NTEU Newcastle Branch statement: Re-election of Professor Jennifer Martin to University Council

NTEU Newcastle Branch Media statement 19 Oct 2021

NTEU Newcastle Branch welcomes the re-election of Prof Jennifer Martin as Academic staff Representative on University Council. Following an internal Branch membership nomination process, we were pleased to promote Prof Martin as our Branch endorsed candidate to NTEU members and to all staff voting in this election. It is no surprise to me that staff have supported Prof Martin’s re-election to Council. She has proven she will not be a group mouthpiece but a strong independent voice and will act in staff and the University’s best interests. She, I imagine, now feels vindicated by the overwhelming staff support that she did the right thing for the future of the University and the Hunter region in speaking out against Mark Vaile’s appointment to Chancellor.

The last few months have reinvigorated staff interest in the governance of the University and staff and student representation on Council. For example, many casual/session staff and conjoint (unpaid) teaching staff have expressed disappointment that they had no right to vote in these staff representative elections. Further, on the back of member and staff requests, NTEU will be pushing to have University Council meetings public once again so that staff can observe discussions and lift the veil on the interests and debates behind University council decisions. Public institutions should be accountable to the public, and the return of general council meetings would be one way of achieving such.

I hope this closes the door on what has been a distracting time for our peak governance body. Council can now refocus on planning for the future, and holding management to account in achieving the promises they have made in justifying change. Too often, change is effected, the processes are not transparent, doesn’t achieve what was promised, and those in charge are never held accountable.

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