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THE DEADLY NEWT

- fighting for a free press at UNE -

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Contact the newt: deadly_newt_of_une@yahoo.com.au
Join the Yahoo group:
http://au.groups.yahoo.com/groups/deadly_newt
The Deadly Newt is in no way involved with UNESA and was not produced using GSF money.



National Day of Action against VSU: Wednesday, August 10


Neucleus editor fired


UNESA Council accepts NUS disaffiliation, despite Tribunal findings


UNESA withdraws queer web support


'Breech of discipline' charge upheld, Director of Student Media dismissed


Reports that Wade McInerney took voting box home with him


THE REPORT YOU WEREN'T ALLOWED TO READ:
The Young Liberals who control UNESA Council broke election regulations!

UNESA Council Pays $5,000 of Wade McInerney's Legal Fees

TUNE!FM Forced to Abandon Broadcast of VSU Forum by UNESA Council

Where is the April issue of Neucleus?
The UNESA Council censoring and gagging our student paper

FYI - some links and email addresses that may be of use

Deadly Newt - Issue 3
Available in pdf file here

Deadly Newt - Issue 2
Available in pdf file here


National Day Of Action/SOS Open Day



Wednesday, August 10 2005

Today is the National Day of Action against Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) legislation.

The day kicks off at UNE at 11 am in the Central Courtyard, with a free BBQ at 11:45, lots of music, speakers at noon, and a Tug O' War competition at 1 pm.

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Neucleus editor fired
Wednesday, August 10 2005

At a meeting on Sunday July 10, the Liberal-faction-controlled UNESA Executive passed a motion dismissing Neucleus editor Seren Trump. This followed a dispute in which the Executive called the methods Trump used to carry out their censorship directives 'unprofessional'.

Trump says she received bare minimum notice of the Executive's meeting regarding her performance. She arrived around fifteen minutes late to find the Executive had dismissed her in her absence.

In a letter to the editor of the Armidale Express published on Monday July 18, UNESA President Samantha Aber defended the Executive's decision: "Miss Trump was removed from her position, as she has preferred to work against the elected Council in a most uncooperative manner, rather than chose [sic] to work with the Council to allay and properly address legitimate legal and discrimination-based concerns."

In a reply published in the Express on Friday July 22, former UNESA Director of Student Media Bryan Hale countered: "I have worked with Seren all year: she is professional, honest, and has great integrity. ... Samantha appears to think Neucleus should be simple-minded propaganda for her own political views, and that anybody who behaves with principle and integrity regarding UNESA's student media is being an 'activist'."

Trump's position as Neucleus editor was a paid one - it was her job, and she was using the income to support her family. However, the Executive has maintained that she was not a UNESA employee, and that the position is that of an ad-hoc office bearer.

In a public statement, Hale has said "I don't see the people in control of this UNESA Council putting another responsible, independent person in the position any time soon. If Neucleus does continue, I fear that student contributions will be ignored - apart from the contributions of students politically aligned with those in control of the UNESA Council and Executive."

The UNESA Council has advertised the position of Neucleus editor to UNE undergraduate students. Applications close today.

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UNESA Council accepts NUS disaffiliation, despite Tribunal findings
Wednesday, August 10 2005

At its meeting of July 10, the UNESA Council passed a motion accepting the results of its referendum on disaffiliation from the National Union of Students (NUS), despite an Electoral Tribunal finding that the referendum, which returned a 'No' vote, was invalid.

On Friday June 3 an Electoral Tribunal found that Samantha Aber had offered UNE's Residential College Presidents financial inducements in exchange for encouraging their residents to vote 'No' to NUS, and that Returning Officer Wade McInerney had engaged in prohibited conduct, including allowing an encouragement to vote 'No' to accompany voting slips for external students.

At the Council meeting, Wade McInerney questioned the Tribunal's authority, arguing that its authority comes from the UNESA Council itself. He also argued that UNESA's electoral regulations need serious reform.

A decision to disaffiliate from NUS by a regional university like UNE is an important bolster for the pro-VSU movement, which is supported by the Liberal faction controlling the UNESA Council.

