The University of Queensland’s Student Union has been prompted to produce a 24-point Action Plan to address concerns around the findings of an independent audit, commissioned following claims of impropriety during the 2012 Union elections.
The audit summary, released on the 12th of April despite Vice-Chancellor, Peter Høj, calling for it “no later than early March”, has sparked contention, particularly around the funding of more than $64,000 worth of merchandise for incumbent political group, Fresh.
Union President, Rohan Watt, appeared vindicated however, saying in a media statement that “we have always said that the allegations were politically motivated by those candidates and their supporters who were disappointed that they were not elected at last year’s election to run the Union”.
Regarding political allegations, opposition group Democracy 4 UQU spokesperson, Gianni Sottile, said “the audit is an insufficient examination of the events, as there’s not too much in it about the flaws in the conduct of the elections”.
Despite this, expense reports show that auditors, BDO Australia, are seeking legal advice as to whether there were breaches of the Funding and Services Agreement, and Student Services and Amenities Fee guidelines.
The Union believes there is a lack of clarity in the current guidelines and Mr Watt has assured that “the new UQU Executive does not agree that this kind of expenditure is desirable or appropriate”.
Mr Sottile cites a breach of section C33 of the Union’s constitution, and said that “even if they paid some of the money back, just because you’re running an organisation doesn’t mean you can use it as your personal credit card and, I don’t know about you, but I can’t magic up those five-figures to bank-roll a campaign”.
Social Sciences student, Regan Inglis, who hadn’t heard of the audit release, expressed a common view in saying “if (the Union) are trying to get more student involvement and increase transparency, releasing an audit on a Friday afternoon seems like a strange way to go about it”.
In the Union’s media statement, Mr Watt said “the Action Plan will be implemented prior to the commencement of second semester this year, which is also prior to this year’s UQU elections”.
Both the Union and University declined further comment, and dates for the action plan’s implementation and Union elections have yet to be revealed.