Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Gutless ANU

Bettina Arndt

My latest concern is the decision by the ANU to buckle to pressure from students and the union and pull out of negotiations with the Ramsay Centre over the proposed course on Western Civilisation. I’m sure you will have read about what’s going on there.

I have a long history with what was once a great university. My brilliant father, the economist Heinz Arndt, was one of the founding professors and worked there for over 50 years. I was on the ANU Council for over 17 years and watched many of the university’s leaders establish a formidable institution. 

I have just written to the current Vice-Chancellor, Brian Schmidt, telling him my father would be turning in his grave about the Ramsay decision. 

As the university’s own website makes clear the Ramsay negotiators were not desiring an undue level of influence over delivery of the programs, staff appointments, what was to be taught and by whom. Indeed, I was surprised to hear that Ramsay had agreed to allow the ANU to have ultimate control over all these matters – a very brave decision given the fact that many academics currently working in the humanities at the university are so clearly antagonistic to the values inherent in the Western Civilisation course.

You may not be aware that these issues had been fully discussed and agreed upon by the two parties to the negotiation, as the University’s CASS website demonstrates. Here is the link:

Here are some extracts from that website:

7. What are the risks to the ANU? ….The University’s legal framework requires ANU to retain control of the delivery of its programs. Our strong University academic structures govern academic curriculum, delivery and standards and any new degree would need to be approved by the usual ANU processes and subject to the usual quality reviews. The proposed Ramsay Scholarships would be ANU Scholarships, and, as such, also fall under University policies and procedures. Students in the proposed program would be subject to ANU legislation, policies and procedures regarding academic progress, misconduct and discipline. Similarly, staff appointed under any funding arrangements would be appointed by an ANU selection committee and would be ANU employees, subject to the University’s HR processes and procedures.

15. Who will decide the curriculum? Curriculum recommendations will be made by the Partnership Management Committee (consisting of two academic staff from the Ramsay Centre and two academics from the ANU, one of whom is the Dean of CASS) and considered through the normal ANU academic processes.

Also clause 25 regarding selection of staff for the Centre spells out that hiring decisions will be made in accordance with the normal hiring procedures and that the staff will be all ANU employees. “Ramsay would have a limited number of nominees on the selection committee but the committee would be chaired by the Dean of CASS and have a majority of ANU nominees.”

As this website states,  this is all normal practice at the university. It is clear from the wording of the website that the two parties had reached agreement on all these key issues, prior to intervention from the union and the decision by the ANU to back away from the long negotiations. I believe you are being misled by one or more key players who have sought to scuttle the deal.

I am already aware of many eminent people connected to the university who are very alarmed by what is happening and I can assure you that the public concern will only increase. I know there are many current academics staff who are shocked by this turn of events but too nervous to speak out – which demonstrates the impact the current corrosive climate is having on academic autonomy and intellectual freedom.

Please help me spread the word about what’s going on behind the scenes in the Ramsay/ANU scandal – many people are working really hard to misrepresent the facts. 

Via email from

Mundine says Shorten ‘hasn’t a clue’ about indigenous life

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine has dismissed Bill Shorten’s claim that too many Aboriginal children are being removed from their families as “a load of garbage”, saying the Opposition Leader “doesn’t have a friggin’ clue” what is going on in remote communities.

At the weekend, Mr Shorten highlighted his promise to hold a summit within the first 100 days of a Labor government to tackle the issue of indigenous child protection, hitting out at “know-it-all whitefellas” who “come in ­paternalistic” in their ­approach to indigenous affairs.

Mr Shorten made the comments during a visit to the Northern Territory community of Barunga, east of Katherine.

Mr Mundine, a former federal ALP president, said Mr Shorten was a “living example” of the kind of “whitefella” he was criticising.

“The man is a complete fool and it’s a disgrace that this guy is actually running for prime minister of this country when he’s just talking of more reviews,” Mr Mundine said. “I’m quite happy to sit down and have a conversation about it and save him the trouble of another talkfest.”

In February, a toddler was raped in Tennant Creek, having remained with relatives despite the family being the subject of 52 notifications to child protection services over 16 years.

“In the last few weeks we’ve seen the violent abuse of Aboriginal children that is happening out there, and we know that is only the tip of the iceberg because we’ve had about 40 reviews ­nationally on these areas since about 2004,” Mr Mundine said. “I’ve sat on several of those and, quite frankly I’m very, very angry in regard to Bill Shorten’s response. I found it a load of garbage and he needs to get his facts right.”

Indigenous Labor MP Linda Burney defended Mr Shorten, saying an opinion piece by former ALP powerbroker Graham Richardson, published in The Australian yesterday, was “disgracefully inaccurate” in claiming Mr Shorten had suggested leaving indigenous children in vulnerable circumstances.

