WORDS || Anna Glen
MUPRA DISPUTE ENDS IN SETTLEMENT
The dispute between university executives and the Macquarie University Postgraduate Representative Association(MUPRA) has ended in an out-of-court settlement agreement. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Students and Registrar, Deidre Anderson, sent an email to all students on 26 August saying all grievances between the parties had been resolved. “The resolution resolves all issues in the proceedings, and to the extent the proceedings involved any concerns about the conduct of any current or former MUPRA officers, those concerns are withdrawn”, the email stated.
Representatives of MUPRA and the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, who assisted MUPRA in its proceedings, declined to comment on the details of this settlement. However, The Australian reports that the $500 000 dollars at the heart of the dispute has been retained by MUPRA, but that $160 000 dollars of this will go to paying legal fees. As part of the settlement agreement, MUPRA will also be dissolved and replaced with a new organisation called Macquarie University Postgraduate Student Association (MUPSA). This body will be established under the Student Advisory Board as a standing committee.
Kieren Ash, who currently sits on the University Council and Student Advisory Board, welcomes the development. In a statement to Grapeshot, Ash said “It’s good to see this difficult period in the university’s history come to an end with an agreement that is satisfactory for both parties. I look forward to a future of student representation at Macquarie that is inclusive, engaged and independent, and MUPSA will play a major role in shaping that”.
UPDATE: REDFERN TENT EMBASSY CLAIMS VICTORY AFTER STRIKING A DEAL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SIXTY-TWO AFFORDABLE HOMES AT ‘THE BLOCK’
In the July edition of Grapeshot, Michael Sturtridge reported on the battle between the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC), which served an eviction notice to residents of the Tent Embassy in February of this year. Sturtridge spoke to Wiradjuri elder, Jenny Munro, who alleged that the CEO of the AHC, Michael Mundine, was not working in the interests of indigenous people. “After forty years of Mundine being here, we know his level of competence – and it’s not very high”, Munro said.
On 24 August, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in favour of the AHC to allow its proposed commercial developments to go ahead, leaving the Tent Embassy with imminent eviction. However, in a last-minute turn of events, Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion, offered five million dollars of funding for affordable Indigenous housing in the area. Under the deal, the AHC is required to build sixty-two subsidised premises for Indigenous families.
Lawyer for Jenny Munro, Lisa De Luca, told the ABC that “had it not been for the hard work of Jenny Munro and the supporters at the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, my opinion is that Nigel Scullion would never have come to the table with this offer”.
STATES SAY THE ‘TAMPON TAX’ IS HERE TO STAY
The ‘tampon tax’, which refers to the ten per cent GST applied to women’s sanitary items, will remain in place despite Joe Hockey’s announcement on the television program Q&A that the tax should be removed. Other products such as condoms and lubricant became exempt from the tax earlier this year.
90 000 people signed an online petition to have the tax removed. The expected cost of lifting the GST on sanitary products would be approximately thirty million dollars per year. Labor state premiers released a joint statement on 14 August supporting the removal of the tax and urged “the Treasurers of NSW, WA, NT and Tasmania to support the proposal”. However, Mr Hockey later announced that the state and federal treasurers “failed to come to a unanimous agreement” to have the tax removed.
AUSTRALIA RANKS FORTY-FOURTH IN THE WORLD FOR THE NUMBER OF FEMALE PARLIAMENTARIANS, STATISTICS REVEAL
Recent figures released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union showing female representation in parliaments worldwide has placed Australia forty-fourth on the list, with the United Kingdom ranking 38th, the US 75th, and Rwanda taking the top spot for the highest number of female representatives.
In Australia, seats held by female politicians account for almost forty-six per cent of the Senate and thirty per cent of the House of Representatives. On a party-by-party basis, female representatives make up roughly forty-three per cent of Labor and twenty-seven per cent of the Liberal Party. Tony Abbott’s incumbent cabinet has just two women, and there are eight women in Labor’s shadow cabinet. These numbers make Australia one of the worst
in the industrialised world, according to a report published by the OECD this year.
In light of this poor representation, Labor has committed to fifty per cent female representation by 2025. The Liberal Party has set ‘targets’ but says it will not implement quotas, preferring to take a ‘merit-based’ approach. “It would be entirely reasonable for our party to have — not a quota — but a target to increase the number of women in the parliament,” (now ex) Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. If the Liberal Party’s merit-based argument is to be accepted, this means there are significantly less capable women joining the party.
Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, took aim at this assumption, saying he had worked with a number of Liberal frontbenchers and they “certainly did not get there on merit”.
GENDER SELECTION ON THE CARDS FOR IVF CLINICS
The National Health and Research Council is considering whether to allow IVF clinics to give parents the right to choose the sex of their child. At present, sex selection is banned and may only be permitted for medical reasons, such as in cases where there is a high likelihood of the transfer of a debilitating genetic condition.
The Chairman of the Australian Health Ethics Committee, Professor Ian Olver, is overseeing the review. He says a “number of Australians are going overseas to seek [sex selection] because it’s not available here and it’s certainly something that people are beginning to talk about for things like family balancing”.
Tereza Hendl, who completed her PhD at Macquarie University on the non-medical reasons for gender says sex-selected abortions are also taking place in many parts of the world. The United Nation estimates that more than one-hundred million girls are ‘missing’ because they have never been born. There is some evidence to suggest that sex-selective abortions may be occurring in Australia within certain communities.
Data from the Bureau of Statistics shows that Chinese and Indian parents are having higher numbers of male children. Macquarie University demographer, Nick Parr, says that sex-selected abortions are the most likely reason for the discrepancy, telling SBS News “there has to be some sort of pre-natal sex selection taking place. In my opinion the most plausible explanation is that there is sex-selective abortion occurring”.