The start of voting week for the Swinburne Student Union Election has been shadowed by a bleak, overcast ambiance — and not just the tumultuous weather.
3SSR Media can reveal that both the Amplify and EVOLVE campaigns have met with key individuals from different factions within the National Union of Students (NUS). Both tickets have previously boasted their factional independence to 3SSR for our 2016 Election run-down.
Amplify President Candidate, Anthony Osborne, confirmed to 3SSR Media suspicions that his ticket has traded preferences with Socialist Alternative — a far-left revolutionary socialist political organisation; infamously renowned for their violent and extreme activist campaigning on polarising social issues such as marriage equality and refugees.
Amplify’s how-to-vote card, seen by 3SSR, recommends voters preference Viktoria Ivanova on their NUS Delegate’s ballot. Viktoria has previously contested an NUS Delegate position for Swinburne, successfully winning a spot last year. Student Politics pundit Martin Ditmann noted that Viktoria aligned with Socialist Alternative at the 2015 NUS National Conference.
In return for NUS preferences, sources close to the election have revealed to 3SSR that Socialist Alternative campaigners are recommending students vote for Amplify candidates in Council positions where EVOLVE are also fielding candidates, as no Socialist Alternative candidates have nominated for any Students’ Council positions.
However, it is understood that Socialist Alternative are no longer campaigning at Swinburne after allegations surfaced surrounding the enrolment status of some of their campaigners. Section 70(i) of the Student Union Election Regulations prohibits individuals “engaging in any electioneering unless an enrolled student of Swinburne University of Technology”, although disciplinary action towards campaigners (if any) is determined by the election’s Returning Officer — Above Quota Election’s Stephen Luntz.
Historically, entire tickets (including enrolled Swinburne students) have been said to have been banned from campaigning for this reason, although it is unknown whether every Socialist Alternative campaigner has been disqualified this year.
This comes as exclusive photos seen by 3SSR confirm the EVOLVE campaign is being counselled by senior members of Student Unity, who have close links with the right faction of the Australian Labor Party.
Cameron Petrie, current NUS National General Secretary, Nathan Croft, La Trobe Student Union (LTSU) 2016 President and Jake Cripps, LTSU 2017 President — all known Unity members — have been reportedly seen around campus, working with the EVOLVE campaign. To 3SSR’s knowledge, none are enrolled at Swinburne.
It has been alleged that non-Swinburne Unity members have been campaigning for the EVOLVE team, with the Returning Officer advising impacted individuals to not remain on campus throughout the election period. It is unknown whether the Unity figures listed above were sanctioned for campaign electioneering.
EVOLVE President Candidate, Ana Tinc, and 2016 SSU President, Caitlin Bruty have repeatedly dismissed allegations of a formal or informal ticket alliance with Unity, arguing that they have enlisted the support of the faction for campaign advice given the limited campaign experience of the EVOLVE team. Ms. Tinc and Ms. Bruty have also made reference to the diverse political affiliations present within the EVOLVE ticket.
Whilst EVOLVE has contested (and campaigned for) previous SSU Elections, this is the ticket’s first where many Students’ Council positions — including the Presidency and NUS Delegates — have been heavily contested. 3SSR Media can confirm that individuals on EVOLVE’s ticket are diversely aligned politically, with Independent, Labor and Greens affiliated candidates.
Incumbent SSU President, Caitlin Bruty, is the only member of EVOLVE’s NUS Delegate candidates who is a member of Student Unity. All other EVOLVE NUS Delegate candidates have confirmed to 3SSR Media they are Independent and not factionally aligned.
Engaging with NUS factions during the campaign trail is arguably necessary given the highly politicised environment with NUS’ National Conference. Both Amplify and EVOLVE have continually claimed their tickets, campaigns and candidates are apolitical and 3SSR Media is not alleging the campaigns have misled voters in this regard.
The Swinburne Student Union elections are being held across Swinburne’s Hawthorn, Croydon and Wantirna campuses throughout this week.
Disclaimer: Neither 3SSR Media nor our election reporters endorse or support (financially or otherwise) any candidate or ticket contesting in the 2016 SSU election.