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UNESA Council withdraws web support from Armidale Queer Association
Wednesday, August 10 2005

During its meeting of July 10, the Liberal-controlled UNESA Council passed a motion to remove all of UNESA's web support for the Armidale Queer Association (AQuA), a group established under UNESA as part of its commitment to advocacy and welfare. The web support UNESA previously offered AQuA included hosting the AQuA mailing list, which has over 100 members, and hosting information about the group and the services it provides for queer UNE students and members of the Armidale community on the UNESA site.

Amidst vocal protests from UNESA members attending the meeting, UNESA Councillors argued that AQuA is a social group and UNESA has no responsibility to support it.

UNESA's Male Queer Officer Phil Schubert was quick to arrange for the AQuA mailing list to move over to the university's servers, where it will continue to provide a forum for UNE and Armidale's queer community to meet, communicate, organise events and discuss issues. The resources required to host the list are very minimal, according to Schubert, and the Council's decisions were driven by ideology and spite. "The Council is attempting to legitimise homophobia," he said, "Its actions are disgusting."

This motion follows the UNESA Council's decision early this year to withdraw its support from the UNE Queer Space, which opened in 2004.

Information about the AQuA mailing list can be found here.

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'Breech of Discipline' charge upheld, Director of Student Media dismissed

Wednesday, August 10 2005

On the same morning as the Executive's dismissal of Seren Trump, the UNESA Council held a special meeting to deal with two charges of 'breech of discipline'. The first charge was brought against UNESA President Samantha Aber by UNESA Councillors Phil Schubert and Pete Farlow. They accused her of irresponsibility in her position as UNESA President regarding her press release following the UNESA Council meeting of June 4. The Council did not uphold this charge.

The second charge was brought against UNESA's Director of Student Media Bryan Hale by Samantha Aber. After a brief hearing, the Council passed a motion dismissing Hale.

Hale claims that Aber did not follow UNESA's regulations because she did not provide specifics of her charge in writing in advance of the meeting. "The charge ... contained no details of what she was alleging I had done wrong as Director of Student Media, it simply stated that I was being charged. This goes against UNESA's regulations regarding breech of discipline charges, which state that a charge must outline allegations in detail." He also claims that no specific charges were brought against him during the meeting. "When speaking on her charge, Samantha Aber claimed that on several occasions I had neglected my role as Director of Student Media by not censoring statements in Neucleus which would open it up to risk. I asked her for specific instances, and she replied that she didn't have a list 'on her right now'."

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WADE McINERNEY TAKES UNSEALED BALLOT BOX HOME WITH HIM
Wednesday, May 25 2005, 11:00pm

Several students have tonight reported that Wade McInerney, Young Liberal and UNESA-appointed returning officer in UNE's referendum on whether or not to remain with the National Union of Students, has taken ballots home with him UNSEALED this evening.

Standard practise in these situations involves sealing the box with tape and having scrutineers sign over the box and the tape, or using numbered plastic locking seals with a document recording the numbers that is signed by scrutineers.

According to reports, none of this happened. The UNE community is calling for this referendum to be disregarded, because its integrity has been lost.

If Wade McInerney wangles a 'No to NUS' vote, he will be doing a huge service to the Liberal Party he is involved with. The NUS referendum at UNE is seen as a litmus test about VSU (Voluntary Student Unionism) - if UNE students vote 'No to NUS', the Liberal Party will argue that students say 'no' to student unions.

There are also allegations that Wade McInerney has himself been campaigning for the 'No' vote - returning officers must not campaign!

If you have concerns, you can email the Vice-Chancellor Ingrid Moses at 'vc@une.edu.au', or the secretary to the UNE council at 'harthur2@une.edu.au'

They control your country
They control your campus
They don't want you to read this

Young Liberal stall at O-week:
UNE Liberal Club stall during O-week

THE REPORT YOU WEREN'T ALLOWED TO READ:
The Young Liberals who control this year's UNESA Council breached election regulations!

Following complaints of dishonest campaign tactics in the UNESA Council elections of last year, a UNESA Electoral Tribunal found that Samantha Aber (currently UNESA President), Dayne Rosolen (currently UNESA Treasurer) and Wade McInerney all breached electoral regulations.

