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QUT Guild council rejects major constitutional & electoral reform

By October 9, 2019 October 21st, 2019 No Comments

Tensions ran high at last night’s Guild council meeting as major structural and electoral changes were voted down. 

The Guild spent over six months discussing and planning the proposed changeswhich last night received seven-and-a-half votes for, three against and two abstentions. 

After passing initially, it was discovered later into the meeting that an absolute majority of 9.5 votes (half of council, including those absent) was needed for constitutional amendments, and was therefore rejected. 

The Guild announced this afternoon that they are “urgently determining our capacity to hold a valid election in accordance with the time frames and requirements mandated under the current Constitution and Regulations.”

As reported previously, the major changes included the creation of a board, an SRC to replace the current council, re-designed elections and an independent publication. 

A main criticism of the proposed amendments was the inclusion of a QUT Vice-Chancellor appointee on the nine-person board, dominated by six students.

Throughout the drafting process, SEF Faculty councillor Declan Kerr and recently elected Education Faculty councillor Carl Jackson have publicly condemned the changes online and received support from other students involved in student unionism.

Four Guild councillors co-signed Cr Jackson’s letter, which said “these changes are an attack on student democracy at QUT.” 

Discussion on the constitution lasted 1.5 hours and two people were ejected from the meeting after interrupting speakers, including a non-student who was attending on the mandate that they would not speak, per the current regulations.

  • The non-student who was removed by security identified themselves as being in the Guild executive in 2009 and 2010 and appeared to be affiliated with Cr Kerr and Cr Jackson.

As security were called, Cr Jackson demanded that supporters of the changes speak up. 

CI Faculty councillor Emily Readman said that just because councillors “have not voiced views for or against, that doesn’t mean they don’t have views.”

Cr Jackson said voters “can’t abstain on this vote,” though this was corrected by Treasurer Lewis Holmes and Secretary Olivia Brumm. 

Ms Brumm said voters could abstain if you want to abstain.

Before being removed by security, the non-student said if you care about democracy and representing students and being accountable to them, you need to have a position.

Ms Readman spoke to GLASS and said that after consulting CI students and finding mixed opinions on the changes, she abstained because “that’s what I’m supposed to be doing as a faculty councillor.

According to one executive, council meeting quorum is less than the number of votes needed to pass constitutional changes, meaning a legitimate meeting of council could fail to pass amendments even with unanimous support. 

The current regulations require nominations to open on a Monday, 21 days prior to an election, meaning the soonest voting could open is the 4th of November, during the second week of exam block.

Correction: A previous version of this piece misgendered Cr Declan Kerr and said that the constitutional amendments had seven votes for. GLASS sincerely apologises to Cr Kerr and for the incorrect votes figure.

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