– represent the students of the University in matters which may concern them:
– maintain communication between the students and other sections of the University community, and
– provide a range of services to the student body.
There is clear evidence now that on the 10th of August, 2012, the UQ Union held an ‘emergency’ meeting in which part of section 105 of their electoral regulations was repealed. This section protected the names of political parties for 10 years – including names such as the former main opposition party ‘Pulse’. [I note that the regulations and constitution for the Union only became available on their website late yesterday afternoon.] After this protection was repealed, the name ‘Pulse’ was taken by a group of students who are closely associated with the current incumbent party ‘Fresh’. For instance, Mr Colin Finke’s (the current UQU ‘Fresh’ President) brother, Mr Kelvin Finke, is registered on the ‘Pulse’ ticket as running for the administrative committee (http://i50.tinypic.com/vxegk.jpg). Further, the UQ Skeptics have shown the close relations on Facebook between Colin Finke and Rohan Watt (the Fresh Presidential candidate for this year): http://i50.tinypic.com/110isy8.jpg.
Notably, almost all of the members of the current ‘Pulse’ (fake) ticket attend either with Cromwell College (with Mr Finke) or St John’s College (with Mr Watt). Further, in an MX article earlier in the week (http://i48.tinypic.com/nl5z83.jpg) Mr Finke stated that he had never heard of one of the other ‘Pulse’ candidates, Mr Zac Draheim, despite Mr Draheim also attending Cromwell College and despite them both being Facebook friends and there being photos of the two together (available on Facebook). Mr Finke has refused to answer questions related to his involvement with the Pulse ticket, as reported by Crikey (http://tinyurl.com/ccc249m).
One student, who was put down on the ticket as ‘Pulse’ Treasurer – Tristan Black of St John’s College – has said that he was tricked into signing up by a Fresh member. You can see a screenshot of his statement on Facebook here: http://i48.tinypic.com/24y91ma.jpg . It is quite clear that Pulse this year is a fake ticket created by students associated with Fresh, after they removed the electoral regulation protection of the name. This is supported by the fact that the people who are on this ticket have not come out and campaigned in the election at all.
‘Fresh’ and the UQ Union are now posting a lot of spin on social media about the decision of the Electoral Tribunal (established under the UQU Constitution) on the evening of Thursday the 23rd of August which held that Fresh had not acted in breach of the regulations. This is 100% true in a legalistic sense. However, contrary to how Fresh and the UQU are portraying the ruling, this does not clear them of wrongdoing. It does not address any of the concerns which I outlined above. The Tribunal found that Fresh had not breached the electoral regulations – but that is because they set the electoral regulations to suit themselves. This does not mean that there will be a free and fair election.
There are also serious concerns about the transparency of the review process. Currently there is no publicly accessible information as to who is on the Electoral Tribunal or how to contact them. There is no information about how one can make a complaint. And there are no details posted about when and where any hearings are held. Further, in relation to the Returning Officer for elections (currently a gym owner from Caboolture), they can be appointed with the approval of only a few of the inner cadre of party members. They are not truly independent, as they should be – given they oversee the conduct of elections.
There are also a lot of false information flyers that have been strewn around the university. One claims to be from a 5th year student who is independent from any of the parties and merely wishes to inform students that the new Pulse ticket (despite the evidence I outlined above) is really just a factional split. The source of these flyers is not identified. There is a real concern that this – and other campaigning activities of the Union – are paid for out of university money. There are currently no publicly available audits of the Union or information as to what it’s money is being spent on. The Union’s current status as an unincorporated body means they are not subject to the same strict accounting measures.
– Rebecca commenting on my ‘How Far Can FRESHs Corruption Go?‘ article.
Below has listed some changes between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ UQU Regulations. Document appraisal courtesy of Joshua Inglis.
Want access to the Regulations? Here are the new UQU Regulations pertaining to elections.
