The National Tertiary Education Union is undergoing a leadership renewal that will strengthen its progressive role on industrial and educational issues. The process will also help the NTEU on the social and environmental fronts on which it is showing leadership.
Matthew McGowan, the former secretary of the union's Victorian division, has been elected as the union's new national assistant secretary. When McGowan headed the union’s Victorian division it succeeded in repelling serious attacks on staffing and educational standards at Victoria University and the University of Ballarat.
Victoria University academic Jeannie Rea joins McGowan in the union’s national leadership as national president. Rea, who has been the Victorian division president, was elected unopposed after the retirement of Dr Caroline Allport.
In New South Wales president Len Palmer and secretary Genevieve Kelly have been joined by two new vice-presidents well-known among NTEU members for their activism.
Susan Price, branch president at the University of New South Wales and Socialist Alliance member, has become vice-president covering general staff. Helen Masterman-Smith from Wagga Wagga’s Charles Sturt University is now the vice-president covering academic staff.
Price has been involved in a protracted battle for a new enterprise agreement at UNSW, which has put the NTEU at loggerheads with vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer. Hilmer is trying to impose completely unregulated use of fixed-term and casual employment at the university.
Masterman-Smith is one of the NTEU’s most committed activists on climate change.
The present phase of NTEU leadership renewal will be completed this week in the Victorian division. Colin Long, the former branch president at Deakin University (Geelong) has already been elected unopposed to replace McGowan as division secretary and remaining positions are to be filled this week.
[Dick Nichols is national trade union coordinator of the Socialist Alliance.]