Landmark Regulation Changes to Be Proposed at Upcoming SRC Meeting
By Sarah Cutter-Russell
PULP acknowledges that Sarah Cutter-Russell is current USU election campaign manager for Tina Lee and has had past affiliations with several political parties as an SRC Councillor in 2018 and candidate for 2019.
In a move that could redefine the future of SRC elections, several key regulation changes are set to be proposed at the upcoming SRC council meeting on 8th May. Put forward by current SRC Vice President Dane Luo and seconded by General Secretary Niamh Callinan, the amendments reflect sought-after changes by many, however they are likely to be met with some opposition.
The amendment most likely to ruffle feathers is the proposed allowance of online campaigning in a language other than English. The current regulations stipulate that other languages are only permitted in print, along with a third party EO pre-approved translations. The proposed amendment would also eliminate the need for NAATI translations, which have often become expensive and time consuming for potential council candidates to obtain in the past.
Many agree facilitating greater international student involvement within student politics should be welcomed, however the recent demonstrations of voting power from international factions have undoubtedly changed the StuPol game forever. Many historically dominant factions have been left shaken, most recently by the election of current SRC President Jacky He and SUPRA President Weihong Liang, both from international student faction Panda.
It is worth noting that USU Board electoral regulations already allow online and in-print campaigning as well as verbal campaigning in a language other than English.
Another key change proposed is a postal vote drive on satellite campuses (as recommended by the 2018 SRC Electoral Officer) and the introduction of wheelchair-accessible polling booths at Abercrombie Business School (ABS), the Holme Building and Charles Perkins Centre (CPC). The justification for this change is to maximise voter participation in the rapidly changing campus landscape.
The impact of these amendments would undoubtedly shift the current campaigning dynamic. Satellite campuses are often targeted by specific niche tickets or particular factions who believe the extra few votes can get them over the line (and they often do). It remains to be seen if becoming better informed would see an increase in traditionally low voter turnout at these campuses. The new polling booth locations would facilitate inclusive voting, however the impact on final tallies would be uncharted territory, with campaign groups spread further and potentially spelling success for those with a larger support base (especially given that A-frames must now be supervised at all times).
The final two parts of the proposed amendments centre around streamlining and clarifying current electoral regulations. The first of these would see campaigners prohibited from making defamatory statements, alongside the addition of anti-discrimination provisions. The second would integrate the National Union of Students (NUS) electoral and annual electoral regulations, reflecting the SRC’s longstanding affiliation with the NUS – a move that will likely sit favourably with several campus factions.
Dane Luo said of his motion to implement these reforms:
“The proposals will largely implement the recommendations of the 2018 Electoral Officer and update our Regulations to reflect changes in the composition of our University and the conduct of elections, focusing on increasing voter turnout to enhance the SRC's model of student-led democracy. Overall, the reforms will increase accessibility for students to nominate, campaign and vote in SRC elections.
The greatest amount of work went to changing the wording and format of the Regulations so that it is coherently presented, clear and more easily understood.”
Many will wait with bated breath to hear the decision reached at the council meeting (provided quorum is met), and what it spells for the upcoming SRC elections in Semester 2.
Be sure to follow PULP’s coverage tonight as it all unfolds.