This week Catalyst will be reporting on the 2015 National Conference of the National Union of Students (N.U.S) taking place at Monash University’s Clayton Campus.
Every year hundreds of student union delegates attend ‘Natcon’ and it has become customary for a motion to be passed disallowing filming of the conference for it’s duration. Whilst we at Catalyst will have the privilege of seeing what is going on at Natcon 2015, you will not.
If the N.U.S is serious about representing students nationwide it’s time they gave those same students the transparency and access they deserve without forcing them to pay a $200.00 observers fee.
In part, National Conference is funded by the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) paid at the beginning of the year by the students the N.U.S seeks to represent. It is a conference funded by students, for students so how come we can’t all see exactly what is going on during debates and voting times? You are paying for something that you are not allowed comprehensive access to.
Last time we checked, when you’re just scraping by living off Mi Goreng you probably don’t have $200.oo to burn on an observers pass.
Many delegates at this year’s conference will likely go on to be the politicians of the future and some no doubt worry they may be caught on film doing things that could affect their career prospects. If this is the case then why – unlike politicians debating policy in Parliament – don’t they deserve to be questioned about that?
In the past Natcon has seen it’s fair share of controversy which is why we at Catalyst think it is vital that filming be allowed on the conference floor. Not only are such motions and changes of interest to students, but you are also the people that will be most effected by them.
Catalyst respects that sometimes sensitive issues will be discussed on the floor and understand that people may not want to be filmed because of this. However, we believe that whilst some speeches can be quite personal this should not cost students their right to a transparent union.
It’s time for the N.U.S to allow student reporters from Catalyst and other student publications to film proceedings at National Conference. If they’re willing to represent students, speak on their behalf and spend their SSAF then the union MUST allow those same students to access Natcon without prohibitive fees. By not changing their habit of disallowing filming the N.U.S is inadvertently endorsing secrecy and unfairness to this nation’s students.
Catalyst has also co-signed an open letter to the N.U.S from Australia’s student publications. You can read it here on the website of Honi Soit