Student representative stood down over Christian Porter comment, security called to meeting
According to Obradovic, ‘security were bewildered and said they would have to make a report because they were concerned by [Qin’s] behaviour.’
Wednesday night’s AUU Board meeting was mostly uneventful. As usual, the juicy stuff was pushed to an in-camera session, in which the public and media are not allowed. However, it’s not at every meeting that you see a physical altercation — on Wednesday night, just that happened.
Ana Obradovic (Left Action) was elected to the Board last year after a fiery election campaign which saw her temporarily barred from campaigning. Obradovic is a fierce critic of student representatives more concerned with ‘resumé-padding’ and petty bureaucracy than representing students as an activist body. She is a member of the Adelaide University Socialist Alternative club.
The May 12 meeting was expected to be tame. Besides a dispute about whether the privatisation of university health clinics would end bulk-billing, it pretty much was.
However, at some point during a lengthy in-camera session, Obradovic was asked to leave the board room by AUU President Angela Qin (Progress). As Board Directors are legally prohibited from disclosing in-camera matters, On Dit cannot report on the nature of the ensuing discussion.
While the in-camera rule is usually used to protect sensitive financial information, it has been used as a political weapon to secretly dismiss opponents to the Progress-Liberal coalition, and thwart the ability for students to hold democratic referendums. As the in-camera power is wielded at the President’s discretion, critics believe it is used too frequently, harming transparency and stifling engagement with student politics.
Obradovic repeatedly asked Qin to justify her request to leave with a rule or policy, which Qin failed to do, allegedly. At some point, the remaining Board members, which include 7 other elected students, tried to move the meeting to Qin’s office to exclude her.
It is not clear who suggested they move, but once everyone relocated, Obradovic tried to enter Qin’s office. She says the office door was slammed on her foot by Qin, who made intimidating comments. Security was called in by a member of the Board to remove Obradovic. According to her, ‘security were bewildered and said they would have to make a report because they were concerned by [Qin’s] behaviour.’
On May 13, Qin confirmed to On Dit that Ana Obradovic has officially been dismissed from her post as a democratically-elected student representative.
Qin told us Obradovic was voted out as it was determined she ‘allegedly publicly defamed a fellow Board member’, which breached her legal obligations to the role. This is referencing a March 7 Facebook post in which Obradovic publicly compared her colleague, AUU Vice-President Isaac Trumble (Connect/Liberal), to federal minister Christian Porter, the subject of a historical rape allegation. It is likely Obradovic was asked to leave the in-camera session due to her conflict of interest in an impeachment vote.
Billy Zimmermann (Unite/Labor Right), who also apologised on March 10 for characterising Trumble’s email as ‘misconduct’, remains a Board Director.
Obradovic’s since-deleted Facebook post was responding to the revelation Trumble encouraged SA members of parliament to vote down the March 2021 abortion reform bill in his capacity as VP. After On Dit revealed this to students, Trumble claimed using his AUU email signature was an oversight, as he sent the email from a phone app which did not preview the signature within the message. He said he contacted the MPs to clarify it was sent in a personal capacity.
Obradovic apologised to the Board on March 10 for making the analogy. It came after a lengthy in-camera session, just after she demanded Trumble to resign from his post for ‘being a known sexist,’ referring to the email.
However, it appears the apology was not enough, and Obradovic paid the price for humiliating her political adversary.
The AUU Constitution gives the Board limited power to remove Board Directors. It can elect to remove directors on grounds of ‘misconduct’ after a three-fourths majority vote. This happened last year when Ashley Jayasuriya (Activate/Labor Left) and Ella Shaw (Unite/Labor Right) refused to sign declarations swearing they did not leak in-camera information to On Dit. The Board was also dominated by Progress and Liberals at the time.
Matt Monti (Activate/Labor Left) will fill Obradovic’s vacancy as the next highest-polling candidate in the 2020 student election. They will be the first and only student from the still-fresh Music Theatre program to enter the arena of student politics. Monti and Zimmermann are the only non-Progress and Liberal aligned Board Directors at time of writing.
In an email to On Dit, Monti said, ‘I’d like to see the AUU get back to actively advocating for the students and staff of Adelaide Uni, even when that comes into conflict with the wishes of the University administration and especially the VC and Chancellor.
‘I want students to feel like there is someone in their corner at this University. Too often, especially in the age of Miss ‘Rona, as a student it is easy to feel like no one is fighting for you. It can feel like the entire world is against you, especially when the University hires a VC with a history of fighting against his own students.’
On their unique stupol record, they said, ‘It’s about bloody time we had some Music Theatre representation in student politics. As a new course at the University we’ve had to fight tooth and nail for everything we have today, and I think this understanding of how much students need to fight for their education gives MT students a unique insight into what we need to do as student activists going forward.’
The next Board meeting is scheduled for June 9.
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