Summary of changes to the Election regulations, as released by Joshua Inglis:
tl;dr —> I would argue that In all cases, the changes favour the incumbents (those with pre-knowledge of the changes). All Preparation times have been significantly shortened, and pre-existing name protection removed.
If these changes were only released at the time of the calling of the election, then all candidates running against the incumbents were put at a significant disadvantage.
R94 Opening Of Nominations
OLD: nominations open on the Monday twenty (20) days before polling commences for the Annual Elections.
NEW: nominations open on the Monday ten (10) days before polling commences for the Annual Elections.
R95 Notice of Election
OLD: The Returning Officer must give notice of the Election at least five days before the opening of nominations by placing a notice on the Union Noticeboard.
NEW: The Returning Officer shall open nominations at the time of giving notice of the Election, which shall be by way of placing a notice on the Union Noticeboard.
R97 Form of Nomination
OLD: Nominations must be in the form of Schedule Five.
NEW: Nominations must be in the form of Schedule Twenty. Any nomination by way of Schedule Five shall be invalid.
OLD: All nominations must be personally signed by the candidate, their nominator, and their seconder.
NEW: All nominations must be personally signed by the candidate, their nominator, and their two seconders.
OLD: The Returning Officer must make nomination forms available:
a) from Administration services
b) from the Union office at Ipswich Campus
c) from the Union office at Gatton Campus
d) from the primary non-St Lucia campus for medical students
e) from the Union’s Website
f) by mail or email if requested by an individual student.
At least 3 Academic Days before the opening of nominations
NEW: The Returning Officer must make nomination forms available:
a) from Administration Services;
b) by mail or email if requested by an individual student.
from the opening of nominations.
R98 Receipt of Nominations
OLD: The Returning Officer must give or send the student nominating:
a) an acknowledgement in the form of Schedule Six; and
b) a copy of this Part of the Regulations,
within six Academic Day of the close of nominations.
NEW: The Returning Officer must give or send the student nominating:
a) an acknowledgement in the form of Schedule Six; and
b) a copy of this Part of the Regulations,
within one Academic Day of the close of nominations.
OLD: If the nomination is rejected, the Returning Officer must notify the person concerned or have sent notification to the person by 5:00pm five Academic Days following the close of nominations.
NEW: If the nomination is rejected, the Returning Officer must notify the person concerned or have sent notification to the person by 9:00am one Academic Day following the close of nominations.
OLD: No decision of the Returning Officer to reject a nomination may be appealed to the Electoral Tribunal more than five Academic Days after the close of nominations.
NEW: No decision of the Returning Officer to reject a nomination may be appealed to the Electoral Tribunal more than two Academic Days after the close of nominations.
R100 Verification of Signatures and Eligibility to Stand
OLD: The Returning Officer must verify that each person standing as a candidate, or nominating or seconding a person to stand, is eligible to stand or nominate or second a person to stand.
a) for Annual Elections, no later than 5:00pm five Academic days after the day nominations close;
b) for By-elections, no later than 4:00pm one Academic Day after the day nominations close.
NEW: The Returning Officer must verify that each person standing as a candidate, or nominating or seconding a person to stand, is eligible to stand or nominate or second a person to stand.
a) for Annual Elections, no later than 5:00pm two days after the day nominations close;
b) for By-elections, no later than 4:00pm one Academic Day after the day nominations close.
OLD: For Annual Elections, the Returning Officer must, by 5:00pm eight Academic Days after the day nominations close, place on the Union Noticeboard a list of candidates in the order they will appear on the Ballot Paper.
NEW: For Annual Elections, the Returning Officer must, by 5:00pm five Academic Days after the day nominations close, place on the Union Noticeboard a list of candidates in the order they will appear on the Ballot Paper.
R105 Electoral Groups
This entire section has been heavily altered to the extent that doing a simple comparison becomes useless. But important changes will be highlighted.
OLD: Candidates cannot register the name of an Electoral Group that has been registered in the last ten years, without the written agreement of ten of the candidates who nominated as part of that group.
