UMSU Passes Motion Condemning the Guardian’s ‘Bird of the Year’ Survey24 November 2017
The University of Melbourne Student Union’s (UMSU) Students’ Council passed a motion to condemn Guardian Australia for its failure to provide a preferential voting system in their ‘bird of the year’ survey.
The survey, launched by Guardian Australia on Monday, allows users to vote for one of 51 native Australian birds. Currently, the poll is being led by the Australian white ibis, more affectionately known as the ‘bin chicken’.
The motion, which was introduced to Students’ Council yesterday by Daniel Beratis and seconded by Molly Wilmott, condemned the first-past-the-post voting system as “un-Australian”, given the Australian tradition of preferential ballots.
“UMSU affirms the right of all Australians to rank people, places and things, but not necessarily in that order, at any time, at any place, anywhere in this great southern land,” the motion reads.
also first-past-the-post voting is antiquated and weak as shit preferential or DIE
— Doctor Whomst’d’ve (@miwillmott) June 9, 2017
Additionally, the motion encouraged all UMSU Office Bearers to vote for the Australian white ibis, although this was later amended by Tyson Holloway-Clarke to the wedge-tailed eagle. In the case of a preferential system being enacted, Office Bearers were encouraged to put the magpie last.
The motion also directed action from UMSU’s President, Yan Zhuang.
“UMSU directs the President to either issue a press release to this preamble and motion’s effect at the earliest opportunity, or to otherwise sigh very loudly in the general direction of Guardian Australia‘s offices two times, shaking her head upon the second time.”
Zhuang must complete this demand before the poll closes on 8 December.
Students’ council just passed a motion to make UMSU support the bird poll changing to an optional preferential model
— Mary Ntalianis (@mary_nta) November 23, 2017
Out of the 11 councillors in attendance, Matthew Simkiss was the only councillor to dissent on the motion.
“I found it ironic that the same people who were complaining that there was not enough time to discuss important policy around the NUS [National Union of Students] were willing to take up precious council time discussing a bird article in the Guardian. Furthermore I condemn in the strongest way possible the idea that the magpie is anything but a majestic and wonderful bird,” Simkiss said.
The survey has received widespread attention on social media platforms. Guardian Australia even detected two instances of automated voting from powerful owl supporters.
— Guardian Australia (@GuardianAus) November 21, 2017
Politicians, too, have joined in on the action. Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, revealed that he voted for the emu, whilst Senator Richard Di Natale has expressed support for the gang-gang cockatoo. Guardian Australia was quick to point out that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not yet joined the debate.