Student Unity

From Academic Kids

Student Unity, also known as SU or simply Unity, is a factional grouping within the Australian National Union of Students. It is aligned towards the dominant Right faction (sometimes referred to as Labor Unity) of the Australian Labor Party. As such, it is the NUS faction most closely aligned with the current policy direction of the ALP leadership. Among the Labor student factions it is distinguished by its support for HECS, as opposed to free education which is championed by the Labor Left factions.

The faction came about in its current form in 1991, when members of the Labor Right within the NOLS and Independent factions refused to support the election of Natasha Stott Despoja as NUS President, and subsequently formed their own caucus.

Since then, Unity has become numerically the biggest single faction in NUS, with a presence in all states. The faction has successfully retained the position of NUS National General Secretary (a position combining Deputy President, Secretary, and Treasurer) every year since its inception, thanks largely to a "sweetheart deal" usually made with NOLS. The current incumbent is Sacha Fenton of the University of Queensland. In 2005, the National Welfare&Small+Regional Officer Katana Smith from Flinders University, as well as the State Presidents of NUS in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT are also members of Unity.

Unity usually represents itself by means of a yin-yang logo, encapsulating its position at the centre of the NUS political spectrum. The organisation views itself as being both pragmatic and principled, while opponents claim it to be a sordid cabal of corrupt machinists.

Unity's policy approach in general is characterised by: support for increased and high-quality service provision from student organisations; an emphasis on fiscal responsibility and limitations on spending; and advocacy and support for Labor policy on higher education issues. As far as representation goes, the faction shies away from debate on international issues and others it sees as not directly affecting students, and takes a moderate approach within NUS positions on social policy. Unlike other Labor student factions, Unity makes use of conscience voting on controversial social issues such as drug policy.

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