“In Australia today, more First Nations children are in out-of-home care than ever before,” Ms Burney said. “The rate of removal of these children is the highest it has even been and, as we know, too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are ending up in juvenile justice institutions. This issue is complex and few would claim to have the ­answers.”

Ms Burney cited her previous role as a minister with responsibility for child protection in the NSW government.

“I understand as well as anyone this wicked policy challenge,” she said. “It means looking at the reasons underpinning child ­removal rates, and identifying why there has been such a significant ­increase since the apology (to the Stolen Generations in 2008).

“It doesn’t mean — as suggested by yesterday’s article — turning a blind eye to the social problems, simply to drive down child removal rates. On the contrary, it means tackling these things head-on and having an honest conversation about how this situation changes.”


Leftist racism never stops

The University of Melbourne faces calls to cancel a “divisive” dance performance that separates white audience members from people of colour, makes white patrons sign a declaration before entering the theatre, and then stops the dance when they take their seats.

Where We Stand, a performance created by third-year Victorian College of the Arts student Isa­bella Mason, aims to highlight how indigenous people and people of colour have been excluded from society and history.

The performance is the first of four scheduled in the Dance ON 2018 showcase, which is meant to celebrate 40 years of the Victorian College of the Arts dance course, run by the University of Melbourne.

The show has been labelled divisive by some commentators and audience members, while the show’s creator admits it has confronted some ­attendees with the way it segregates them based on the colour of their skin. White audience members miss out completely on a dance routine in the theatre.

“Realistically, there are simply two different shows for two different audiences,” said Mason, 20. “The (white) audience in the foyer are invited to go through a process of accepting/transitioning/cleansing similar to a right of passage.

“I do not consider the ritual in the foyer to be any ‘lesser’ a part of the performance however many audience members feel as though they ‘missed out’ on the ‘real show’ in the theatre.”

People of colour are invited to enter the show first, while white people must wait outside where four dancers, who introduce themselves by their preferred pronouns, talk to them about white privilege.

White patrons are then asked to sign a big brown piece of paper on the wall that states: “I ­acknowledge where I stand.” If they do not, they are not allowed to enter the theatre. Once there are more white audience members in the theatre than people of colour, the show stops and the audience is left to sit and think.

“Of the five shows thus far, we have not had equal representation on any night,” Mason said.

The student of mixed Maori and European heritage said audience members had reacted in different ways to her show and admitted some had walked out.

“I have had a number of people contact me to tell me their own experiences and thank me … Many have cried … Some have been angry, some have walked out,” she said.

Institute of Public Affairs ­director Bella D’Abrera said the University of Melbourne should cancel the performance.

“It’s reverse segregation and if people are paying for tickets, and taxpayers are funding the VCA, then they should be let in … or they should stop the performance,” she said. “I’m not surprised the university hasn’t criticised this, I’d be more surprised if they did. This is more taxpayer-funded identity politics.”

The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Music acting dean Jon Cattapan said Mason’s dance piece was “provocative” and “exciting”.

“Exciting, contemporary and, on occasion, challenging student work is something we encourage across all of the art forms taught and developed at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music,” he said.

Mason said staff at the VCA did raise concerns that the performance could be controversial with audiences but said it was her decision and they supported her.

One concerned patron said he and his partner refused to sign the paper, adding that several other patrons were ­distressed by the performance. “We were both fascinated and appalled to be living in our own episode of the Chinese Cultural Revolution experience,” he said.

“Each girl would then take it in turns to declare her racial pedigree … and then her preferred pronouns before declaring her attempts to overcome her white privilege and what these teenagers thought we should be doing to overcome our privilege.”

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said one elderly woman was shaken by the performance and said the university should be held responsible for allowing race-based practices.

“I don’t blame the girls involved in the piece, they are young and self-righteous,” he said. “I do blame the University of Melbourne for allowing racial selection on campus in any shape or form. I am gobsmacked that any university would preside over an event where entry is based on skin colour. I naively thought this was a line that even the regressive left wouldn’t cross.”

Centre of Independent Studies senior research fellow Jeremy Sammut said the segregated performance was the “antithesis of an arts performance”.

“This work divides us … people shouldn’t be lumbered with the guilt of the past,” he said.

“You are supposed to enter a performance with an open mind … not sign up to a particular set of views. This piece also lies to us about the current reality of ­racism today … there is much less racism or prejudice in our society than there has ever been.”



ABC’s problem with political diversity goes a long way back

During the past 50 years the ABC has been criticised by Coalition and Australian Labor Party leaders alike. The unexpected bipartisanship turns on the fact ABC journalists and producers tend to attack both major parties from a left-wing — and increasingly green-left — perspective.

