Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: 2023 UMSU Elections, Explained

Preliminary results for the 2023 UMSU Elections are in, and we now have a good idea of what the union will look like for the next twelve months. Spoiler alert: not much has changed.


Provisional results for the 2023 UMSU Elections are in, and we now have a good idea of what the union will look like for the next twelve months. Spoiler alert: not much has changed.


Office Bearers:

Community for UMSU will still hold control over most important Office Bearer positions, retaining every currently held office and gaining Creative Arts and Education (Public) from Stand Up!, who retained Women‘s, Education (Academic) and Clubs + Societies.

Left Action candidates running under the Community ticket now hold Environment and Education (Public), with Socialist Alternative now holding more OBs in the union than they have for decades.

Independent Media have retained the Media Office despite a rare contestation, and a new ticket called Southbank Students! For UMSU has retained Southbank Coordinator, Activities and Education, inheriting them uncontested from defunct incumbent ticket Independents for Student Democracy.

Independent candidate Hamish Rose was elected uncontested as Indigenous Officer, and Burnley Coordinator fell vacant with no nominees.


Students' Council:

Students’ Council has yet to be fully declared as affirmative action and preference distributions still need to be applied, but Community will likely retain a comfortable majority of around 11 seats on primary vote. The Labor Right-aligned ticket, founded during the first remote election in 2020, won control of the union last year and is poised to keep it.

Left Action have likely won 3 General Representative seats on primary, along with Indigenous Rep and Southbank Rep, solidifying Socialist Alternative as the second largest faction on campus with a predicted 5 councillors.

Rebuild, a Liberal-aligned ticket founded in 2022, will retain 1 seat on primary and likely gain another on preferences, to a total of 2 councillors—the largest Liberal presence in the union for years.

Stand Up!, a coalition between Labor Left and breakaway Labor Right subfaction TWU, will likely win 2 seats on primary—one more than they currently hold, but a far cry from their traditional position as one of the strongest political groups on campus.

Independent Media is currently just short of a quota, but may pick up enough votes for 1 seat from preferences.

Everything else is uncertain. At least three General Representative seats are still in play, and the above predictions could change significantly with the application of affirmative action. Our best prediction is 11 Community, 6 Left Action, 2 Stand Up!, 2 Rebuild, and 1 Independent Media, but this is only an informed guess.

Made with Flourish

In terms of Committees, Community are likely to control most if not all, with strong minorities from Stand Up! and Left Action vying for crossbench positions on the particularly close Education Committee.

Prized NUS Delegate positions look to be split 3 Community, 2 Left Action, 1 Stand Up! and 1 Rebuild, almost certainly translating to 3 Unity, 2 SAlt, 1 NLS and 1 Liberal on conference floor. Whilst the reaffiliation of the larger University of Queensland Union to the NUS last month will devalue UMSU’s delegates, this is still a sizable coup for the Liberals—between UMSU and traditional Liberal holdout UQU, they may now have a foothold to reenter NUS politics at December’s NatCon.


What does this all mean?

Stand Up! seem to have staved off a further collapse after last year’s elections and have even recovered some of their primary vote, but are in no position to contest Community or Left Action for OBs or Council. Despite a modest improvement to their primary vote across the board, Rebuild are still unable to win OB positions, but could be in striking distance after leaving Stand Up! with only a 6.8% margin for Ed(Ac)—safe according the AEC perhaps, but if any hack’s MP boss were in this position, they’d be rightly sweating.

Community have walked out of their fourth year slightly bruised perhaps, but hardly battered—a repeat or improvement on last year’s almost uncontested election was never on the cards. Whilst their Council primary may have dropped slightly, they are clearly still the dominant faction in UMSU.

Left Action are arguably the biggest winners of this election cycle, with two autonomous reps on Council, at least two general reps, and de facto control of two offices they didn’t even have to run for. They are considerably larger than Stand Up!, and with no discernible Grassroots Independents presence remaining in Community, Socialist Alternative now have a defensible claim on the numbers to being the largest left-wing group on campus.

And that’s that—2 OB positions changing hands, a slightly different Council, and a handful more independent candidates means that whilst the nominations sheet might have looked a bit different, after the dust has settled, UMSU won’t.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


Farrago's magazine cover - Edition One 2024


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