I dedicate this post to Paul Johnson’s left toe, which may yet get stubbed on the way out. That and the super-cute Pelican commentator whom I drunk-friended a few weeks back and have sadly yet to meet IRL. Hey. Hold me.
So because our ‘hot tips’ line more resembles someone feebly poking us with a grey and ancient Pool Noodle of Predictability, I am using this day to explain to you – and to myself, a naïve tenderfoot in this treacherous upside-down world – something of the nature of the beast we more commonly refer to as Student Guild Elections.
But let’s start with student politics in general. Many a shoe that has stamped an influential foot on the floors of Australian parliament has belonged to an individual that has, at some point or other, ran the gamut of student politics. Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey all played the game at Sydney University. So did Gillard – albeit differently – at the University of Adelaide. From our own Student Guild rose the eminent Carmen Lawrence, who we can thank for getting rid of the archaic ‘show us a bit of leg, love’ Campus Beauty Contest, and Sue Boyd, who became the first female Guild President in 1969. Bite dust, Beazley. Also: our boy Bob! Old Hawkey! Yew!
Apparently – and no doubt opinions will differ among the elect – you don’t have to have every lightbulb flashing to get into Guild politics (and thereafter hired as staffer, union rep, or think tank member). God knows you don’t have to have charisma. It helps, sure; particularly in this new personality-driven, showmanship-spun, 24/7 media-fangled era. But look at how close soggy biscuit Shorten came to stealing the cookie jar from Mr. Proud Orotund Fox Turnbull. Just look at Cam Payne.
No, that’s not true. I met him for the first time yesterday, and his blue eyes were ice-picks to my soul.
I am yet to be wooed by this year’s student elect. Anything from the Dairy Milk range will be fine.
The main ingredient for stupol success is grit. Well, I say grit. What I mean is the kind of barracks-style stamina that will see you photocopying shitty leaflets until your palms burn off, the conscience of a Velociraptor grown bitter with Sam Neill heartbreak, the petty viciousness of a muskrat provoked, and the kind of slipperiness that would see you beat a greased eel in a waterslide race. Oh, and it also helps if you have the kind of money that will float you through deferred courses and campaign funding, and an already-established base of voters (i.e. those who formed a cult around you in high school). Typically, this is why party headhunters track down Golden Triangle Head Boys and Girls in their fresher year. They see in them Potential. They see potential as a Yachted Father.
Who is the real MVP for 2016? In previous regimes it was apparently Sam Shipley. He has not Facebook friended me however, so I don’t care for him.
This year, as mentioned previous, there are two major parties: the lefty STAR (105 running in total) and righty Launch (80). Others contending are Left Action (23) and the International Students’ Link (10), or ISL, which due to the unfortunate pronunciation of its acronym really should think about a name-change itself. Although ISL runs on its own ticket, they formed a coalition with STAR a few years ago because of the parties’ overlap in prog values. Apparently the alliance is a mighty boon for STAR, shoring up votes through preferences from international students pulled into the booths– who probably need their interests looked after more than the rest of us.
Also mentioned previously, there are a whopping 173 Ordinary Guild Councillors competing for the 13 seats up for grabs. This number has been steadily blowing out in previous years – last year it was 161, in 2014 it was 139, in 2010 it was 78. In 2001 (when WACE records begin), it was a cool 87. Maybe a graph would help, but who has the time?
[Edit: Edward Hollingdale apparently has the time.]
Nice graph Ed.
By several accounts, the trend is vaguely troubling, I guess. Firstly and most importantly, it means that the volume of UWA students who have been palpated by the tendrils of student politics and gradually overcome has increased. Secondly, it means that the quota (i.e. the minimum vote share needed for representation before preferences) has jumped. Last year, I am told only Sir Charlie Viska (serving Vice President, Facebook profile picture like count: 607) reached the threshold, possibly. It’s a system geared to pushing out and overwhelming both minor parties and Independents, enshrining instead the two-party monolith. Independents can get more than double other candidates on first preferences, but still never really have a fighting chance. Why bother? Many would-be indies are now reported to be taking up cleaner, less expensive hobbies than electioneering – like Lindt chocolate fondue wrestling, or practicing their signature, or demon worship.
It goes to show that in this election, there is not a single Independent running. Not. One. Single. Person. Slash. Chump. Not one! No joke party in sight either. Democracy, huh. It gets played.
It’s depressing. I am depressed. I’m going to go now and set up a betting scheme for how many weet-bix Tim Winton will eat at his public breakfast in October. Bai.
Words by Kate Prendergast