Summary of the major parties

They say the loudest sound to ever have been recorded by humans was the 1883 eruption of the volcanic island Krakatoa. That was the case until today at least, as the display of cheering and yelling put on for todays presidential debate would have certainly given the volcano a run for its money. Debate is a nice word for it, as it mostly consisted of stump speeches on the major talking points with occasional responses from the candidates. However, it did give us a pretty good idea of how each party is positioning itself and what the major points of contention are.

From the get-go, all the candidates gave us a pretty clear take of how they see the Guild. Launch sees itself as an antidote to a complacent STAR, and many of the positions and stances that Kate mentioned in the debate are framed as much in an anti-STAR way as they are pro-Launch. The strength of this argument lies in her experience running with STAR in the past, and it pays off as a rhetorical crutch to fall back on. Launch is pitching itself as the party that gets what students at UWA want and cares only about their needs at UWA, making the case that STAR have abandoned UWA students for political fights that many students have no interest in.

STAR has doubled down on its experience. Much as Kate relied heavily on her experience as a STAR candidate, Conrad’s fall back was years of STAR control of the Guild and a range of different achievements to back that. He promoted STAR as the sensible center, a party that cares about broader political issues and will fight for those causes, but also does not abandon the everyday needs of students. If you liked STAR last year, you’ll probably like STAR this year, and STAR knows that. While it served as an opportunity for Launch supporters in the crowd to laugh It off, there’s no denying the experience Conrad has had in his time on Guild and the relationships with the university he has. That experience was on show, even if he was burdened by the inherent issues of being an incumbent party.

Left Action were pretty clear that while they don’t see themselves as taking over the Guild, they do want to steer it in a more activist direction by getting people on to Guild Council. While I want to be as a fair as possible to all the parties here, there wasn’t nearly as much policy talk on the Left Action front. Jade spent most of her speaking time emphasizing the need for the Guild to be an activist union, not one which pretends to be politically neutral. Pot shots at the other candidates aside, both Jade and the Left Action caucus in attendance have a pretty clear resentment for the other parties and draw themselves as a distinct and important alternative to the STAR-Launch dichotomy. A socialist alternative, so to speak.

Here’s a bit of a timeline of how things went down during the debate. Use the rough timestamps below to watch any specific section that interests you on our full stream of the debate!

Opening Statements

Kate: 1:03

Kate opens up with a quick narrative on her experience running with Star and how that drove her towards Launch. She says Star have become complacent in power and lost touch with students. From the get-go, she firmly positions Launch as party who does not believe that the Guild is an activist body, describing STAR as a full time political machine.

Jade: 1:06

Harkens back to the olden days of the Guild being true activists on issues like the Vietnam War. She calls Launch a party of card carrying Liberals who want to destroy student unionism. Jade goes on to say that both major parties just roll over and accept what is handed down to them by the university and that Left Action will fight for better.

Conrad 1:08

Opens with a bit on how important the Guild is and the need for experience in managing the Guild. Says he has a proven record and respect within the University. Wants a Guild about more than just motions and is there to defend his track record and continue it in 2019.

QUESTIONS

Education Cuts – 1:09

Conrad says he wants the Guild to be an activist Guild and that STAR has proven an ability to be effective on that with their record on cuts in the past. It was a generic but classic STAR line, touting experience as the driving qualification.

Kate says defending education quality can be achieved with a better working relationship within the University. Says past efforts with STAR haven’t worked and that more collaboration is needed to do save education. This does not go down well with Left Action who yell lots.

Jade says that politics at uni is not and cannot be separate from politics broadly. She again argues Launch is full of Liberals who just want to screw students over. She says STAR are no better and have failed because they have no leverage, but doesn’t elaborate on what leverage Left Action have or could have. She says the major parties are spineless and that their decisions are driven by political considerations of their future careers.

12 Week Semesters – 1:17

Conrad says he can’t speak for the 2016 and 2017 Guilds, but they were fighting this issue. Odd line to take, given the STAR website touts the successes of the 2016 and 2017 Guilds – can’t have the good without the bad! They were given a choice and neither was good so they went with 12-week semesters. Save Our Semesters campaign is a thing that is happening to collect data and bring something to the university. STAR has the experience and respect to get this done.

Jade responds and says STAR wanted to cosy up to the university and only jumped on board when students got angry. All STAR did was put out a shitty video. It was a bit shitty, someone buy them a tripod far out.

Kate also responds and says STAR didn’t do anything about it in 2016 or 2017 so Conrad can hardly claim the good advocacy history without claiming the inability to stop this or communicate it.

Freedom of Speech, Australian Family Association and the Dalai Lama – 1:21

Josh clarifies the motions and opens it up to Kate first.

Kate wants universities to support free speech within reason. A case-by-case basis is needed and you need to liaise with people. Kate says her position is that she will always support UWA students and hear their concerns before making any moves on anything else. Does not mention the Dalai Lama, a wise move.

