’s Higher Education Accords promised some intense debate, and didn’t disappoint. SAlt and Groots arrived at the discussion staunchly opposed to the motion, which would see the NUS express its support for the Accords. Characteristically, the SAlt delegation expressed their disgust at the “two-pronged approach” of participating in activism while engaging with the Accords. They accused NLS of “rubbing shoulders with Labor politicians”.

NUS President Georgie Beatty warned SAlt “do not waste this opportunity, because it’s once-in-a-lifetime”. Unity agreed, pointing out “it’s going to happen regardless. Wouldn’t you like student voices actually in the room?”

NLS speakers rolled up with the slogans. “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu” appeared to be a fan favourite.

We saw a procedural motion to reinstate Points #3 (“the NUS Education Officer will not speak out against the Accords”) and #4 (“the NUS Education Officer will not impede the Accords process in any way”). SAlt and Groots were furious.

Luc Velez hit out at NLS, proclaiming “you are trying to gag students from speaking out… SAlt was right, you are right wing!” (huge if true).

In any case, NLS and Unity had the votes. The motion passed, shortly followed by an official statement of condemnation posted from Velez’ NUS Education Officer account (gag order incoming, predicts Honi).

BeReal Soit (Welcome Week edition?)

If these past days have taught us anything, it’s how intense the stranglehold BeReal has on even the least digitally literate of our friendly hacks. 

In the spirit of submitting to our digital overlords, Honi kindly offers up the following contribution:

Ah, a welcome return to the classic Luke Mesterovic high-angle BeReal. @viceprezgreeksociety loyalists rejoice. Here’s to higher angles and more exciting BeReals!

Natcon continued into the night, and the next section is an update from after this article was initially published.

Delegates discussed protest strategy, with SAlt speakers condemning other factions for their lack of energy in building protests and mobilising support. NLS and SAlt both spoke to the rights of protesters and the need to fight against anti-protest laws. SAlt also clashed with other factions over protest budgets.

A motion to remove mention of men in thes domestic violence section of the NUS policy book was hotly debated. SAlt argued that women must be the focus of discussions about domestic violence, emphasising the need to avoid misogynistic talking points pushed by men’s rights activists. NLS and Unity voted against the motion while SAlt and Groots voted for the motion.

A motion to end privately owned colleges was passed. USyd SRC President Lia Perkins (Groots) spoke to the motion, denouncing colleges as a stronghold of sexual violence and far right politics. 

It’s late on a Tuesday night, and delegates are massively behind schedule. Some have taken to traversing the conference floor barefoot, for which they are punished with a procedural motion binding them to wear shoes at all times.

Superannuation was also on the cards, with SAlt speaking against the scheme as sexist. USyd’s own Maddie Clarke (SAlt) argued that “the superannuation system only helps bosses”. NLS rejected this claim, arguing that super came from unions and that SAlt are not participating fully in a worker’s movement. The motion to condemn superannuation failed.
During discussions around queer issues, SAlt accused NLS of hiding motions about the Religious Discrimination Bill, which the Federal Labor Party is slated to ‘conditionally support’. Nevertheless, a series of motions in support of safe spaces for queer people and queer activism were passed.

In the meantime, stay tuned for the highs and lows of Day Three tomorrow!

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