Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 4. Monday, April 8, 1963
The Ethics Of Sgm's
The Ethics Of Sgm's
Sir,—Before resigning his position as editor of Salient, G. W. R. Palmer has abused that position, entrusted to him by the Association, to slander the character of two students.
He has raked up the past of one to bolster his disgraceful leading article. While all fair-minded persons will deplore such tactics I have no doubt but that this student will answer for himself.
Mr. Palmer has largely replied on innuendo and distortion of fact to substantiate his attack. Referring to the part that I played in the Pees issue last year, he says: "The methods he used then were thought by some to be unsavoury." What methods? Who thought they were unsavoury?
The methods I used were to assist in the requisition of a Special General Meeting of the Association in accordance with its constitution and at that meeting to move a vote of no confidence in the Executive which was carried by a substantial majority.
Using the two facts that I once worked on the Waterfront and that I am now studying at the University, he issues this distortion: "Since Bill Dwyer retired to University from his Union activities on the waterfront, he has become something of an agitator." I need hardly point out that the word "retired" is an invention of Mr. Palmers imagination, that the word "agitator" results from his prejudice and inability to acknowledge that the views of another may be honestly held and are, to that extent at least, valid.
For Mr. Palmer's information I might add that I was instrumental in calling far more special general meetings on the Waterfront than' I have been involved in here at the University. Some people may fear and dislike such meetings. For my part they appear to be healthy organs of a democratic society.
Mr. Palmer implies that as my name appeared either moving or seconding a number of resolutions at the Special General Meeting. I must have been responsible for the "forgeries" in respect of resolutions which were erased from the agenda.
The Constitution of the Association provides that fifty members may requisition a Special General Meeting and must stipulate the business to be transacted. Hence forgery could only occur in the list of signatures. It is common knowledge that requisitions in the past have been signed by such personages as "K. J. Holyoake," "A. T. Mitchell . . . subject to his consent" etc. Of course, strictly speaking, it might be said that the perpetrators of these signatures were guilty of forgery. The persons circulating a requisition must expect flippancy and even abuse of this type.
As for the names linked to the resolutions, there is no requirement or provision in the Constitution for them. However, as a matter of convenience in the past, it is now normal practice for the sponsors of a requisition to tender a list of movers and seconders to the Secretary. While I was not a sponsor of the last requisition I may speak in respect of those I sponsored last year and say that when the secretary asked me for such names—there being none on the actual order paper—I supplied such to the best of my ability relying on my own judgment, largely, in the absence of specific commitments.
Thus where I was unable to contact a person, who had signed the requisition in the first place, and who, I thought, was interested in moving or seconding a specific item on the agenda, I placed this persons name with the secretary.
At the Special General Meeting, I laid responsibility for the "Cappicade shambles" (Salient terminology) on the shoulders of the Executive.
I did so because the Constitution gives the Executive unrestricted power over the affairs of the Association. Such power surely implies corresponding responsibility. Whether Mr. Palmer agrees or not, this is certainly a valid point which may be honestly held and advanced.
But this position for Mr. Palmer is sufficient justification of the accusation of "contemptibly low political principles applied without discrimination."
Mr. Palmer has done the student body and Salient' a gross disservice. An apology might help to undo the damage done. Adequate space for reply is the least that justice requires.