Bureaucrats win at University of Tasmania

Wednesday, October 15, 1997 - 10:00

By Sarah Stephen

HOBART — Almost 1300 out of 9000 students voted in student elections at the University of Tasmania two weeks ago. Most of the positions were won by members of two tickets — Zest and Impact.

Zest included a number of current SRC office bearers and members of Labor's left faction. They won the positions of education officer, women's officer, Art School representative, publicity and publications officer, and two of the four delegates to the National Union of Students' national conference.

The Impact ticket included this year's SRC president, Catherine Miller, and a number of members of the Labor right faction, Unity. Impact's Gilbert Astorga narrowly defeated Bruce Paterson, a candidate running on an "anti-faction, anti-politics" platform, for the position of president. Impact also won treasurer, secretary, societies council president, international students' officer, and two of the four delegates to NUS.

During the election campaign the bureaucratic office-holders went to enormous lengths to pose as progressive activists on campus. Their left rhetoric belied the fact that only a few months earlier Astorga, for example, had campaigned against protest actions by students, and that his faction voted against moves to democratise NUS at the last conference.

The Higher Education Action Team — involving activists from Resistance, the Greens, the women's collective and the anti-racism and education campaigns — won the position of environment officer. The HEAT candidate for women's officer missed out by only 40 votes.

Mathew Munro, HEAT candidate and Resistance activist, commented: "The bureaucrats' new-found radicalism in the pre-election period revealed the pressure that Resistance and HEAT were putting on them to campaign.

"The same bureaucrats who had earlier opposed a picket of a council meeting organised by HEAT members, and in May had helped security guards stop students from occupying the administration building, began planning an occupation of the same building.

"Forcing the current SRC bureaucrats to pose as activists is a real victory. But our primary goal is raising consciousness and activism amongst more students. Elections are a litmus test to see how much progress is being made towards that broader goal and it is now clear that the task of convincing more students to get active is still ahead of us."

From GLW issue 293