As summarized by the newt, the Tribunal found:

-Wade McInerney was involved in bussing students from Robb College and St Albert's College up to the UNE Union Bistro, and offering them free or subsidized drinks while giving them a political speech and encouraging them to vote - in short, he traded drinks for votes.
-Wade McInerney misled voters by imitating the Australian Greens logo on his publicity material.
-Dayne Rosolen breeched regulations by lying in his campaign material about the cost of last year's aborted NUS referendum, and lying that money was spent on sending people to the Aboriginal tent embassy.
-Dayne Rosolen's negative focus on minority groups was also in breech of regulations.
-Dayne Rosolen destroyed other campaigner's publicity material and replaced it with his own.
-there were connections between Dayne Rosolen's 'Stop the Rot' ticket, Wade McInerney's campaign and Samantha Aber's ticket, and therefore Samantha Aber also breeched regulations by accepting their endorsements.

It seems the tribunal could only inflict punishment after the end of this year - so you won't see any of these three running in UNESA elections again any time soon, but Sam Aber and Dayne Rosolen (and the people elected from their campaign tickets) are still in power for 2005

The Electoral Tribunal ruled that their findings should be released and published in Neucleus, but the UNESA Executive passed the following motion:

E/2005/3/8 THAT pusuant to legal advice of 31/3/5 the publication and dissemination of the 2004 Electoral Tribunal Report is expressly prohibited

When other UNESA Councillors and students asked to see the legal advice, however, the Executive could not produce it - forcing many, including this little newt, to conclude that perhaps it does not exist.

Anyway, the newt has got its grubby little regenerable limbs on a copy of the findings, and here they are in full (with a bit of the newt's own bolding) for you to read.

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UNESA Council Pays $5,000 of Wade McInerney's Legal Fees

Following a Student Disciplinary Committee finding at the end of last year (see The Report You Weren't Allowed to Read), Wade McInerney has been planning on fighting UNE/the SDC in court. UNESA President Sam Aber put the following motion to the UNESA Council in a 'flying minute' over the Councillor's email list:

That in the interests of natural justice, fairness and equity the UNE Students' Association supports Mr Wade McInerney's action against the University and / or its Student Disciplinary Committee (SDC).
Further UNESA instructs the Executive Officer to arrange for a cheque in the amount of $5000 be drawn in the name of `Clark McNamara Lawyers' so as to further assist Mr McInerney in his challenge to the SDC ruling of November 2004.
Further, again, that the Executive be kept appraised of Mr McInerney's challenge and that developments be reported to the next Council Meeting.
Moved: Sam Aber (Chair)

The motion closed on Friday, March 11 2005, and was passed 8 votes to 7, with the 8 'yes' comprised of 7 voters affiliated with the Liberal party and one with the National party.

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UNESA Council Forces TUNE!FM To Abandon Broadcast of VSU Forum

TUNE!FM had been planning to broadcast the VSU Forum held by SportsUNE in Lazenby Hall on Wednesday the 27th of April, but the Young Liberal-controlled UNESA Council would not allow it to.

In essence, the council has gagged open debate about VSU amongst the UNE community.

At the UNESA Council meeting of Saturday the 23rd of April, Wade McInerney, who was to speak at the forum in favour of VSU, claimed that TUNE!FM could not broadcast the event live because he would "be using the C word twenty times!"

In the event, Wade McInerney failed to take part in the VSU Forum. In fact, there were no speakers at all arguing for VSU legislation. The organisers had to read out pro-VSU arguments from issue number two of Neucleus this year in order to provide a 'for' case.

FYI, the UNESA Executive passed the following motion on April 7th:

E/2005/3/7 THAT unless by express written permission of the President, no UNESA resources (financial or otherwise), including TUNE FM, shall be used in connection with any form of protest / action against the mooted introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism, including but not limited to National Days of Action.

