A statement from the Observer News Editors and NUS coverage team:
The NUS National Conference (NatCon) opened today at Federation University, Ballarat, and will run throughout this week. Despite ANUSA being an affiliated member of the NUS, Observer has not been granted access to the conference. To the best of our knowledge, this same situation has occurred for other ANU media, meaning ANU students will not be able to read dedicated coverage. Considering we are departing from our usual comprehensive coverage of the event, we felt we owed it to students to explain why we were not reporting from the conference.
Despite sustained good faith efforts to work with the NUS organisers, we were informed on Saturday that we would not be able to attend the conference as we did not register before the deadline. We believe it was impossible for us to register at any earlier point. We had tried to register as a matter of urgency, and had no control over the delays which occurred.
Furthermore, although we were in correspondence with both the NUS and ANUSA over the last few weeks regarding registering for NatCon, we were never informed of any registration deadline. At this point, it is not clear to us whose responsibility it was to provide us with information regarding nomination and registration procedures. According to NUS officials, it was the responsibility of campus presidents to relay registration information, but we are awaiting ANUSA’s explanation of the matter.
We made significant efforts to be flexible so that we could cover the event for ANU students. We offered to accommodate and feed our reporters ourselves, so long as they were allowed access to the conference floor. However, we were told that this would not be possible as the deadline had passed.
This is a disappointing outcome. In light of ANUSA’s recent decision to not re-accredit to the NUS last month, we believe that our attendance at NatCon was all the more crucial. The ANU student community deserves to know the agenda of the NUS, and how our elected representatives contribute to national initiatives and policy. We pride ourselves in our rolling live blog coverage, which delivers this information in real time. Unfortunately, due to the failure to register our reporters, this coverage is no longer possible. We are particularly concerned by an NUS official seemingly suggesting that ANU students had less interest in or need for media coverage of the conference due to ANU’s accreditation status.
Nevertheless, we will continue to report on NatCon to the best of our ability, despite not being on the conference floor. We plan to provide ANU students with daily article updates on what’s been happening at NatCon, hopefully with insights from the elected ANUSA observers who are attending. In these articles, we hope to continue the tradition of scrutiny and analysis of our national union that we have pursued ever since we began as an organisation.
If readers are looking for other media outlets reporting from NatCon, we would recommend the excellent live blogs being run by our friends at Honi Soit and Farrago. Both outlets also have rolling coverage on Twitter using the hashtag #nusnatcon18.
Observer contacted members of ANUSA to clarify their position on the matter. We will provide further details when it is possible to do so.
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