Saturday 22nd of June 2024

on the pavement of learning something...


As I see my shadow, I notice I have a small head. No wonder I can’t remember much and I have to work my butt off (may be I should use my brain) to comprehend anything. Meanwhile there are some (too few) mighty minds around.

For example, Dr Spence, AC BA LLB Sydney  DPhil PGDipTheol Oxford, was appointed the 25th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney in 2008. His aims have been to maximise the University’s great strengths: depth and breadth of disciplines, a commitment to challenge ordinary thinking and a genuine desire to do good in the world — all through excellence, engagement and simplification.

An alumnus of the University of Sydney, Dr Spence graduated with first-class honours in English, Italian and law. He also speaks Chinese (Mandarin) and Korean. Dr Spence lectured in law at the University and worked for the Australian Copyright Council prior to departing from Australia and establishing himself at the University of Oxford, where he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy and a Postgraduate Diploma in Theology. He became a Fellow of St Catherine’s College at Oxford, and during his 20 years at the college, he headed Oxford’s law faculty and social sciences division, one of the four divisions that make up the University of Oxford.

Dr Spence is internationally acclaimed in the field of intellectual property theory, law and the law of obligations, with a focus on ethical and economic justifications for the existing systems.

Boom… One can only be super-impressed by Dr Michael Spence. I believe he has a rare ability to memorise and sythesise stuff that few of us can dream of. 

There are very few people who, like Spence, can do a million things and still keep smilling while they manage the most difficult of tasks and keep their conscience pure, have a clean vision and are full of generous motives. 

May be Dr Spence should be a politician… or not. 

As the CEO of a university he has a much greater responsibility — the future of humankind's understanding in his hands — which is far more important than politics, where most elected dudes have given up on this vision splendid in favour of haggling over the price of fish to keep the voting plebs happy. 

I don’t have any clue why Dr Spence studied theology. I guess than when one has the brain-power to understand complexities, one has to also know what the hypocritical religious implications have had on our societies, and the best way to do this is to plunge head first into the core of the beast: the existence of god. This could also be part of studying the social “science”, which like politics and economics, is an ART form in which the parameters are defined by our choices of paint, rather than a science in which the parameters are natural and cosmic.

We are told that theology is the "critical study of the nature of the divine". 

Augustine of Hippo was the first geezer to define the Latin equivalent, "theologia", as a reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity. Richard Hooker, a 16th century Anglican priest named "theology" as "the science of things divine". Theology begins with the assumption that the divine exists… There again “science” is a misnomer. It should be the “art of the divine” because how can a science be based on an assumption? I would not have a clue. 

This does not augur well, but this does not mean that one should dismiss theology, as it is an interesting complex development in the human misunderstandings of life. Life is a wonderful chemical reaction in which processes are not as mysterious as they once were, because we deliberately wished to ignore its temporal mechanics in favour of making our story up. Our dream is to make life more pleasing than the reality of pain and death, as we try to avoid both by using subterfuges — including medicine, the power of the mind, including imagination, and the belief in eternity. 

Apart from being a "comforting synergy” for some of us, the existence of god is part of the big lies we tell ourselves and others, in order to sell morality as a basis for our behaviour rather than understand the natural levers of our animalistic activities. This is where Stylism comes in. Stylism is our way of inventing a better life for ourselves rather than being a worm. Nothing wrong with this but the stylistic step such as the invention of god is ridiculous. It does not make any sense. Stylism as a process to deal with uncertainty on a cosmic scale was defined by my alter-ego more than 55 years ago.

That evidence for and about the existence of god may be "found” via personal spiritual experiences — or historical records of such experiences as documented by others — shows there is no evidence, except ridiculous assumptions that twist the power of the mind... The study of these assumptions is not part of theology, but it helps investigating the philosophy of religion, increasingly through the psychology of religion and something called neurotheology (whatever that is — god in neurons?). Theology thus aims to structure and understand these experiences and concepts, and to use them to derive prescriptions for how to live our lives. It’s grand bullshit used by the controllers of our mind to turn us into submissive bananas or send us to war  — as well as pay for hierarchical golden hats and ritualised theatre, while being told to stay quiet in our little corner.

