On April 16, 2018 I delivered the following Outgoing President’s Report at the conclusion of my term as Melbourne University Liberal Club President.
Today I am pleased to deliver my final Report as Club President after what has certainly been an eventful thirteen months in the role.
Although not without its challenges, 2017 was an incredibly successful year for the Club and I leave the position of President content in the knowledge that 2018 promises to be equally successful.
Together, we have achieved a great deal over the past year.
I have been fortunate to have presided over a period in the Club’s history that will continue to shape MULC for many years to come, and to have led the Club through a number of significant reforms.
Perhaps most significantly was our major review of the Club’s Constitution, which culminated in a series of wide-ranging reforms adopted in October of last year. These amendments were designed to increase transparency, promote greater inclusion and expand opportunity within the Club, and I am incredibly proud that they were approved by club members with such overwhelming support.
Another significant new development during my tenure has been the re-introduction of the MULC Policy Committee, which I was pleased to lead alongside my former Policy Officer, Club Vice President Chris Kounelis. With strong interest from a large number of first year club members, Policy Committee has already begun shaping our weekly debates and has brought a new level of professionalism and intellectual rigour to the Club’s policy activities. It will also be an important element of the Club’s ongoing policy advocacy and activism, particularly in respect of our ongoing push for the reintroduction of voluntary student unionism, and it is my hope that many of you will avail yourselves of the opportunity it presents to further hone your policy skillsets this year.
In addition, I am pleased to have been able to have lead the establishment of the Club’s new Public Lecture Series – another project about which I have been particularly passionate. It was fantastic to be joined by Caterini Politi from STOP. One Punch Can Kill and by Damian and Rae Panlock from the Brodie’s Law Foundation for the first two of these lectures, and I hope that club members benefitted as immensely from the wisdom they shared as did I. In light of this recent success, I look forward to seeing this series continue under the leadership of the 2018 Committee and to attending many more lectures in the years to come.
I am also proud to have presided over the continuation of the MULC Parliamentary Internship Program instituted in late 2016. Now having completed its second year, the Parliamentary Internship Program is a unique opportunity for members to gain real-world skills and experience behind the scenes in a Member of Parliament’s office and has been a particular passion of mine since I oversaw its introduction as Club Secretary. I was, therefore, at first reluctant to hand over the management of the program in its second year, but am very pleased to report that Chris Kounelis did not let me down in delivering another fantastic series of internships for club members.
2017 was also a year filled with many highlights and fond memories.
Foremost among them was the incredibly successful ALSF Federal Conference hosted by the Club in July, which saw dozens of Liberal Students descend on the University of Melbourne in what was a rare opportunity for MULC to prove once again why we are rightly known as Australia’s oldest and greatest campus Liberal Club. Not only were we joined by a phenomenal host of guest speakers, including MULC alumni from a diverse range of experiences post student-life, but the election of myself as ALSF President and Matthew Carlei as Victorian Representative once again proved to me that, when we work together, there is no limit to what MULC can achieve. While it was an honour to convene Federal Council, it must be noted that the Conference would not have been the great success that it turned out to be if not for the efforts of my team – Andrew O’Shea, Elizabeth Biggs, Matthew Carlei and Chris Kounelis.
The 2017 MULC Budget Trip was another great highlight of my term as President. Not only did 2017 see the Club meet with a record number of Federal MPs, but it also saw an expanded program of activities, including attending the ACT Young Liberal Budget Ball for the first time, visits to the Australian War Memorial, High Court and Old Parliament House, and a range of other social events. Sitting as the only Liberal Club in the Speaker’s Gallery on Budget Night, the trip again reaffirmed my great belief in MULC’s immense value as an institution and was incredibly rewarding as someone who has invested so much in the Club’s success. Again, my thanks to Chris Kounelis for his invaluable assistance in the organisation of the trip, to Elizabeth Biggs for her graciousness in hosting the Club in Canberra and to all who attended for making the trip so enjoyable.