Conrad says it’s important the university protects students. The university should not allow hate speech or people who trivialize these issues on campus. A bit vague but a classic STAR line and one they have been generally consistent on to their credit. Also does not mention the Dalai Lama, another wise move.

Jade immediately hits out at Scott Morrison, Milo Yiannopoulos and Lauren Southern in wider Australian politics. Protests are important and the protest was successful at stopping Van Meter.

Lack of Voter Engagement and people hating Student Politics – 1:28

Jade says student elections are a farce and students find it absurd. Describes STAR and Launch as student politicians and faceless hacks. Neither of them stand for anything. Argues Left Action has moved the debate forward to actual issues, and says without them we’d still be talking Nandos vs Subway.

Conrad says UWA has higher voter turnout than most student organisations which is good and shoud be noted, but always needs improvement. If more students were engaged with the Guild they would be more OK at the mess of stupol. So, what the Guild needs to do is engage better. Says they have heaps of policies to do that.

Kate says STARs record shows their rhetoric of ‘engagement’ is empty. Says they have had the opportunity to do it but haven’t done it. Says Launch is making real action to make elections less intrusive e.g. online voting.

To Kate – Does Launch plan on elaborating on their policies on their website?  1:33

Kate says that Launch’s website is not exhaustive. Pelican gets a shout out! She says STAR’s website is only extensive because it’s a list of all the stuff they haven’t done. Spicy content and that one gets a cheer. Kate says talk to Kate if you want to talk policy.

Conrad does a response. Oh no, in the cringiest moment in the entire debate, Conrad does a call and response to his STAR hacks. Fucking shoot me. Says returning to 13-week semesters is gonna be something they try to do, but says it would be dumb to say they can guarantee it. An honest take that he won’t get credit for, but probably the truth and a fair thing to say. Kudos there.

NUS Questions – 1:37

Jade says that political diversity at the NUS is fine and that you don’t need to be part of Left Action to agree with their policies. Says their record at NUS is “fucking amazing” and lists successful campaigns across Australia, says others have used money for holidays?? Fact check is on the case.

STAR and Global are part of the national independents. Conrad says Launch sit with the Young Libs. Last year, Conrad says he went to NUS and did welfare, student housing and a bunch of cool stuff and that STAR delegates in the future will also do great policy in the same way.

Kate says that STAR and Left Action worked together to proxy one of their position to Left Action in return for preferences in elections. Brings up books not bombs as something dumb the NUS is in favour of. Also says NUS candidates from UWA will not be able to effectively represent UWA students if they joined the NUS National Executive and that’s why Launch won’t do so and why STAR is bad for doing so.

Left Action do some cussing and then Conrad attacks Launch’s record at NUS. Watch your profanity lads.

To Conrad – what will the Guild stance on Books not Bombs be given that Lincoln, your Education candidate voted against it? 1:45

Says STAR is not endorsing the campaign after talking to engineers and other groups. Says Lincoln’s vote was more about not setting a precedent on voting on campaigns that theoretically had not happened and that’s where it came from. Context here being that the motion was to recognize the impact of the Books Not Bombs campaign if it were to take place at UWA.  Attacks Launch for not doing advocacy well and says STAR will continue to fight the good fight.

Jade comes forward and I am waiting for her to go wild. She does. Says it is an absolute disgrace that UWA helps research on weapons that are sold to Saudi Arabia and Israel and make a profit off the arms trade. She says that it is a complete joke that STAR won’t take a stance on this and they should be ashamed and that Launch can essentially shove it where the sun don’t shine.

To Jade – Left Action is an activist party, so if you win what will you do on day-to-day stuff? 1:47

Jade says they don’t actually think they are going to run the Guild given the structural differences between us and the other parties in how we recruit. They want to get activists onto Council to keep people accountable and push policies that are left-wing. Citing a long history of activism, Jade says that is what Left Action has done in the past and that’s what it will continue to do if elected.

To Kate – $2 middies at the Tav, is it possible? 1:50

To summarise what was said by Kate: ‘Launch has had a stance on cheaper food and drink since its creation. I’ve checked Liquor Licensing Laws and the UWA Tavern License means it is feasible to drop the prices. There is no minimum limit on pricing. The Vic in Subiaco is known for their cheap pints and they said they’ve massively increased food traffic. Expensive food is a barrier but if we drop that too we’ll be good to go. Enormous increase in foot traffic counterbalanced the drop in prices and that’s what we want to happen at the Tav.’

Closing Statements 1:53

STAR basically says they are ready to go and their independence and experience is unparalleled.

Left Action says the uni is currently fucked and that STAR and Launch haven’t achieved anything. Says they are careerists and no other ticket will take action other than Left Action.

Kate says that UWA is their priority, while SALT and Star are all about national politics. Says her own candidates inspire her. How wholesome.

Cormac Power