By Hayley Hands
ANUSA has postponed today’s Ordinary General Meeting (OGM), citing “unforeseen circumstances”. The main items up for debate and decision had been changes to the Standing Orders and accepting the Probity Report from this year’s election.
Before its postponement, there were questions surrounding the constitutionality of the OGM, due to section 13(7) of the ANUSA Constitution. This section states that the agenda must be posted within “three Teaching Days” of the meeting. A link to the OGM agenda was only posted on the Facebook event last night, and as of yesterday, there was no link on the website or hard copy on the ANUSA office door. General Secretary Lachy Day told Observer that “due to personal illness, the deadline [of three teaching days] was missed”. Observer understands that Day had initially attempted to defend the constitutionality of the meeting, but in his statement to Observer, Day said that “due to the ongoing nature of this illness, no time was able to be given to working through an alternative”.
A number of motions were to be put forward by current General Secretary and President-elect Lachy Day to prevent “bullying, harassment, intimidation and abuse” at SRC meetings. The SRC has had multiple in-camera discussions (with only SRC members present) about safety at meetings, and an unusually large number of non-representatives have this year been ‘named’ and/or ejected from meetings due to disruptive or abusive behaviour. In the preamble of his motion, Day stated that the changes to the Standing Orders were in response to representatives feeling “unsafe attending SRC meetings”. The preamble also explicitly referenced the abandonment of SRC 6, which occurred due to a student refusing to leave after being ‘named’ three times.
The first amendment would have amended section 1.1.2 to give standing Orders “priority over any other regulation of the Association”. Day’s preamble argues that the Standing Orders need to have precedence over the Freedom of Representatives Regulation, as “meetings will be dysfunctional if the majority of a meeting cannot determine what matters it wishes to consider and who has the floor”. The Freedom of Representatives Regulation, passed at this year’s AGM, will supersede much of ANUSA’s current Media Policy from 1 December, and allow representatives to speak freely to the media and the public without having to gain the approval of the President.
Another amendment sought to make “explicit the power of the chair to ensure safety of a meeting” by replacing 4.3.3 with a new section that, like the current 4.3.3, gives the chair “discretion” to remove a member for “outrageous conduct” without ‘naming’ them three times. The amendment would also explicitly give the Chair the power to call ANU Security or the police to remove someone.
The most significant amendment was the addition of section 6.4, which would provide that failure to leave when directed, or removal more than twice within a year, would trigger automatic referral to the Disputes Committee for the removal from office or membership. Department Officers would be referred to the Committee by their Collectives. The person whose refusal to leave triggered the abandonment of SRC 6, Grace Hill, is next year’s Environment Officer.
Jason Pover, current Clubs Council Secretary, also planned to put forward amendments to the Standing Orders. His proposed amendments included adding sections 2.13 and 2.14, to provide “motions may only be debated and voted on where either the mover or seconder is a voting member or officer” and the mover of the motion can prevent “any member from seconding the motion at any time”.
Pover also wanted to insert 2.2.3 and 2.2.4, to provide that all motions “submitted with proper notice” must be included in the agenda, with the exception of confidential motions. A motion could only be deemed confidential if it concerned an election, the mover agreed, or would expose ANUSA to “demonstrable, proven and specific risk which the Presiding Member makes available to all Voting Members”. SRC 5 and SRC 6 saw motions excluded from the agenda without the consent of their movers, on grounds such as defamation concerns and student wellbeing. Pover also sought to add a clause to allow for confidential motions to be debated ‘in-camera’, but only if a motion to that effect gained a 75% majority vote.
The meeting had also been set to discuss the Probity Report from this year’s election. The Report details the various complaints and actions taken against candidates during the course of the election. However, the report was not included in the agenda. Observer understands it was to be presented in ‘Other Business’ due to not being submitted in time. The OGM was also supposed to pass last year’s Probity Report – it was not submitted in time for passing last year, and the fact that the OGMs in Terms 1 and 3 failed to reach quorum has further delayed the matter.
The postponement of the OGM means that SRC 7 will be held under the existing Standing Orders. ANUSA would need to give 10 teaching days’ notice of the new OGM date, meaning that the earliest reschedule date is in Week 11 (due to a public holiday). Alternatively, if 80 students signed a petition, or the SRC passed a motion, calling for a Special General Meeting, the postponed matters could be debated as early as Monday of Week 10.
Jason Pover was an Observer News Editor in 2018, and Secretary in Semester 1 2019.
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