What was a triple coronation could be a campaign as the National Tertiary Education Union selects its new leadership.
Federal president Jeannie Rea and national secretary Grahame McCulloch are not contesting the imminent election and a national unity ticket was set to replace them. Macquarie University branch president Alison Barnes will be elected federal president unopposed. And no one will challenge assistant national secretary Matthew McGowan in his move up to the top job. This demonstrates how wise Mr McGowan was not to act on his decision to leave the union, (CMM February 10 2016).
It was also expected that the third member on the ticket, WA state secretary Gabe Gooding would face no challenge – she is widely considered a hero in the union for leading the enterprise bargaining fight at Murdoch U.
But that was before powerful people in the NSW branch decided she was a no-go. CMM understands that UTS branch president Vince Caughley is set to nominate for the assistant national secretary spot, with the support of NSW state secretary Michael Thomson. This is not a great start for Dr Barnes, with her judgement in standing on the same ticket as Ms Gooding explicitly rejected by her own.
While Mr Caughley did not respond to a request for comment yesterday, tensions between the federal leadership and the large, but not nstionally influential NSW branch, run deep. Close observers of the union also say some senior NSW members argue Ms Gooding was responsible for too many concessions in the dispute at Murdoch University which managements at other universities have seized on. Her supporters respond that this is dead wrong, that Ms Gooding stared Murdoch U management down in a fight over conditions which the university managements’ industrial lobby was using to set precedents across the country.
However yesterday some veteran members in NSW suggested that having one of their own as federal president might be enough to encourage Mr Caughley not to run hard, if he runs at all.