Monthly Archives: July 2013

Industrial Action Doesn’t Deliver The Results

The National Tertiary Education Union’s decision to impose a ban on disclosing results to university students across the state has meant losing the support of those that they need most: the students.

After prolonged and ultimately useless negotiations with the universities, the NTEU has imposed a ban on the transmission of assessment results to the uni’s, and this has affected the likes of RMIT, Swinburne, LaTrobe, Monash, and Deakin.

It is entirely counterproductive and unreasonable to put offside those students that pay the fees, to disadvantage those that would have previously provided full backing to lecturers and tutors who are campaigning for better working conditions.

Backlash across social media has been significant and immediate, with many arguing against being involved in a union’s fight with their university, and how the absence of results will adversely affect them.

The NTEU’s demands are entirely reasonable and by all means should be upheld; with the main issues regarding the casualisation of staff members and the increasing tutorial sizes, as well as a fight to not have their pay cut. It’s almost impossible to argue that these aren’t well deserved, and that an overwhelming majority of students would have supported this.

However, involving the students and their thoroughly deserved results by using them as weapons to blackmail the universities, the NTEU has alienated many against their own demands.

Withholding a semester’s results is more than the “small inconvenience” that they claim it to be. For many, the end of semester results can either be a well-deserved reward for four months of hard work, or a much-needed wake-up call for the next semester, but not receiving any results at all leaves students confused and dissatisfied with the past semester and those that are imposing the ban.

The industrial action was also not communicated to students in a clear and obvious manner, with many not finding out about it until the morning that results were meant to be released.

It is also not clear how the ban will affect students that may have failed a subject and need to change their course for the upcoming semester, as well as what exactly entails ‘special consideration’ in obtaining results.

University students should have at least been consulted or had a vote on these actions taking place, allowing them to be involved and supportive of the decisions, instead of having these bans blindly imposed on them, with no end in sight.

Students should never be used as bargaining chips in industrial action. These results are something that they have worked hard for and deserve to receive them when they were previously promised, not something to be controlled and manipulated by the union body.

Students at every university affected are paying a large and significant amount of money to attend these institutions, to undertake assessments, and receive feedback and marks, not to be dragged into industrial action that they can have no real effect on.

Not receiving end of semester results is shortchanging the students that are paying a lot of money to be there, creating unnecessary and sometimes unfixable stressful situations.

Although the ban is not being applied to graduating students or those with ‘special considerations’, it is still hardly an easy process to obtain the grades, with students having to fill out a request form, wait for approval, and then forward this to their lecturer to have the ban lifted, delaying the results significantly for those who desperately need them.

Currently, the results ban is indefinitely imposed, with the NTEU stating that it will be in place until the university ‘negotiates reasonably’, and with the results date having come and passed, this will very likely extend well into thesecond semester.

The NTEU needs to come to their senses and lift the results ban, allowing what were formerly their closest allies, the students, to give their full support for the rightful demands for better pay and working conditions.

Far Too Important And Special To Be Lost: Save The Palace

PalaceTheatre

Melbourne is set to lose another iconic music venue, and it’s time to take another stand to save live music in this city.

News that The Palace Theatre may well be destroyed to make way for a hotel has been met with anger and indignation from music-lovers, and rightly so: The Palace Theatre is far too special and important to the Melbourne music scene to be lost.

It was recently announced that the Chinese property investment firm Jinshan Investments has applied to build Australia’s first ‘W Hotel’, a complex encompassing 40,000 square metres, hosting 205 hotel rooms and 145 apartments, estimated to cost around $180 million; because if there’s one thing that we need more of in the city, it’s a hotel.

These plans would include the complete demolition of The Palace Theatre, wiping the iconic, unique, and historic venue off the face of the planet. The Palace is a near-perfect place to watch live music, and losing it would leave a gaping whole in the Melbourne music scene that will have harmful long-term effects.

The current situation is a continuation of a worrying trend occurring across the country, with developers seemingly hell-bent on transforming our vibrant city into a culture-free, dull and life-less one, with the likes of the East Brunswick Club and, for a very short period of time, The Tote, closing down.

If this trend continues, Melbourne may well eventually lose the unique buildings that define it as a city, and merely be another city filled with sky-scraping hotels and luxurious, modern buildings.

Even viewed as a matter outside of live music, the proposed developments will be severely damaging to Melbourne being the self-proclaimed “cultural capital” of the country. To demolish a hundred year old theatre for a 100m tall luxury hotel would set a dangerous and damaging precedent that will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the artistic and musical status of the city.

According to the developers, the proposed hotel will “re-energize” the eastern end of the CBD, although it is as yet unclear how an expensive, high-class hotel which will likely attract only rich businessmen will achieve this better than a renowned and vibrant music venue that attracts thousands of music fans from across the state, and the country.

The building was first erected in 1860 under the name of The Douglas Theatre, but was destroyed by a fire in 1911. The following year, the theatre in its current form was built, originally acting as a cinema, before being transformed into a nightclub and music venue in 1987.

Viewed from the outside, The Palace is a beautiful, attention-grabbing theatre filled with character like no other in the city. From the inside, The Palace is perhaps the best venue in the state to watch live music. With three levels and sizable standing area, including balconies virtually on top of the stage, and enough bars to ensure there’s never a long wait, every single person inside the venue is able to have an impeccable view of the act.

With a capacity of just under 2,000 it is one of the few of this size in the city, and in the last few years, it has played host to the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Death Cab For Cutie, and Animal Collective, and serves an important role in facilitating tours for some of these mid-sized international bands, ones that are far too big to play the likes of The Corner Hotel, but cannot fill the expansive arenas such as Etihad Stadium, Rod Laver Arena, or Festival Hall.

The Palace is an iconic and historic venue, and should have a full Heritage Listing to prevent these types of attempted developments, but this is not the case, and now we must do something to save it. If the Palace Theatre can go, then no another venue in Melbourne is safe.

It’s been proved time and time again that music-loving people can and will take action in order to prevent these venues being destroyed. In 2010, following the forced closure of The Tote due to ridiculously harsh liquor licensing, an estimated 5,000 people rallied on the streets, leading to its eventual re-opening. The same year saw the Save Live Australian Music rally, which attracted between 10,000 and 20,000 people, according to the ABC.

It’s glaringly obvious that we are willing to take real action to save our music scene, and unfortunately this is becoming an increasingly necessary act to ensure the longterm stability of Melbourne’s live music scene.

Three years ago the music-lovers of Melbourne united to save The Tote, and the time has come to do so again. We cannot sit idly by and let these iconic music venues be destroyed one after the other, and the time has come to take a stand.