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Where is the April issue of Neucleus?
UNESA censoring and gagging our student paper

The reason for the extreme lateness of Neucleus issue three? A stand-off between the Young Liberal-controlled UNESA Executive and Neucleus editor Seren Trump. UNESA Treasurer Dayne Rosolen, as UNESA President Sam Aber's nominee to read Neucleus number three before printing, demanded that Seren give him the entire edition to read. Seren refused to let him read the 'Letters to the Editor' pages in advance of printing, arguing that these are confidential up until the point of publication and that nobody but herself and the Director of Student Media should read them until then - otherwise she would be breeching UNE students' trust.

Dayne Rosolen and the UNESA Executive would not back down, and subsequently the Executive passed the following motions on Monday the 11th of April:

E/2005/4/1 THAT the UNESA Executive recognises that as the presiding officer of the organisation, the UNESA President:
a) Is within her rights to request a copy of each edition of Neucleus before it is dispatched for printing, and
b) May make any changes to any edition of Neucleus that she deems necessary or are in the interests of the organisation.
Rosolen / Hooke
CARRIED
Against: Challacombe

E/2005/4/2 THAT the UNESA Executive directs that ALL expenditure relating to the production and dissemination of Neucleus be frozen immediately.
Rosolen / Hooke
CARRIED
Against: Challacombe

E/2005/4/3 THAT under no circumstances is any edition of Neucleus to be printed and / or distributed on campus unless it has first been approved by the President or her nominated representative (who is a member of Council).
Rosolen / Challacombe
CARRIED

E/2005/4/4 THAT the UNESA Executive affirms the President and Treasurer's decision to order the suspension of the print run of the 3rd Edition of Neucleus.
Rosolen / Hooke
CARRIED
Against: Challacombe

These motions give the UNESA President totally unprecedented editorial control over Neucleus. At Saturday's UNESA Council meeting, members of the gallery accused the council of attempting to turn UNE's student media into its propaganda arm. But this little newt thinks these people are too lazy for that - rather then get off their asses and contribute to Neuc themselves, they're happy just to suppress everybody else's opinions, and go flying in the face of the Australian Press Association's Charter for a Free Press in Australia while they're at it.

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UNESA Electoral Tribunal
Decisions on appeals arising from annual election of 2004

(i) Wade McInerney - "Vote Green"

Complaints were made to the Returning Officer regarding Wade McInerney's inclusion of the words "Vote Green" in some of his publicity material. The Returning Officer did not consider this to be in contravention of the Election Regulations. Phil Schubert appealed against this decision under reg 249 by email to Helen Arthurson on 20 October 2004.

The Tribunal upholds the appeal. The Tribunal considers that the Returning Officer's decision was without evidential foundation (reg 249(1)(f)) and was so unreasonable that no reasonable person could have made it (reg 249(k)). The use of the words "Vote Green" in a triangle closely resembles the logo of the "Greens" political party. It is dishonest and misleading and deceptive (contrary to regs 227(1) and (3)) in that it falsely suggests that Mr McInerney is affiliated with the Greens, thus giving his environmental claims greater credibility than they may otherwise have received.

The Tribunal noted that this breach was all the more serious in that this is the second time in three years that a finding has been made against Mr McInerney for attempting to boost his environmental credentials through dubious means.

Under reg 249(9) the Tribunal makes a declaratory ruling that Wade McInerney's conduct constitutes a serious breach of the Election Regulations.

(ii) Wade McInerney - Use of Bistro

Complaints were made to the Returning Officer regarding Wade McInerney's use of the bistro in connection with the election campaign. The Returning Officer considered there to be no contravention of the Election Regulations. Toby Robinson appealed against this decision under reg 249 by email to Helen Arthurson and Jane Davies on 14 October 2004, as did Phil Schubert by email to Helen Arthurson on 20 October 2004, and Anna-Louise Wilson by email to Helen Arthurson and Jane Davies on 12 October 2004 and 1 November 2004.

The Tribunal upholds the appeal. The Tribunal considers that the Returning Officer's investigation into these allegations was inadequate, and that the Returning Officer's decision was without evidential basis and had been made without considering relevant matters (regs 249(1)(f) and (i)).