Fair enough. This imagined twistery confirms that god does not exist. Why should He (god is a male) pay attention to a species that behaves like pigs and burns the place down? Well, discussing the existence of god gives us something to do. It employs a lot of people in various mercantile religious occupations and has a structural hierarchical Ponzi scheme value to make us accept the notion of kingdoms versus a state run by the people. 

This is where theology can make us understand our misunderstandings. Of all the humans on the planets, only about a third subscribe to the idea of a single god. The others stil pray to a multitude of gods or, as we all should be, do not believe in this nonsense, and allocate a brainspace to the natural evolution of our Stylism. But most of us are not ready for this. It’s quite confronting to know our animality intimately. 

This is why we invent make-up for the ladies and colourful undies for the blokes. We are the imperfect species that had to improvise to survive. Our social network and our belief in god became part of this adaptation, while stealing the fur from the bears.  But can we do better? Yes we can and we should, considering our stylistic interpretations have gone crackers, but we unfortunately drag along a lot of “traditions” and “rituals” that do nothing for “our next”. 

Our next is also limited by our brain power, which for whatever (natural) reason, is about 99 per cent based on adhering to habits that we learn with fear of sticks and rewards of carrots. And we are often conflicted. Our memory resists learning more under such conditions. It takes a lot of efforts to go "beyond”.

This is why someone like Dr Michael Spence is unique — or rare. He can learn and process things with ease, that shames, say, the hubristic pseudo-salesmanship of a Donald Trump. Dr Spence should tell us his secret of easy learning and about the stylistic management of applied ideas, in which we fumble because of beliefs and because of the resentment of being who we are.

Liberation from beliefs and computing our knowledge is thus the next. Like his, our commitment should be to challenge ordinary thinking (say challenge the mundane sprout from those radio stars who babble nonsense about who sleeps with whom in the Hollywoodian sphere) and harbour a genuine desire to do good in the world (without the imposition from god, which will end up sending us to a hypocritical "just" war). 

The next is Artificial Intelligence which when done properly will make us leap forward with greater understanding and dare I say acceptance of these understandings. 

And I think that this is where the secret of Dr Spence's fast learning memory and processing resides. Immediate acceptance of understanding and fast dismissal of retarding rubbish. If a symbol and a spoken word means something in Chinese or italian, this is the way it is. Accept it. Train your memory to accept it now. NOW... 

My shadow still tells me my head is tiny… I accept this. I still need to work my butt off... But I live in hope of being an old dog that can learn new tricks, while hobbling along. And by the way, Dr Michael Spence is an Anglican! Wow... It does not make any sense...

Gus Leonisky
Your local garage attendant.


of patents and steam engines...

I did my bit about patents and copyright... as explained in of "patents and socialism"...


I believe my conclusion was somewhat different to that of DR Spence, on the same subject. Though I might go along with him on artistic copyright, On scientific research, here is what I said:

We need to spread the power, the research and the shit around, while minimising theft and maintain exclusion of technological access to crackpots, idiots and terrorists. Easier said than done. Good will is in short supply in the human brain. In this regard, the TTPs are terroristic anathema to the concept of democracy and are secretly concocted because they are reliant in a major part on greed and bad will.

Gus Leonisky
Your local mad inventor.

time for a bit more scientific enlightement...

In an article on the ABC website, Dr Adrian Pabst — an associate editor of the critical theory journal TELOS and on the board of the Foundation Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice whose main mission is to promote Catholic Social Thought — pontificates about the role of the churches and-or-versus populism... One should take this with a couple of grains of salt.


Religion is curiously absent from the two dominant narratives about contemporary populism.