Added to NEW Regulations that did not exist in OLD Regulations:
The name of an Electoral Group must not include any words that are or are a substantial part of:
a) a registered trademark of the University;
b) the names of businesses at the University;
c) the names of any University College or reference to University Colleges in general; or
d) the names of the University’s faculties or schools.
The name of an Electoral Group must not:
a) be one that a reasonable person would think suggests that the Electoral Group can or cannot provide a good or service, or a thing by which a person may obtain a good of service, free of charge or at a significant discount;
b) be one that a reasonable person would think suggests that the Electoral Group can or cannot provide a means by which students do not have to pay, or incur a debt with respect to, some or all of the costs of attending the University;
c) be one that a reasonable person would think suggests that the Electoral Group supports or opposes a means by which students do not have to pay, or incur a debt with respect to, some or all of the costs of attending the University;
d) include the name, or an abbreviation, variation or derivative of the name, of another Electoral Group;
e) include a word that so nearly resembles the name, or an abbreviation, variation or derivative of the name, of another Electoral Group, that it is likely to be confused with or mistaken for that name;
f) be one that a reasonable person would think suggests that a connection or relationship exists between the Electoral Group and another Electoral Group, or between the Electoral Group and any of the items referred to in R105.14 or R118; or
g) include the word “independent” or “voucher”.
R136 Appeals Against Decisions of the Returning Officer
Where an appeal relates to the eligibility of a candidate, or an electoral ticket, the Electoral Tribunal must make a determination by no later than one Academic Day before the commencement of polling.
I am aware that there has been a lot of chatter today regarding the student election debacle and the disqualification of all tickets bar FRESH. I was running as the VP Gender and Sexuality for PULSE, nominated by the Women’s Collective as their representative. Those of you that don’t know the situation, here comes the answer to your questions.
Last year, the rules regarding nominations (the time a ticket registers their name and members) were that there must be 10 signatures present from the previous year’s ticket members to register the ticket. On Friday 10th, the Student Council (made up of a FRESH majority) passed a secret change that later revealed itself to mean all other tickets were to be given very little notification of the elections and had minimal time to prepare, print t-shirts and flyers etc. These changes also removed the requirement of the 10 signatures to register a ticket name. The name ‘PULSE’ and presumably other previously used opposing ticket names were registered before legitimate members were aware of the rule change, or even the elections for that matter. Hence, the PULSE ticket was disqualified from participation in the elections.
As a result of this, I lost my position as VP Gender and Sexuality under the PULSE ticket, as did every one of my affiliates. I was cast as an ‘Independent’, which means myself or any other PULSE candidate would not appear on the ballot paper. Also, I do not know exact figures, but last year Independents received only approximately 50 votes out of an approximate total of 12, 000. As an obvious choice for our ticket as a whole, the candidates voted to withdraw from election. This enables us to stand as unified, unaffiliated group of students concerned for the State of our Union, and attempts to prevent any accusation that we are outraged purely because we are the opposition.
Technically it would have been possible to re-register another name, but it would have meant my affiliates would have had to pull together an entire campaign, including printed t-shirts, flyers, and strategy between last Friday and today, a feat which would have rendered us unable to counter FRESH’s prepared and well financed campaign even if possible.
We do not know who registered the name of PULSE. While the FRESH Presidential candidate, Rohan Watt, tried to convince me it was due to a division within our own ticket (despite all 3 previously free standing ‘left’ tickets were planning to unite together for this particular election for our united concerns for the Union – this is not the first sign of corruption at UQU by any means), he seemed to know a lot of information about how the fake PULSE was put forward.
Where to from here? Like the page below if you haven’t already, and be prepared to take action.
“I would never use Union money to pay for my own political agenda,” attested FRESH Presidential candidate, Rohan Watt.
Well. Let’s talk about that of a moment, shall we? Isn’t he a member of the ticket that has used Union money to give out free sausage sizzles under a tent clearly branding his ticket name? Isn’t he a member of the same ticket that just three weeks prior hosted a UQU day engineered purely to promote the FRESH entity, issuing free t-shirts and temporary tattoos branding his ticket name? So where did that money come from, eh?
