Head to Head for ANUSA General Secretary
By Ryan Bourke
The General Secretary (Gen Sec) is responsible for the internal administration of ANUSA. They run and organize the various councils that represent the student body, which includes the Student and College Representative Council. They also coordinate the Annual General Meeting and various Ordinary General Meetings throughout the year. The Gen Sec is responsible for interpreting ANUSA’s constitution, bylaws, and policies. They are also responsible for interpreting the responsibilities of their fellow executives. The incumbent General secretary is Ben Yates, who recently announced he will be contesting the Presidency in this year’s general election.
Samuel MacRae (He/Him)
Running under the “Action! for ANUSA” ticket, is second year law student Samuel MacRae. While MacRae has not served on the executive before, he has been on the SRC as a general representative for the past year. Elected under the “Back on track” ticket, MacRae’s year on the representative council included being on the night cafe working group, and opposing the anti AUKUS motion condemning ANU’s nuclear submarine scholarship.
Phoenix O’Neill (They/She)
Opposing MacRae is Phoenix O’Neill, who is running on the “Power in Community” ticket. O’Neill has substantial experience in student executive governance. In 2021, the now fourth year Law/Arts student was elected Vice President of Fenner Hall, as well as being Interhall Arts Committee president. In late 2021, O’Neill comprehensively defeated their 3 contenders in the election for Clubs Officer. Hence, a victory in this year’s election would see them serve a second term in the ANUSA executive.
D’Arcy Todd (He/Him)
The Gen Sec candidate for the ‘Jedi Council for ANUSA’ ticket. D’Arcy Todd has no information pertaining to his policies, history, or personal ambition for the role. However this statement can be found on their Facebook page:
“Brian Schmidt made the university a $150 million profit last year, whilst overseeing mass course cuts, degree extinctions & staff layoffs. Despite this, he still managed to get himself a payday that’s higher than the Prime Minister’s salary. Help us restore balance to the universe by voting in a bunch of Jedis, who Mr.Schmidt will be obliged to meet with every fortnight. And yes, we will be wearing the Jedi robes to every. single. meeting.”
On the ACTION! website, MacRae wrote that he is running for General Secretary because, “[he] believes in ANUSA’s potential and [wants] to help build engagement among ANU students with their union!” He also states that he believes “a bigger ANUSA is better!”
The site also outlines the 9 core policies that MacRae is seeking to implement if he is successful in the election.
The first point describes a policy of “impartial and respectful” moderation of council meetings in which “everyone who wants to speak, can speak.”
MacRae has also committed to several procedural reforms to the way in which meetings are conducted. This includes the implementation of a formal procedure through which members of the executive can be questioned directly by ANUSA members, and a faster turnaround for the publishing of meeting minutes. He has also promised to increase the student body’s engagement with meetings by live streaming them and mass emailing all students a notification of when they are scheduled to run.
MacRae has also committed to strengthening the integrity of the voting process in council and general meetings.
“As General Secretary, [he] will work toward introducing a new polling system for when we need to vote at ANUSA meetings”, MacRae told voters via the ACTION! Campaign site. “This will be done most likely by a link or some other virtual voting system accessible to voting members at the given meetings.”
In an August 26 facebook post O’Neill said they were running,“because I have seen the benefits of a mobilized student union in securing wins for students and staff.”
Phoenix later outlined their policy as centering around “three main policy focuses.” The first is reforming governance and culture. On this front, they have committed to “Recreating ANUSA’s Code of conduct” following “a long consultation process.”
The second pillar of their policy is to, “increase engagement and democracy”, by “collaborating more with student media to improve our outreach, conducting an election policy review to improve our democratic processes, and combat hierarchical decision-making within ANUSA to make sure that the union’s choices reflect the views of as many students as possible”.
Finally, O’Neill has committed to stronger representation, particularly for the postgraduate community. Following the collapse of PARSA last year, they have “committed to consulting students widely on the best way to represent postgraduates in our representative structure”.
Graphics by Will Novak
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