The first narrative views the roots of the populist revolt in predominantly economic terms: a rejection of the status quo on the part of those "left behind" by globalisation.

The second narrative emphasises cultural factors: a growing gap between a new, networked generation who are forward-looking and progressive, and an older generation who are supposedly nostalgic and reactionary.

Common to both narratives is a focus on social divisions between the young and the old, the metropolis and the provinces, those who are university educated and those who are not. These differences can be mapped on to electoral divides such as Remain/Brexit, Clinton/Trump and Macron/Le Pen.

The old opposition of left versus right seems increasingly obsolete, its dominance in contemporary political analysis superseded by a new clash between an open and a closed society: open-door immigration, free trade and global intervention versus closed borders, protectionism and national preference ("America First"). This open-closed framework is conceptualised in terms of liberal-cosmopolitan "people from nowhere" and conservative-communitarian "people from somewhere." In her speech to the 2016 Conservative Party conference, the British Prime Minister Theresa May echoed this: "if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.”


To be fair though, a number of religious leaders have not shied away from speaking truth to power. Take Pope Benedict XVI's prescient warning about the "dictatorship of relativism that does not recognise anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires." And his injunction to marry faith with reason in ways that uphold our embodied soul created by God for eternity. Or Pope Francis's ecclesial vision in Laudato Si' to fuse contemplation and Eucharistic celebration with justice and social transformation.

Or the interventions by Anglican archbishops Rowan Williams and Justin Welby on unjust war and usury. Or indeed the Eastern Orthodox attempts to mobilise government support for the persecuted Oriental Christians and other religious minorities. Binding them together is a commitment to a specifically Christian vision of humanism - the dignity of the person and the common good, which can be defined as an ordering of relationships in a way that holds in balance individual fulfilment with mutual flourishing, based on the dignity and equality of all people.

Such an integral humanism charts an alternative to both liberalism and populist reactions by combining with more virtuous leadership with greater popular participation. The churches are central to this vision. One of their most important tasks is to translate a rich sense of mystery and theological learning into liturgical and festive practices to which people respond intuitively and which would re-infuse our middle-brow culture with both folk culture and high culture. Similarly, the churches need to be more directly involved in educational and civic activities as well as just economic practices, if they are directly to demonstrate to people how the gospel transforms their everyday existence.

Moreover, the churches need to promote a mode of education at every level which re-links knowledge and skills to the spiritual formation of character. I will conclude with these words from Pope Francis during the Jubilee Year of Mercy when he enjoined the Church "to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us."

Adrian Pabst is Reader in Politics at the University of Kent, and co-author (with John Milbank) of The Politics of Virtue: Post-liberalism and the Human Future.


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For Gus the “battle" or "debate" here is unnecessary. A lot of glib statements are pronounced by the powers in charge of making you submit. And this article is more about recapturing your "soul" and cash with moralistic "rich sense of mystery and theological learning into liturgical and festive practices to which people respond intuitively and which would re-infuse our middle-brow culture with both folk culture and high culture".

Bullshit. Intuitive response to Christmas? Bollocks. The idea of Christmas IS NOT INTUITIVE IN THE LEAST. It's a learned response carefull cultivated since our childhood, that we carry with the simplistic idea that we're all sinners in need to be saved by a little baby in a manger. Crap. We're not sinners. We're animals with an ability to delude ourselves.

So, all this is the resultant of choices made by us and made on our behalf by marketeers, including the churches. 

Populism was the marketing technique of choice for the churches, until the end of the 19th century when comforts on earth became the dangle instead of hell in heaven. And I mean hell in heaven. for 2,000 years this had been the motivation for maintaining kings on their throne — cultivating a phony hierarchy that would send you to war or keep you at your station toiling in the fields. Bare survival with the idea of better times when you're dead. Piss on this.

Some people saw there could be improvements to this feudal system, maintained by the belief in god. Revolutions came, new ideas came, but these conflicting dynamics and inevitable reactionary momentum created some of the best and worst outcome. Wars and economic booms came and went. 

