Uni of Melbourne Student Union passes motion in support of divestment | #Transfield #UniSuper #NTEU

Below is the text of the preamble & motion that was passed at UMSU:

Background:

Australia’s border regime and its reliance on mandatory indefinite immigration detention is the target of frequent, global condemnation as unjust, cruel, and illegal.  Offshore immigration detention centres on Christmas Island, Manus Island, and Nauru have been singled out for particular condemnation, with reports emerging that asylum seekers are being raped, beaten, and even killed while in the care of the Australian government. The remoteness and secrecy of these prisons shields the Australian government from accountability for this violence.

All Australian offshore detention centres are run by private contractors. These contractors act as a further shield against accountability for the Australian government, and profit in doing so.  Infrastructure and waste disposal company Transfield recently won the contract from G4S to run detention centres on Manus and Nauru, to the value of $1-2 billion dollars, depending on unspecified “contingencies”.

One of the largest investors in Transfield is UniSuper, the industry super fund for the tertiary education sector. Superannuation is compulsory under Australian law.  As such, all academic staff employed at the University of Melbourne, and the majority of UMSU staff, have investments in Transfield, and receive returns as Transfield’s contracts expand. As the NTEU and UMSU have consistently taken a position against mandatory detention, this cannot be considered to be the desire of the majority of UniSuper investors. The NTEU has a representative — therefore a voice — on the UniSuper board.

Investing in companies like Transfield makes us as individuals and institutions accountable for these abuses.  Further, our investments provide us with a point from which we can put pressure on all potential contractors to refuse contracts to run detention centres. As such, Transfield is the target of a boycott and divestment campaign from a broad coalition of pro-refugee groups, including RISE Refugee, Students Thinking Outside Borders, Crossborder Operational Matters, Boycott 19 BoS, and Beyond Borders Collective.

In the context of massive cuts to education, and corresponding redirection of funds to border control, all university students and workers must stand firm against profiteering based on racist border panic.

Motion:

We reiterate our opposition to mandatory immigration detention.

We commit to divesting from all contracts with Transfield and other businesses or funds with investments in immigration detention.

We call on UniSuper to divest from Transfield and all other businesses or funds with investments in immigration detention centres.

We further call on NTEU National Executive to urge UniSuper to divest from Transfield and all other businesses or funds with investments in immigration detention centres.

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