ACT Greens Senate candidate Simon Sheikh’s wife has admitted she had "made a mistake" after allegations her husband had been campaigning during two lectures at the ANU, where she teaches.
Mr Sheikh's spokeswoman said students at the Australian National University had been offered the chance to sign up for campaign updates, not as volunteers as some have alleged. Some students have claimed that Mr Sheikh, a former GetUp! national director, promoted his candidacy and Greens membership during two political science lectures on Thursday, and that his wife Anna Rose had sought to recruit campaign volunteers.
An ANU spokeswoman said the matter with Ms Rose had been resolved through an internal informal process, after she acknowledged that “she made a mistake” in regards to expectations of staff under university policies.
The university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor expressed full confidence in Ms Rose remaining as co-convenor of the Leadership Course, where the incident happened.
“The university is currently undertaking a formal internal process to review the matter and ensure that all ANU staff aware of their responsibilities and rights regarding political campaigns,” the spokeswoman said.
She said Mr Sheikh had been given permission to speak about electoral enrolment, make electoral enrolment forms available and provide more information on political campaigning to interested students.
“He did not seek permission, nor would it have been granted, to campaign in a class,” she said.
The university has also offered ACT Liberal Senate candidate Zed Seselja the opportunity to talk with the class.
Mr Sheikh declined to be interviewed, but issued a statement likening the incident to “a storm in a teacup”.
"People at universities should be able to discuss political ideas and engage in the political process without others attacking them for it. Students have always been politically active, and always will be," he said.
His spokeswoman said that sign-up sheets distributed among students were not registration for volunteer roles, though attendees had been given the opportunity to register for campaign updates.
“A laptop was also passed around to one row of students, where students could sign up for campaign updates if they wanted to,” she said.
“At the end of the class Simon encouraged the class to get involved politically, explicitly saying that it didn’t matter whether it was with the Greens, Labor or the Liberal party on the grounds that the most important thing was for young people to have a say in the decisions, and decision makers, that will shape their futures.”
Last month, Fairfax Media reported that Mr Sheikh had denied misrepresenting the length of time he was a member of the ALP before joining GetUp! News Limited reports said Mr Sheikh was a party member for a total of four years, contradicting his claims that he was a member of the party for only one year.
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