Macquarie University Union Use of Student Funds

About this Item
SubjectsStudents; Trade Unions; Macquarie University
SpeakersKeneally Ms Kristina
BusinessPrivate Members Statements

Page: 3470

    Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY (Heffron) [5.55 p.m.]: Earlier this year I was appointed a member of the Macquarie University Council by the Minister for Education and Training. It is a proud association. I note that under the leadership of Macquarie University Council Chair Maurice Newman and Vice-Chancellor Steven Schwartz, research training and commercialisation lie at the heart of Macquarie University's vision and strategic plan, Macquarie @ 50. At last Friday's council meeting, during the public session of the meeting, I was saddened to learn that council heard a disturbing report on inappropriate, and possibly illegal, use of student funds by the Macquarie University Union [MUU]. The MUU, under the name of Students at Macquarie [SAM], is a separate legal entity from Macquarie University. It has a professional management and board. Students at Macquarie provides a range of student services, such as child care, food outlets and student publications.

    Clause 5 (a) (iv) of the Macquarie University Union Constitution, which deals with restrictions on the use of income, states, "The income of MUU must not be donated to religious or political organisations." On 15 September 2006 the President of the Macquarie University Union, Victor Ma, authorised payment from MUU income of $2,000 for two tables at a Liberal Party fundraising dinner held at the Epping Club on 31 August 2006. The board of the MUU, which met on 15 September 2006, asked Mr Ma to provide advice about whether the payment constituted a donation to a political organisation. Mr Ma said he attended many functions but did not recall the exact details. He then said a meal was provided, and that therefore it was not a donation.

    The board of the MUU advised Mr Ma that it believed it was a donation and that restitution should be made. On Monday 18 September 2006 the board requested copies of the invoice and payment authorisations. The board was subsequently advised that prior to 15 September, the date of authorisation, the source documents relating to the transaction were removed from the financial controller's office. Who is on the university union? As I have said, Mr Victor Ma is the president. As I have also said, the union is a separate legal entity from the university. It has its own board, which is responsible for ensuring that the company acts according to its rules and constitution.

    The company secretary of the Macquarie University Union board is Mr Kyle Kutasi. Along with Alex Hawke, Mr Kutasi is one of the office holders in the Young Liberals. Mr Kutasi's name might be familiar to members: he was named on the ABC 4 Corners program as a sleeper, a branch stacker and a muscle man, who was following a strategy devised by David Clarke to effect a right-wing takeover of Liberal Party branches. David Clarke is the godfather of the extremist Right of the Liberal Party. But not only is Kyle Kutasi one of the spiritual sons of godfather David Clarke, he is also a family member, having cemented his place in the godfather's hierarchy by marrying Mr Clarke's daughter Anne Marie. These are the ugly right-wing extremists who have hijacked the party, driving out Brogden, Forsythe and the honourable member for Hawkesbury and who are now putting in their sights the honourable member for Davidson, the honourable member for North Shore and the Hon. John Ryan in the other place.

    Not content with hijacking the Liberal Party of New South Wales, these right-wing extremists are now hijacking the student union at Macquarie University—raiding student funds that should be going to student services. Given that SAM funds child care services, this diversion of $2,000 is tantamount to taking vegemite sandwiches out of the mouths of babies to fill the coffers of the extremist right-wing of the Liberal Party. Not only is this shameful, but it is also in direct contradiction with the constitution of the student union. I repeat that SAM is a separate legal entity from the university and no-one should draw negative conclusions about the conduct or the integrity of Macquarie University. But SAM, its president, Mr Ma, and the company secretary, Mr Kutasi, need to make this right. The money should be returned. Perhaps Mr Ma can be excused for his youthful exuberance in pursuing a future political career in the Liberal Party, but there is no excuse for Mr Kutasi or Mr Clarke, who should know better. That money belongs to the students at Macquarie University and it should be returned.