The Tribunal finds on the balance of probabilities (reg 248(5)) that Mr McInerney, in connection with his position as President of the Union, was centrally involved in bussing Robb College and St Albert's College students to a function at the Bistro at which there were free or subsidized drinks. Mr McInerney made a political speech at the function in which he reminded the students that he was paying for or contributing towards the price of their drinks. He encouraged the students to move from the Bistro to the adjacent polling place in the Bistro Foyer to vote. He had earlier indicated to the Returning Officer that there were likely to be a lot of voters voting during the afternoon when the function was being held. Some of the other campaigners were excluded from the function, and since campaigning in a polling place is prohibited under reg 227(4)(g), he therefore obtained an advantage over those candidates in terms of communicating with voters immediately prior to their voting. Mr McInerney was subsequently personally billed for the drinks, although information received by the Tribunal suggests that ultimately UNE Union will foot the bill.

The Tribunal finds that this conduct of Mr McInerney is a breach of reg 227(4)(j) - offering gifts - and reg 227(4)(k) - using for campaign purposes University facilities not generally available to all students.

Under reg 249(9) the Tribunal makes a declaratory ruling that Wade McInerney's conduct constitutes a serious breach of the Election Regulations.

(iii) Further ruling on Wade McInerney's conduct

Having regard to the seriousness of the Mr McInerney's breaches, described in (i) and (ii) above, in addition to the declaratory rulings (reg 249(9)) the Tribunal makes a further ruling under reg 249(8) that Mr McInerney is disqualified from voting and standing in UNESA elections for a period of two years effective from 1 November 2004.

(iv) Dayne Rosolen - Claim regarding UNESA funds and referendum

Complaints were made to the Returning Officer that Dayne Rosolen's publicity material contained the false claim that UNESA spent $20,000 on the NUS referendum. The Returning Officer considered that there was no contravention of the Election Regulations. Anna-Louise Wilson appealed against this decision under reg 249 by email to Helen Arthurson and Jane Davies on 12 October 2004 and 1 November 2004.

The Tribunal upholds the appeal. The Returning Officer failed to conduct an adequate investigation into the matter, and made a decision without evidential basis and without considering relevant matters, a decision so unreasonable that no reasonable person could have made it (regs 249(1)(f), (i) and (k)).

The Tribunal finds on the balance of probabilities (reg 248(5)) that the sum spent by UNESA on the referendum was a little over $10,000. Mr Rosolen's claim that $20,000 was spent was likely to mislead voters, in breach of the reg 249(3). Under reg 249(9) the Tribunal declares that Dayne Rosolen has contravened the Election Regulations.

(v) Dayne Rosolen - Distribution of publicity material

Complaints were made to the Returning Officer that Dayne Rosolen left publicity material on tables in the dining room at St Albert's college. The Returning Officer considered that this was not in breach of the Election Regulations. Rebecca Langham appealed against the Returning Officer's decision by email to Helen Arthurson and Jane Davies on 13 October 2004 and by email to Helen Arthurson on 31 October 2004. The Election Tribunal upholds the Returning Officer's decision. While reg 225(2)(b) prohibits the distribution of publicity material in libraries and teaching spaces, unless taken directly from a campaigner, this prohibition does not extend to dining halls, which are a social space rather than a study space.

(vi) Dayne Rosolen - Interference with other candidates' publicity material

Complaints were made to the Returning Officer that Dayne Rosolen and/or his campaigners interfered with - tore down or covered up - the publicity material of other candidates in St Albert's College, replacing them with "Stop the Rot" publicity material. The Returning Officer did not make a finding that this constituted a breach of the Regulations. Rebecca Langham appealed against the Returning Officer's decision by email to Helen Arthurson and Jane Davies on 13 October 2004 and by email to Helen Arthurson on 31 October 2004.

The Election Tribunal upholds the appeal. The Tribunal considers that the Returning Officer's investigation into these allegations was inadequate, and that the Returning Officer's decision was without evidential basis and had been made without considering relevant matters (regs 249(1)(f) and (i)).

The Tribunal finds on the balance of probabilities that Mr Rosolen and/or his campaigners did interfere with the publicity material of other candidates, in breach of reg 227(4)(f), noting that candidates are responsible for the conduct of their campaigners under reg 227(2). Under reg 249(9) the Tribunal declares that Dayne Rosolen has contravened the Election Regulations.

