Thursday, June 07, 2018

ANU ‘gutless’ to reject study of West, says uni boss Greg Craven

The Australian National University’s reluctance to host a ­pro­posed Western civilisation course is “the greatest act of gutlessness since Trevor Chappell bowled under­arm to New Zealand”, says Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven.

“This whole exercise is not a protection of academic freedom,” Professor Craven added, referring to ANU’s rejection last week of the Western civilisation program proposed by the Ramsay Centre, chaired by former prime minister John Howard.

“It’s one of the greatest failures of academic freedom in Australian university history … What’s happening here is not an attempt to protect a diverse range of studies and views around civilisation, but to make sure one particular view, as far as possible, is kept ruthlessly out of the university.”

The ANU was in negotiation with the centre until last week when discussions regarding academic freedoms broke down.

Yesterday, federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham let fly at unions and activist students for using “fear and negativity” to shut down debate on the plan, saying he hoped another university would take up the offer. “I hope they (the universities) stare down the fear and negativity that the likes of the (National Tertiary Education Union) or various student unions engage in from time to time and recognise that academic freedom and free academic inquiry should extend across all disciplines,” he said.

It has emerged the Ramsay Centre approached other universities about the Western civilisation program, but none agreed to take it on. “Melbourne is one among many Australian universities approached by the Ramsey Centre,” said University of Melbourne acting vice-chancellor Mark Considine. He said it appre­ciated the opportunity but had not submitted an expression of interest.

The University of Sydney confirmed an approach by the Ramsay Centre. “However, the University of Sydney needs to make its own assessment of the opportunities and risks independent of the current noise,” it said.

Macquarie University said it met the Ramsay Centre last year “for initial talks on potential collaborations”. None was pursued.

Professor Craven declined to say whether the Ramsay Centre had approached the ACU: “Of course we’d look at a program like Ramsay, and I would have a lot more confidence in the ­robustness of our own academic processes than ANU apparently has in theirs.”

He said the ANU’s rejection of the Ramsay proposal should not be seen as a protection of university processes and independence.

“It is a complete misconception that universities do not continually have discussions with partners outside the university about everything from research to teaching to courses, for the purpose of designing something that meets needs and intellectual imperatives,” he said.

“I hate to break the news to people, but take for example linkage research projects with industry … Does anyone seriously believe that the two partners do not discuss what the research looks like and what its outcomes are going to be and where it’s going to go, so that it is literally acceptable and beneficial?

“I think what’s happened is a group of people wish to preclude particular academic perspectives and have tried to do so under the false flag of academic freedom and due academic process.”

Professor Craven said it was “astonishing” that while a centre for Western civilisation had been deemed inconsistent with academic freedom, six universities host Confucius centres, which some observers say are under Chinese government control and used to disseminate pro-China propaganda .

“I think this is really a bit of a defining moment for Australian universities,” he said.

Ramsay Centre director professor Simon Haines condemned the tenor of the debate. “Some of the recent media comment, from both ends of the political spectrum, has been deplorable,” he said, labelling the treatment of some academics “unacceptable”.


The surge in LNG exports helping to boost Australian GDP

Australia’s latest GDP report will be released today, and it’s expected to be pretty good.

Year-ended growth is expected to lift to the high 2% region, maybe more. Macquarie Bank estimates as much as 0.4ppts of this growth is entirely due to stronger LNG exports.

A quarterly increase of around 0.9% is expected, leaving growth over the past year at 2.8%, maybe more.

While much of the year-on-year increase will reflect growth in household spending, the largest part of the economy at around 60%, there’s been another tailwind for the economy that has helped to boost growth.

Already one of the largest LNG exporters globally, Australia could become the largest in the not too distant future. It’s set to surpass Qatar for that title next year, according to Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Depending on price movements, it could soon displace metallurgical coal as Australia’s second-largest export by dollar value behind iron ore.

As LNG exports ramp up as facilities are completed, this looks set to add further to year-ended GDP in the period ahead, partially explaining why the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is forecasting that Australian economic growth will sit above 3% per annum over the next couple of years.

