By Kylie Moon
HOBART — Student elections on the Hobart campus of the University of Tasmania finished last week. The successful candidate for president, Catherine Miller, won 807 of the 1382 votes. Sarah Stephen, from the Resistance ticket, won 264 votes. Around 20% of students voted, a higher proportion than in many previous years.
During the election campaign Miller presented herself as a non-aligned, "apolitical" candidate. She argued that students should vote for her because all the other candidates were either Labor, Liberal or Resistance members.
While Miller is not a card-carrying member of the ALP, she ran on a ticket with current president and ALP right member Anthony Llewellyn. They called their ticket Student Voice.
A lot of students found this ironic given that, on the issue of changes to the exam timetable, Llewellyn was a voice for the university administration rather than for students. He has also undermined the ability of the Education Action Coalition to build the campaign against education cuts, arguing that such a body is less democratic than the SRC because it is not made up of elected representatives.
While many other candidates were members of political parties and held clear political views, they preferred to conceal these, aware of the votes it could lose them. Only the candidates on the Resistance ticket presented policies.
Stephen told Green Left Weekly, "If candidates are members of or aligned to the Labor or Liberal parties, students have a right to know because it raises a significant conflict of interests. As student representatives, they have a responsibility to lead campaigns around student concerns, including against education cuts. Yet as members of the Labor or Liberal parties, they're bound to defend their party's policies, which are pro-cuts."
Resistance candidates ran for the positions of president, women's officer, general representative and NUS delegate. Anita Goriss-Hunter, candidate for women's officer, got 474 votes to the ALP candidate's 800. Kylie Moon was elected general representative with the second highest number of votes. Sarah Stephen was elected as delegate for the National Union of Students.
Resistance is pleased with the results. "The Resistance ticket this year was the first real challenge for quite a while to a tradition of apolitical campaigns dominated by the ALP", Stephen said. "We will continue to build the campaigns against the Liberals' attacks and will use our position as general representative on the SRC to push it to take the lead in organising such campaigns."