It is impossible to simplify all these historical events, where a lot of porkies have been registered as true history, yet the result has been that the churches influence has diminished and the mercantilism of cash has won the day.

A lot of populism is a present reactionary event against the extreme of this mercantilism which, in urgent need of “globalisation”, is destroying the comforts and prejudices of cultures — all for more profit. Some people are saying enough is enough. And they get traction through “populism”. Nothing scientific about it, just a gut feeling that is stirred by seeing corporate signage taking over the beauty of carefully crafted public environments — as well as invasion of hordes (refugees) with different cultural values. As well, under the onslaught of corporations, the caring laws of the land can become contested and eventually made obsolete. 

Games of power, mostly external, are invented to influence and then penetrate the old established tribal (country) structures to destroy them from within. People see this as a threat to their comfortable prejudices to be replace by uglier newer prejudices that do nothing but enrich a few Americans without care…

Let’s face it, the churches have been snookered long ago. They only try to stay in the game for profit. And as their profits dwindle in the face of diminishing attendances and of church scandals such as priests molesting children, they are left trying to hang on to threadbare moralistic issues, without properly entering the debate as they are incapable of choosing a side. 

For years, churches were on the side of the corporates (the kings and power) while keeping the masses quiet, in fear of hell. Kings loved the churches and some English dude the VIII even created his own. By the end of the 19th century churches had to reinvent themselves in the face of social change and of scientific discovery that were destroying their beliefs. Churches are now caught in a quandary, because they need the support of the state, usually a capitalist state, to survive. Without the generosity of capitalism, churches would not survive. But they'd like to preach socialism alla Jesus Christ but they can't.

People have deserted the churches for various reasons, the best of which is comfort. Bourgeois comfort has killed the urgency to believe in god. 

So whatever the churches do, they are not going to pot black. They have lost the game. Reinventing “humanism” through the churches is like appropriation of other ideas and pagan rituals to make them their own churchian narrative, like when the Renaissance saw churches appropriate the Greek and Roman gods, to corner the “debate”. The inquisition was also part of this system to make sure money flowed to the "official" churches, not to the rebelious reformists…

Time for a bit more scientific enlightement. 

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a lot of cash for thoughts...

The only university that has made a major salary cut is the Australian National University, making its Nobel Prize-winning vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt the lowest paid among universities in NSW, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

His $662,000 salary last year was more than 25 per cent lower than his predecessor, Ian Young, who was paid $978,000 in 2015, his final year at ANU.

Dr Spence's salary could not be compared directly with earlier years because Sydney University, which did not respond to a request for comment, changed how it disclosed the payment.


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Read from top and keep smiling... and by TTPs I meant TPPs. I usually get a brain snap with these mercantile concoctions designed to bypass the laws of the land...

tim does it again...

An Australian professor was suspended after showing his students a picture of an Israeli flag partially covered by a swastika during a lecture. The academic says the university has violated his right to “intellectual freedom.”

The University of Sydney suspended Tim Anderson, a senior lecturer in the department of political economy, after he showed the students the graphic of the Nazi symbol being placed over the Israeli flag. The picture accompanied text which compared Israeli and Palestinian attacks and deaths.

“In my view an image of a Swastika superimposed over the Israeli flag references Nazi symbolism,” University of Sydney Provost Stephen Garton wrote in the suspension letter to Anderson. “It is of significant concern that the altered image was created by you and presented to students in the course of your employment.”

The provost also reprimanded Anderson for sharing the same image online from his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, and for making it available for download on the online learning platform Canvas. He proposed that the professor’s employment be terminated.

Anderson, who has also been banned from entering the university premises and contacting students, took to Facebook to express his anger on Tuesday.


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solid debate. no rules breached...

of patents and china...

Some 3.17 million global patent applications were filed in 2017, up almost six percent year on year, according to the latest report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

“China is driving the growth in filings for patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other IP rights that are at the heart of the global economy,” it said.




