Great motion passed at a Victoria University Branch meeting of the National Tertiary Education Union.
THAT the NTEU-VU Branch Committee endorse the following statement of policy and associated actions. This motion should be communicated to the Victorian Division Executive and to the National Executive. It should form the basis of a motion to go before National Council for endorsement in 2014:
Australia’s practice of the mandatory detention of refugees is wrong. Staff at Australian universities overwhelmingly reject it as immoral, ineffective, and wasteful. The NTEU is committed to supporting actions that will bring about an end to this policy.
Mandatory detention only occurs because the government supports it and because commercial investors support it. Stopping this abusive regime requires persuading and pressuring those parties to withdraw their support. The NTEU has already made decisions about the endorsement of election candidates and political parties in response to their attitudes towards refugee processing. This statement of policy acknowledges that the NTEU has a similar role to play in offering and refusing support to companies on similar grounds.
One major point of influence for the NTEU in corporate decision-making is the investment profile of the UniSuper fund. UniSuper’s decisions to invest or not invest in firms that take contracts to imprison refugees offshore, indefinitely, or under terms of detention that contravene the NTEU’s stated policies on refugee processing can make a significant difference to the capacity and willingness of those firms to collaborate in this abusive regime.
While the NTEU does not exercise complete control over UniSuper decisions, it has an important say in the investment decisions of the fund. This statement commits the NTEU to take all reasonable steps to change UniSuper’s practices so that the fund expressly dissociates itself and its members’ resources from companies that receive money for the mandatory and offshore detention of refugees.
NTEU officers will make clear representations to UniSuper, calling on its Board of Directors to change the fund’s investment practices in keeping with the values of this statement. That implies an especially important responsibility for NTEU-nominated members of the UniSuper Board to push for these changes to policy and to keep NTEU members informed of the progress towards reform.