Japan is the largest end destination for Australian LNG exports, followed by China.


Meshel Laurie is seriously annoyed by the fact her son was bullied over a single choc-chip cookie

MESHEL LAURIE has written about her son being bullied over a single choc chip cookie in his school lunch box.

The Melbourne-based media personality took to Twitter to express her dismay over her eight-year-old son Louie’s experience:

“I wish that “bully” could go back in time to my primary school in Toowoomba in the early ’80s for just one little lunch,” she continued on Twitter.

“Cookies were biscuits, shoes were optional, and bullies were not known for their health food programs.”

The issue obviously deeply angered Laurie, 42.

“I really, really want to advise my son to tell that kid to f**k off. Just nice and simple. Right in his smug little face. Old school” she continues.

“Ugh. I know I can’t though. That kid is hiding behind the niceness of the school. It’s hard being a bogan parent sometimes.”

A number of Twitter users sympathised with Laurie.

“Oh, [school has definitely changed],” wrote Twitter user @tracywodonga.

“My children think cigarettes are akin to heroin. I used to use cigarettes to barter for Mars Bars in year 8!”


Inclusive of anything other than ourselves at universities

The vice-chancellor called the meeting to order.

“In deference to Ramadan,” she started, “there are no pastries, juice or coffee. Also, I acknowledge we meet on indigenous land. We respect elders past and present and their spiritual connection with the land. Out of respect for Mother Earth and the spirit of Gaia we are carbon-neutral today with no ­artificial light. Please ensure your computers and phones are switched off. Let’s proceed.”

“Perhaps we should also start with a prayer,” suggested Simon, the science department head. Heads swivelled in his direction. He smirked.

“Oh, for a moment I thought you were serious,” gasped the vice-chancellor. “Now, the first item is the proposal from the Thatcher Centre for Western Civilisation to establish a unit here.”

“I’ve been looking forward to this discussion,” enthused Helen from sociology. “Me too,” said Simon.

“Sorry, Simon, the #metoo public awareness campaign is next on the agenda. Let’s stick with Western civilisation for now.”

“I know, I was just agreeing with Helen,” winced Simon.

“Now, there is a case to be made that we don’t even need to consider this unit because we have space issues. The new building is almost full; we’ve got the ­Indigenous Culture Pavilion,­ ­Sharia Legal Studies Centre and the Institute for Environmentally Effective Energy Economics,” explained the vice-chancellor. “But the architect has a revised plan to cut back on the suite of safe spaces to make some room.”

“Hang on, that is supposed to be for the Feminist Democracy Unit,” interjected Rhiannon from women’s studies. “As soon as the university senate votes, it is ready to roll.”

The vice-chancellor consulted her assistant. “Apparently we are waiting for a ruling on whether all senate fellows get a vote or only the females.”

“Actually, just to clarify, vice-chancellor,” interrupted Damien from admin, “the proposal is not a female-only vote but, more specifically, to allow senate fellows of all gender groups to vote with the sole exception of cis-­gendered males.”

“OK,” she nodded. “But presuming it goes ahead, it still means we would have no room for a Western civilisation unit so this debate is redundant.”

“Er, sorry to break in,” said Regina, the professor of philosophy they tried to forcibly retire from the executive but who had successfully protested to the commissioner for the ageing.

“The rules for assessment clearly state we must consider the intellectual merits of the proposal, leaving ­accommodation for the management subcommittee.”

They reluctantly accepted Regina’s point and Helen started the debate. “What is the case for this centre? Look at the diversity on campus; we can see the growing influence of Asian, European, Arabic and Jewish cultures. What would some centre for Western civilisation add to any of this?”

The vice-chancellor knew the room but went through the motions. “The way the Thatcher people tell it, Western civilisation has been crucial for democracy and education. They say this university, in a way, represents the epitome of Western civilisation.”

“How bloody paternalistic,” snapped Helen. “This is cultural imperialism — these old, white, xenophobic dinosaurs are trying to claim credit for our diverse, tolerant and multicultural institution. Besides, if we really are the pinnacle of Western civilisation already, why on earth do we need their unit?”