90% patents are BullS**t, a US created hysteria.ReplyShare21Likes

  • Vanessa DeaganLeaderSunil Aryan15hExactly. Artificially granted monopolies that do nothing except extinguish real choice for consumers. Copying is an attribute of the human species - it's how we survived and thrived.ReplyShare15Likes
  • YokohumoLeaderSunil Aryan9hEditedImagine how humanity will progress without all those patents. We would probably have colonized Mars by now ... there are many studies on the topic - most pointing out that patents slow down innovation and progress, not the opposite.ReplyShare9Likes
  • YokohumoLeaderSunil Aryan8hNo wander that the EU is laugging behind in patent applications, as software patents are not granted in the EU. We fought heavily against those patents in the early 2000’s - with success. Most of the US patents are exactly that - Amazon “1 Click” style patents. No obvious innovation there - just a way for corporations to blackmail small companies.

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a master at work...

Today's press club address (sponsored by Westpac), Professor Margaret Gardner AO – "SOLD OUT" — could be said to have left a few journo in the room with a blank stare of dead river fishes.. The "sold out" sign does not refer to her stance on University funding, but on the fact that the room where she spoke was full to the rafters.

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Chair of Universities Australia and President & Vice-Chancellor of Monash University'A higher purpose: universities, civic transformation and the public good' Wednesday, 27 February 2019 Arrive from 11.30am, lunch 12 noon, speaker 12.30 concludes 1.30pm Canberra - 16 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600

Professor Margaret Gardner became President and Vice-Chancellor of Monash University on September 1, 2014.

Prior to joining Monash, Professor Gardner was Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT from April 2005 until August 2014. She has extensive academic experience, having held various leadership positions in Australian universities throughout her career, including at the University of Queensland and Griffith University.

She attained a first class honours degree in Economics and a PhD from the University of Sydney. In 1988, she was a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow spending time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, and the University of California, Berkeley. In 2018, she was elected a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Professor Gardner is Chair of Universities Australia and a Director of the Group of Eight Universities. She is also a Director of Infrastructure Victoria and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).

Professor Gardner has previously been chair of Museum Victoria and chaired the Strategic Advisory Committee and the Expert Panel of the Office of Learning and Teaching (Federal Government Department of Education and Training). She has also been a member of various other boards and committees, including the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, the ANZAC Centenary Advisory Board and the International Education Advisory Committee, which led to the Chaney Report.

In 2007, Professor Gardner was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to tertiary education, particularly in the areas of university governance and gender equity, and to industrial relations in Queensland.

Here, the only counterpoint that I could find to her powerful and masterly delivered address is that — if I understood well — only universities can deliver the educational output for the future. She is right. But rogue elements like Gus (who thinks he has thick ankles) tend to believe that they — in their own mind — can push the boundaries of knowledge beyond the structure of universities, of governments and of Sunday barbecues. Can't wait for the transcripts (if available) to share this master at work, in front of stoned mullets. 


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12.30pm Wed 27 February 2019

The histories of the land and its people are written into this country.

Canberra – or Kambri, in the languages of our country’s longer past – has been a meeting place since

deep time.

The traditional owners, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples of this region, carry these traditions still.

In his book Dark Emu, Yuin historian Bruce Pascoe recounts the great gatherings of people in the

Australian Alps during the summer months of plenty that made this region a hub of important shared

cultural knowledge.

So I begin by acknowledging this rich tradition of scholarship, custodianship, and the teaching of

knowledge, in the traditions of this country.

I pay my respects to your Elders, past and present – knowledge keepers of this place - and thank you for a

warm and generous welcome to country.


Each morning, millions of Australians stir from sleep and reach for their smartphones.

Over the next few minutes and hours, we make sense of the day’s events.

Threaded through online feeds, physical newspapers, radio, and TV runs the informed analysis of

Australian university scholars and researchers.