Irony is dripping off the ballot paper for this year’s UQ student elections. Liberals running a union? I thought those right-wingers wanted to liquidize unionism? FRESH want’s to win an election so badly, they feel they have to subject themselves to dirty, corrupt behaviours to achieve it? FRESH constantly claims it is the only party for the ‘everyday student’, but how come I haven’t seen FRESH represent students in issues that really matter, such as the Arts scenario? What’s happening with the CSG research center? Why can’t I access the Union Constituion and Regulations whenever I want to? How come there is no mechanism for student complains? How come you haven’t been calling my Women’s Collective meetings like you’re supposed to? It sounds like a particular ticket knows that if they played the game morally, they probably wouldn’t achieve office. They have become so corrupt in the process, they are attracting a lot of negative attention to themselves, which may as well be (fingers crossed) their electoral downfall.
I have just had, put simply, the best and worst conversation of my life with Rohan Watt, the FRESH Presidential candidate. Not only were the five members campaigning looking disheveled and withdrawn, but I had a couple of people scream out to me, “don’t vote for FRESH! They’re bastards!’. The general lack of adequate explanation on the current situation was the first thing that got me. FRESH appear to be claiming PULSE was registered three times (how would they know this information?) because of a split among our own party. I feel Watt is playing on people’s ignorance. He was using the words ‘Marxist’ and ‘socialist’ a lot, obviously counting on their negative connotations to draw gravity onto his ‘arguments’. He also is assuming people are not aware these groups actually banded together to combat FRESH. Where un-united in how skewed to the left they were in politics, three political tickets united under the one flag (supposed to be under ‘PULSE’) to combat the corruption (even before this incident occurred) in and of FRESH.
What amused me is that Watt genuinely appeared worried when he looked over to where the PULSE tent usually stands. I think he realised the stupidity of the decision, if in fact the decision was his. It is possible whoever did put the PULSE ticket name nomination in did not consider this controversy. We can only hope we have split the bag wide enough to spill the beans on the laps of the students to whom the FRESH party has controlled for five years. Besides, everyone needs something interesting to talk about at this time of semester. Why not have a political outrage? Maybe FRESH really did have the ‘everyday students’ in mind, after all!
What didn’t amuse me so much was how one of the Officers (the first FRESH person I talked to) was trying to bag out PULSE by referring to one of it’s candidates as ‘that little fat one’. Not impressed, FRESH. Not impressed. How unprofessional of you to label your opposition in that way. It’s almost as if you don’t have anything on your opposition ideologically, so you go for the appearance. Well doesn’t that just degrade your argument tenfold. As if I was expecting any different from you, anyway.
Nothing entertained me more than playing the role of the loud mouthed college student (I was wearing appropriate merchandise) and screaming the word ‘FUCK’ several times at Watt’s face, while I can only assume appearing as if it wasn’t directed at him. He was giving me weird look though… he may have been skeptical of my true affiliation. I felt obliged to confuse him further by telling him I had to catch my bus. While wearing a Duchesne College shirt. I could be Charlie Sheen with how much I felt I was Winning.
All in all, for someone who actually knew the situation, I can say in all honesty: I, a former VP Gender and Sexuality, knew more about what was going on that Watt, Presidential Candidate for FRESH. It wasn’t even that you didn’t know about what PULSE was planning on doing. It was that you didn’t actually know what you were campaigning.
Stay posted for my spiel on the FRESH Flyers.
Just so you know, I’m intending to broadcast as full a coverage as I can with the knowledge I possess about the current situation with the UQU elections. I was intending to run as the Vice President – Gender and Sexuality for PULSE, before the PULSE ticket was disqualified of course. This is a busy, exciting time for the history of UQ. We can only hope it has a fairytale ending.
Stay skeptical of everything you hear over the next two weeks.