Flat White

Our universities and more…

9 June 2018

10:11 AM

9 June 2018

10:11 AM

I suspect a fair few readers are pretty incredulous about the whole Peter Ridd saga at James Cook University. Ridd was fired, we’re told, not for the substantive content of his views about the Barrier Reef but rather for the tone of an email related to the disciplinary process his university had instigated against him. Who believes this? For a start, why had the university launched disciplinary proceedings about him in the first place anyway? Was that also because he had earlier complained about the process, a sort of ‘you’ve mocked our processes twice now’ grievance (and if so we can ask the same question of why had that earlier one been launched)? Or was it because the top administrators didn’t like his views or something substantive about the way he was doing his job? Let’s face it, at some point as you work your way back in the chain of events what the university disliked had to be something substantive – something related to Ridd’s views, or about his teaching, or about his research record, something other than ‘he mocked our disciplinary process in an email’. What was the original sin, as it were? After all, disciplinary proceedings in our universities don’t begin by chance, based on nothing but administrative whim? (Okay, I’m not wholly positive about that last assertion, but work with me here.)

Note, too, that this saga is not without an element of hypocrisy as far as some defenders of the university are concerned. The complaint against Ridd is that he breached a confidentiality agreement. But of course, the woman trotted out on TV to attack President Trump, Ms Stormy Daniels (no relation to Jack), was also bound by a confidentiality agreement. I don’t recall anyone on the left giving two hoots about that. Maybe that’s the right attitude. Maybe it’s not. But if you thought such a confidentiality agreement was next to irrelevant when it allowed someone to perpetuate and inflame your TDS (‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’) then shouldn’t it also be irrelevant for you as far as this Ridd/JCU affair is concerned?

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I arrived into London Heathrow airport ten days ago. It is always the same. Those with EU passports flow through customs faster than the boats arrive under an Australian Labor government. Meanwhile those of us with Commonwealth passports, and more particularly those of us from countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia where significant proportions of the male population died in two world wars to protect Britain, well we languish in the customs line for well over an hour. At one point I counted that of the 24 potential customs desks only three were manned. (Ladies, if you don’t like the verb ‘manned’, substitute that with your own favoured mot juste, perhaps ‘privileged’ or ‘overpaid’ or ‘too good at stuff for my liking’.) Customs officers stood around chatting, more doing this than actually working on clearing what was a huge line. There was a sign advertising that we could apply for an expedited service that would let us in future use the EU line. But a friend told me that you have to pay for this, and also that you need to be a frequent visitor to the UK. Wow, that must be why all those Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis laid down their lives for Britain. You can’t say ‘gratitude’ better than being allowed to fork over dollars to be treated the same way as the Germans – provided, that is, that you visit regularly.

Frankly, it’s a disgrace. Here’s what I would do were I the PM or relevant Minister (so this is obviously pie in the sky dreaming, not to mention that Julie ‘I’m against Brexit and the election of Donald Trump’ Bishop would never do anything to break the Davos Man consensus). I would instigate a separate and new line in Australia, and preferably organise it so that Canada and New Zealand do this too. All Brits and only Brits would have to use this customs line, and I mean all of them even those with diplomatic passports. In fact especially those with diplomatic passports. This line’s work practices would be laid down by the CFMEU, in consultation with the neo-Marxist political science professors in our universities who teach the history of labour exploitation (aka ‘every subject in the social sciences curriculum’). Basically the customs officers would never work. They’d be like the unionised dockworkers in World War II. So the Brits would be standing there wondering why the eight customs officers were milling around having coffee and chatting, not realising that this is in fact world’s best practice and the only way to stop exploitation. And the line, if it moved at all, would move slower than this Turnbull government does in bringing down the debt, instituting a sane energy policy and pursuing anything conservative at all. Best of all, the Brits would be able to watch all the other customs lines clear through as plane after plane had its non-British passengers sped through customs. Well, we’re allowed to dream aren’t we?

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Some of you may have noticed that of those in the US who say they’re likely to vote, Donald Trump’s approval ratings have now hit 50 percent. That’s better than Canada’s Justin Trudeau’s ratings and better than Theresa May’s. Turnbull would stab any number of colleagues in the back to get that score (though in his case it wouldn’t help because it would be people who won’t vote for him who approve of his dragging the Liberals to the left, and anyway he’s running out of colleagues to do this too); and of course it’s miles and miles better than what Angela Merkel scores. Hey, maybe if you’re a right of centre politician you might by now realise that trying to cater to the massively left-leaning press and chardonnay-sipping inner-city types is a stupid idea. Maybe implementing strong conservative policies, and weathering the expected abuse from ABC type public broadcasters and the mainstream press generally, won’t hurt you. After all, these are overwhelmingly lefties who hate small government, strong borders, strong defence, and sane energy policies. Their approval isn’t worth winning. (Are you listening, Malcolm?)

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Of course it helps if you do NOT have one of the world’s most powerful Upper Houses that waived through just about every Julia Gillard Big Government Bill – indeed just about everything put to it from the Left – but then opts to block nearly all things involving cutting spending and delivering a conservative agenda, even policies put to the voters at the last election.

It’s time, in my view, to do something about our puffed up and over-powerful Senate. ASAP! Trump would be telling it like it is about our Senate. And he’d be right.

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