By Helena Burke

Four candidates are competing for the position of ANUSA Treasurer this year from the tickets Brighter Together, Proud, Refocus, and YOU!. The major issues addressed by the candidates include increasing financial transparency and accountability in ANUSA and tackling issues with sources of funding – particularly in the wake of COVID-19.

The Job

The Treasurer is the supervisor of ANUSA’s budget. This budget sits at around $2M for 2020, and is primarily funded by the Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF).

The Treasurer is also responsible for preparing ANUSA’s bid for SSAF funding, determining the budgetary allocations for line items and projects, and ensuring ANUSA does not exceed its budget, in addition to making budgetary adjustments as needed throughout the year.

The Candidates

Brighter Together ANUSA’s candidate is Siang Jin Law. Law is studying PPE and is currently the ANUSA Women’s Officer.

Proud of our ANUSA’s candidate is Stefan Thottunkal. Thottunkal is studying Health Science and is currently Treasurer of the Ethnocultural Department.

Refocus your ANUSA’s candidate is Louis Gordon. Gordon is studying Arts and Political Science and is currently an ANUSA General Representative.

YOU! For ANUSA’s candidate is Rafe Harrison-Murray. Harrison-Murray is studying PPE and Economics and is currently a member of the ANU liberal club executive.

The Policies

Resource Allocation

Law from Brighter Together proposes making Leadership Camps for the ANUSA SRC and ANUSA Executive more “cost efficient”, extending resources for training Clubs and Departments in understanding financial obligations and responsibilities, and running “tailored financial workshops” for students in collaboration with the Women’s Department and, “ideally”, with other departments as well.

Law views the BKSS as a “severely under-utilised” space and proposes to improve its breakfast choices to include healthier options. Further plans include upgrading the space with a mural, throws and pillows, and increasing the visibility and awareness of the space in Kambri. 

Proud’s Thottunkal identified a “cyclical model” of putting student money back into the student body as being at the core of all of his policies. Thottunkal says each of his proposed income streams (outlined below) have been designed to principally provide value for students while also being an opportunity to financially support ANUSA.

Refocus’ Gordon has concentrated his policies on addressing the financial impacts of COVID-19. Gordon says that ANUSA’s services will need to “pick up the slack” when JobKeeper, JobSeeker and Youth Allowance return to a lower rate. Gordon proposes to provide more support to students through emergency accommodation, meal vouchers, and grocery vouchers, and will “push hard” for a higher SSAF allowance for student emergency grants.

Harrison-Murray from You! is focused on a need to “reduce executive waste” by tying executive pay to the size of the ANUSA budget and “cutting unnecessary and expensive executive leadership development programs”. Harrison Murray has emphasised a focus on the “quality and quantity” of student services proposing improvements to the ANU printers, better Wi-Fi for on-campus residents, redesigning ISIS, and creating “greater seating options in Marie Reay”. The ticket has also expressed that they would like to see an “expansion” of the mental health current services offered on campus, including increasing the accessibility of these services for students.

 Accountability and Transparency

Law has proposed combining all ANUSA committees under a broader ‘Wellbeing Committee’ that will deal with social events, mental health, and wellbeing, in addition to Sex and Consent week. Law believes that by having one body in charge of keystone events and initiatives, a clearer agenda will be set for the upcoming year, which will make it “more obvious” when commitments are not met.

Thottunkal has proposed direct consultations with students and student societies to increase the accountability and transparency of ANUSA. Thottunkal says that these consultations will help direct funding to “where students want it most”.

Gordon has echoed this sentiment, emphasising the need for a “significant amount of community consultation” in designating ANUSA’s spending. Gordon also proposes the publishing of “easy to digest” synthesised financial reports on the ANUSA website.

Harrison-Murray claims that as most of YOU!’s candidates are outside “the ANUSA bubble”, the ticket can “more objectively look at the programs that ANUSA runs”. He asserts that this will ultimately allow for better assessment of “which [programs] are the best and most important for students”. 

 SSAF Funding

Law proposes to diversify ANUSA’s income by generating more funding from more ‘Big Ticket Events’, selling ANUSA Merchandise (including department-specific merchandise), and getting direct Alumni funding for ANUSA. Law also proposes that ANUSA open a Post Office on campus in lieu of a cafe or other food-related business as Law believes these businesses are often burdened by “a lot of perishable costs”.

Thottunkal proposes a number of “alternate funding sources” for ANUSA, including establishing an ANUSA Cafe, forming a ‘Sponsorships Committee’ to seek external funding, and building an E-sports Room.

Gordon is focused on continuing to generate revenue from sponsorships, but also asserts that these sponsorships “should always be ethical”. Gordon condemned ANUSA’s decision to accept sponsorship from property developer JWL land at the start of the year and says that Refocus is committed to compulsory consultation with the SRC for all of ANUSA’s future sponsorships.

Voting for the ANUSA Election will run from 9am, 24 August, until 12pm 27 August.