In recent times, Malcolm Turnbull and/or his Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, have complained to ABC managing director and editor-in-chief Michelle Guthrie on a range of matters.

These include the reporting on tax and innovation by ABC ­economics correspondent Emma Alberici along with statements by ABC political editor Andrew Probyn and ABC 7.30’s chief political correspondent Laura Tingle.

Fifield has accused Probyn and Tingle of repeating “a Labor lie” about the timing of the forthcoming by-elections in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.

When former prime minister Tony Abbott clashed with the ABC concerning Q&A — even to the extent of preventing his ministers from appearing on the program for a couple of weeks — Turnbull, who was communications minister, did not embrace Abbott’s criticism. It is understood his attitude at the time was that most journalists were on the left and it was to be expected that this would be reflected in the public broadcaster. Turnbull appears to have had a change of attitude since moving into the Lodge.

From his early days as prime minister, John Howard called for the ABC to appoint a “right-wing Phillip Adams”. This was another way of saying the ABC was a ­conservative-free zone without a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. Two decades later, nothing has changed.

Labor leaders at the commonwealth level are invariably from the party’s right-wing, or social democratic, faction. Kevin Rudd recently received a grovelling apology from the ABC for its inaccurate reporting in recent times of his government’s home insulation program. And Julia Gillard’s supporters were correct in objecting to the demeaning way in which she was presented in the comedy series At Home with Julia during her time in the Lodge.

However, the most serious conflict between the government and the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster took place when, as prime minister in 1991, Bob Hawke effectively accused the ABC of bias in its coverage of the first Gulf war.

Hawke, a member of the ALP’s right-wing faction, clashed with then ABC managing director David Hill, who also happened to be a member of the Labor right. In his semi-official history of the ABC, Whose ABC?, KS Inglis described the resultant controversy as a “public and domestic conflict as troubling as any in the ABC’s history”.

Hawke’s stoush with Hill led to the public broadcaster bringing greater balance to its commentary on the first Gulf war and, on one occasion, providing an ABC critic a right to be heard.

Hawke well understood that he was being attacked on the ABC from the left since many of its journalists and producers opposed Australia’s involvement in the campaign by the UN-approved operation — led by the US — to drive Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait.

The problem in 1991 turned on the fact there was an absence of political diversity within the public broadcaster. It’s much the same today. In any organisation without a plurality of views within it, a certain groupthink will form.

This is accentuated by the unwillingness of Guthrie and her predecessors, including Mark Scott, to run the organisation on a daily basis. Instead, power over programming, appointments and promotions is handed to several cliques that prevail over certain programs. 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales denies the ABC is bereft of conservatives on prominent programs, but she has been unable to name one within the organisation.

Writing in Fairfax Media newspapers last week, ABC chairman Justin Milne stepped forward to defend the public broadcaster. His article was another example of the ABC in denial. He declared that “Australians should not be fooled by the current battle being waged against public broadcasting” and asserted that “fringe political interests, populists and commercial media all have a shared interest in weakening the ABC”.

Well, maybe they do. And maybe they don’t. But the ABC’s immediate problem turns on the decision announced in the 2018 budget that its expected indexed increase in funding across the next three years will be frozen. Fringe political interests, populists and the like do not determine budget decisions.

Also, Milne neglected to address the lack of political diversity in the ABC. On Guthrie’s watch, action has been taken to ensure that the public broadcaster reflects a greater range of views from indigenous, ethnic and religious (primarily Islamic) groups.

However, Guthrie has done nothing to put some political diversity into the organisation. She appears to hold the view that journalism is a left-wing profession and there’s nothing the ABC can do to change this.

Milne ran the familiar ABC line that 80 per cent of Australians regard the public broadcaster as “the most trusted media organisation in the country”. If this is the case, it’s not clear why the Seven and Nine networks’ news services consistently outrate the ABC.

Funding for the ABC has never been an issue in Australian elections and this is unlikely to change in the immediate future. Consequently, it makes no sense for the ABC to be consistently off-side with so many political and social conservatives. It needs bipartisan support.

In the short term, the ABC would be well advised to split the roles of managing director and editor-in-chief and appoint someone to the latter post who is prepared to ensure political diversity at the level of programming and appointments.

Also, the ABC’s editor-in-chief should be equipped to handle criticisms by the likes of Turnbull and Fifield without referring them to middle-level bureaucrats in the first instance. An active editor-in-chief could ensure that the public broadcaster develops a culture of correcting its own errors in real time. It’s not a difficult task.


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:

PB said...

I'm sure Ms Burney would love ever more money for more programs and workers of varying kinds to address Indigenous this or that...anything to keep them from turning the spotlight on themselves and saying "Just maybe its us".

Blaming Whitey is so much easier.