Finally, perhaps the greatest highlight of the year was, naturally, the 2017 MULC Annual Dinner. We were privileged to be joined by former Victorian Premier the Hon Jeffrey Kennett AC for a wonderful evening celebrating the 25th anniversary of the election of the Kennett Government and the imminent election of the next great Liberal Government later this year. With 130 friends and supporters in attendance, Annual Dinner once again demonstrated the immense support of the Club’s vast network of alumni and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of the Club’s activities – both on and off campus.
I’m also immensely proud to have presided over one of the most active and comprehensive, proudly and openly Liberal tickets to contest Student Union Elections in recent memory, achieving a 15% increase in our share of the vote for Students’ Council and almost securing the election of the first Liberal councillor in what is possibly a matter of decades. Furthermore, I was proud to have facilitated the formation of the new, openly centre-right ‘Choice’ ticket led by Chris Kounelis, that was at least 10% more successful than the ‘Create’ ticket it replaced. These results prove to me that we can and should, as Liberals, be loud and proud about our beliefs on campus, and that we can effectively hold the Left to account on campus if we remain true to our values.
I conclude my term as President incredibly content in the knowledge that I have left the Club in a stronger, more unified position than the one I inherited.
The 2018 O-Week was a particular success, in which I was ably assisted by Chris Kounelis and members of my committee, as we recruited dozens of new members to an institution that now enters its 93rd year.
It has been truly terrific to see so many new members seize the wide range of opportunities that the Club has had to offer so far this year. Indeed, I am especially encouraged by the 2018 intake of new members and look forward to watching on as you grow and take charge of the Club in the years to come. It has been fantastic to see so many new faces at meetings and events over the last few months. Indeed, the contribution of new members to our weekly policy debates, in particular, has been exceptional. This underscores the Club’s capacity for intellectual leadership across our movement, and I hope to see this spirit of leadership continue in the year ahead and long into the future.
Other events over the thirteen months since I was elected have included:
- Policy Forums with John Pesutto MP, the Hon Bruce Atkinson MLC, Andrew Norton and A/Prof Tim Lynch
- Politics in the Pub with Louise Staley MP
- Our O’Week Alumni Barbecue with the Hon Tony Smith MP, the Hon Senator Scott Ryan, the Hon Robert Clark MP and Senator James Paterson
- Our Week 1 Welcome Barbecue with the Hon David Hodgett MP and Neil Angus MP
- Our annual tour of Parliament House with the Hon Michael O’Brien MP and ALSF tour with the Hon Robert Clark MP
- Two Bake Sales in support of the ANZAC Appeal
- New Members Welcome Drinks, Holy Thursday Drinks, two End of Semester Dinners and Drinks, Christmas Dinner and a South Australian Election Viewing Party
- The annual Hickman Cup – won by first year Nelson; and many more.
We’ve also campaigned in Bentleigh, Box Hill, Evelyn, Eltham and Prahran as we approach the 2018 Victorian State Election and will continue to do so. In addition, MULCers campaigned in the key seats of Davenport, Elder and Morphett in the lead up to the South Australian Election, helping to secure the election of the first Liberal Government of South Australia in 16 years.
Now our attention must turn, particularly, to re-electing alumna Louise Staley in Ripon and electing alumnae Bridget Vallence in Evelyn and Amanda Millar in Macedon. I know that the Club can have a tremendous impact in November, as we have many times before, and encourage each of you to support the Club’s campaign efforts this year.
I know that if we continue to work together, MULC can achieve many more great things in the years to come. With an increasingly unrepresentative NUS continuing to oppose students’ interests, it is incumbent upon MULC to lead a renewed effort to promote VSU on campus. Furthermore, with a critical state election rapidly approaching, now is the time for us to take action to help secure Victoria’s future after four disastrous years of the Andrews Labor Government.
Thank you for ongoing support of the Club, particularly during my term as President. I would not be standing here today if not for the immense, unwavering support of club members, and for that I am truly, deeply thankful. I am also incredibly grateful for the friendship and support of many of my predecessors, as well as members of my executive: Nik Sachdev, Chris Kounelis, Matthew Carlei and Anna Pryse-Smith.
I look forward to continuing to serve the Club this year as Immediate Past President, as well as to supporting the incoming Committee over the months ahead. Together, I know that, if we stay the course, MULC will continue to enjoy many successes in 2018 and beyond.