“Spot on,” cheered David from psychology. “Man, that was great,” chimed in Simon. “Er, I mean, woman that was great. Oh you know what I mean, jeez, well said Helen.”

Regina cleared her throat. David, Simon and Helen groaned.

“The point about history,” the philosophy professor philosophised, “is that if you know what has transpired, you have a better appreciation of your achievements and you might avoid some of the pitfalls of the past.

“I don’t want to get into a nasty argument,” continued Regina, “but there is a case that without the wisdom and experience of Western civilisation we couldn’t even countenance a sharia law centre, a gallery dedicated to indigenous culture or even funding for universities to teach a diverse range of subjects.”

The vice-chancellor sensed rising tensions and intervened. “Look, it might be best if I just read from their submission,” she said. “Then we will know the Thatcher centre’s case and we can make up our minds.” She pulled out a document. “Western civilisation represents the pinnacle of human achievement thus far. It has led to the triumph of individual freedom and liberty, and has allowed free religious expression, while also ensuring we value reason and scientific fact over superstition and faith,” she read.

“It has delivered the separation of church and state, evolution of democracy, rise of free markets and unions, and fostered technological advancement unimagined in the past and unrivalled by other civilisations.”

“The arrogance,” scoffed Simon. “This mob has got a blatant superiority complex.”

“They probably start their meetings with the national anthem,” quipped David. They all laughed. Except Regina. “Read on, vice-chancellor, this is valuable,” she said.

“The planet now supports more than seven billion people yet fewer live in absolute poverty than ever before and living standards, literacy, healthcare, nutrition and life expectancy have risen to unprecedented levels. Western nations are rich beyond compare and their aid and investment help hundreds of millions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America rise out of poverty.

“Western civilisation has launched rockets, taken men and women into space and to the moon and back; the Voyager 1 spacecraft now is more than 21 billion kilometres and 40 years into its space probe, still transmitting data back to Earth.”

The vice-chancellor’s eyebrow was cocked as she read on.

“They also say that art, literature and music of beauty and sophistication have emerged through Western civilisation engaging and interacting with cultures around the world. And that the pace of scientific, cultural and economic development promises infinite achievement and advancement in the future.

“They claim Western civilisation’s societies have generated this bounty while reaching out to those left behind. They say we must nurture Western civilisation to improve our prospects.”

There was a crash at the door and they turned to see Samantha elbow her way in with a pile of papers under one arm.

“Sorry I’m late,” she huffed. “Just been down at the Adani protest. Can you believe the pro-Palestine mob saw the TV cameras and came down chanting about Netanyahu and war crimes — who the hell do they think they are, invading our protest? Anyway, I haven’t missed the Western imperialist thing, have I?”

“Civilisation, Samantha, civilisation; and no, you haven’t missed it,” said the vice-chancellor.

“Good,” Samantha thumped her papers on to the table. “I vehemently oppose this chauvinistic proposal. Just look at what Western civilisation has done to us. We’ve got a global patriarchy; white men in suits hold all the power. Indigenous cultures have been swamped, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, we generate so much energy we never stop inventing new machines to use it all, we’re cooking the planet, Donald Trump is grabbing pussies and firing rockets, McDonald’s is making people fat, Starbucks are flat-white ­supremacists and we invite Islamist terrorists to kill us by trying to export democracy and consumerism. Why host a centre that celebrates this story of exploitation and shame?”

Spontaneous applause broke out. “Sing it, sister,” Simon shouted. “Me too,” beamed Rhiannon.

Regina sighed and headed for the door. “Why bother?” she muttered in resignation.

“What was that?” queried the vice-chancellor. “You were the only one enthusiastic about this deal, Regina. Do you now agree to reject it?”

“That’s right, vice-chancellor,” said Regina. “Why bother? It seems Western civilisation might be doomed anyway.”

(The characters and institutions in this piece are fictitious)


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

You gotta love how "The Australian" gaslights their pro-Israel bullshit into that essay. Very clever. Mr Bernays would be proud.