(vii) Dayne Rosolen - Claims about UNESA funding of queer activities and aboriginal tent embassy

Complaints were made to the Returning Officer regarding claims on "Stop the Rot" publicity material, authorized by Dayne Rosolen, that UNESA had 'spent' 'thousands of dollars ... on the "Queen Space" and Queer Conferences', and had 'used' 'money ... to support and sustain the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra'. The Returning Officer did not find that these claims were in breach of the regulations. Rebecca Langham appealed against the Returning Officer's findings by email to the Tribunal on 13 October 2004 and 31 October 2004. Anna-Louise Wilson also appealed against the finding by letter on 12 October 2004.

The Tribunal upholds the appeals. With regard to the claim about funding of queer activities, the Tribunal finds that the claim was true - several thousand dollars were spent on such activities. However, the claim about the funding of the aboriginal tent embassy appears to be without basis. The Tribunal finds, on the balance of probabilities, that UNESA directed no funds to this cause in 2003 or 2004. This statement was intended or likely to mislead or deceive a voter, contrary to the prohibition in reg 227(3).

The Tribunal also finds that these claims, on publicity material authorized by Dayne Rosolen, tend to impede the conduct of the election, contrary to reg 227(4)(n). The only funding that is criticized on this publicity material is concerned with minority groups - aboriginals and homosexuals. Essentially, the poster states: 'stop the rot ... put an end to' the funding of these groups. It has a clear tendency to denigrate and humiliate the members of these groups, contrary to the University's anti-discrimination policies, and the anti-discrimination laws to which the University is subject. To attempt to win votes through this form of campaigning is entirely unacceptable. It impedes the proper conduct of the election.

Under reg 249(9) the Tribunal declares that Dayne Rosolen has committed a serious breach of the Election Regulations.

(viii) Further ruling on Dayne Rosolen's conduct

Having regard to the number of breaches of Dayne Rosolen, described in (iv), (vi) and (vii) above, and the seriousness of the last of these, in addition to the declaratory rulings (reg 249(9)) the Tribunal makes a further ruling under reg 249(8) that Mr Rosolen is disqualified from voting and standing in UNESA elections for a period of two years effective from 1 November 2004.

(ix) Samantha Aber

In appealing against the Returning Officer's findings, Phil Schubert (12 October 2004) and Toby Robinson (12 and 21 October 2004) expressed concern about connections between with Samantha Aber and the "Stop the Rot" ticket and Wade McInerney.

The Tribunal notes that candidates are responsible for the conduct of their campaigners under reg 227(2). The publicity material of Wade McInerney and that of Dayne Rosolen that the Tribunal finds is in breach of the regulations ((i) and (vii) above), both endorsed the candidacy of Samantha Aber for president. The Tribunal finds that Samantha Aber was associated with Mr McInerney and Mr Rosolen in other connections, knew of the content of these documents, and took no steps to distance herself from them. On the contrary, she was content to accept their endorsements. Therefore, the breaches of Mr McInerney and Mr Rosolen were committed in the process of campaigning for Samantha Aber. Under the regulations Samantha Aber is also in breach of the regulations.

Under reg 249(9) the Tribunal declares that Samantha Aber is in breach of the Election Regulations.

(x) UNESA - Publication of the decisions of the Election Tribunal

The Election Tribunal rules under reg 249(8) that, in addition to being released to interested parties, the present decision should be published in full by UNESA in the next edition of Neucleus, and should also be made accessible from its web-site within two weeks of the date of the decision and not be taken down until the results are declared for the annual election of 2006.

These decisions were made on 3 December 2004 by the Election Tribunal:Helen Arthurson, Jane Davies, David Hamer

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FYI

UNESA's Constituion, Regulations and Policy can all be downloaded in PDF format from:

http://unesa.une.edu.au/index.php?page=council

Some email addresses of interest:

Questions or queries for the UNESA President? Contact her at: president@unesa.une.edu.au

Want to bring up anything with the Vice-Chancellor? It's: vc@une.edu.au

Got something you want to tell the UNE Council? (That's the UNE Council, not UNESA.) You can contact the UNE Council secretary at: harthurs@une.edu.au

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