Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Refugees, trouble at UNE

The responses, media as well as political, to the tragedy that struck the refugee boat off the Western Australian coast has, to my mind, been quite unbalanced. Listening to Opposition Leader Turnbull reminded me just how much I had come to dislike the Howard Government's approach to asylum seekers. I really don't want to go there again.

Re-reading past posts also reminded me of the basic inhumanity that had crept into the rhetoric and actions of the Howard Government.

Of course Australia has a right to determine its migration policies. However, the mark of a civilised society lies in the way things are done. The Howard Government breached the rules of what I see as a civilised society. Mr Turnbull appears no better, acting like a linear throwback who cannot let the past go.

The world is full of elections at the moment to the point I can't keep up! My position here is not helped by the fact that my train reading has been so obsessive on other things that I have barely read a newspaper in the last two weeks. I have caught the TV news in the evening and also looked at the on-line editions, but these are hardly a substitute for the papers themselves.

One of the points about elections in the Australian context is that they provide a way of changing things. We may not always like the changes, but they are necessary to overcome the staleness that creeps into all long-standing administrations.

When I wrote yesterday's post, The University of New England's senior management blog, I had no idea that the troubles between the former Chancellor and the VC would again grab today's headlines. Academic quits amid blistering dispute is the Sydney Morning Herald headline.

As Richard Torbay, the new Chancellor notes, student numbers this year at UNE are up 10 per cent. So its not all bad.

I plan to write a full post on this dispute looking at it from the personal perspective of someone who has known the University well over many years. I accept that some of my attitudes may seem old fashioned, I have very particular views on the role of universities, but it is an important dispute in terms of what it tells us about the current state of and directions in Australian higher education.


Anonymous said...

The link to the SMH article doesn't work. Here is one that should, but it is fairly long and may not post correctly. If you need to compress links, there is a website called tinyurl that enables you to do this for free.


Jim Belshaw said...

Hi anon. I have fixed the link. My thanks.