Their expertise helps us delve more comprehensively into the who, what, when, where, why and how of

events in our world.

By the time you’re on your second cup of coffee for the day – which, incidentally, university research says is probably good for you - chances are you’ve already heard from at least half a dozen university experts.

In the past fortnight alone, there are numerous examples.

James Cook University economist Riccardo Welters spoke about maximising Townsville’s economic recovery in the wake of this month’s devastating floods.


University of Western Australia Indigenous Health Professor Patricia Dudgeon talked about combating the national emergency of Indigenous child suicide as the WA coroner handed down her report into the deaths of 13 Aboriginal children in recent years.

And as the nation marked the tenth anniversary of the devastating Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, in which 173 people lost their lives,University of Wollongong bushfire researcher Dr Josh Whittaker and his colleagues told how research led to a change in the official advice – which is now to evacuate early on days of catastrophic fire risk.

Your ability to surf the news online is something of a credit to universities.

For universities were pioneers in the establishment of the internet in Australia.

It’s a story not told often enough.

Australia’s university leaders came together in the 1980s, as the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee – to build the national backbone of networked computing in collaboration with the CSIRO.

And so, the not-for-profit AARNET - Australia’s Academic and Research Network - was born; the founding architect, builder and operator of world-class high-speed internet infrastructure in our country.


If you will, university researchers are our public ‘brains trust’.

And this role is highly valued by Australians.

Just this month, respected public opinion trackers at JWS Research asked Australians who they trust to ensure facts and evidence are part of important public debates.

Is it doctors and medical professionals? Business leaders? Politicians? Church leaders? Union officials? Or perhaps – in this venue – journalists?


Rather, it is university researchers, scientists and experts who command most trust.

Eighteen times as many Australians said university experts were their single most trusted source of facts and evidence in public debates, as those who nominated politicians.

That’s particularly significant in an era when our collective trust in almost everyone and everything has been so heavily battered.

Australians respect university expertise.

That is heartening news for every researcher working hard to advance knowledge, to unravel the mysteries of human life and the universe, and to transform lives through their work.


Late last year, Universities Australia launched a powerful new video series to bring research stories to wider public attention.

Domestic violence survivor Helen, stroke survivor Kevin and cervical cancer survivor Lisa met Australian university researchers whose work has changed their lives – or the lives of people just like them.

I’m told Helen is watching this live broadcast today – so thank you again for being part of an important awareness campaign.

We brought Helen together with Associate Professor Becky Batagol, who worked on the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Her work led politicians to streamline the court process for women and children fleeing family violence.

Instead of having to navigate two separate court processes with a violent ex-partner, and the trauma of two complex sets of legal proceedings, this work promises to make women and children safer.

In her video, Helen told us, unprompted:

“I think university research is absolutely critical.”

“It shines a light that demonstrates the need for change.”

“We were the clever country – we need to continue being the clever country.”

Thank you, Helen, for this powerful reminder.

The stories of Australians like Helen and Lisa and Kevin – whose health and future rely on university research breakthroughs – speak to trust, to respect and to impact.

They explain why Australians strongly oppose the cuts to university research funding made last December.

JWS Research found a strong majority of Australians do not support the cuts to university research funding.

They fear – rightly – such cuts will mean fewer university researchers able to work on life-changing breakthroughs.

This decision also harms our nation’s pipeline of future research talent.

Up to 500 fewer PhD scholarships will be funded this year alone. How will the next generation of brilliant researchers find their way to contribute?

This is a direct threat to our country’s future clever capabilities.

As President of Harvard Drew Gilpin Faust said in 2010, lamenting cuts to higher education funding elsewhere:

“We are caught in the paradox of celebrating the global knowledge economy and simultaneously undermining its foundations.”


University education and research are also crucial to the health of democracies and nations

When Nobel laureate and Professor of Economics Joseph Stiglitz graced this stage last November, he made a powerful and related point.

The growth in the wealth of nations over the past two and a half centuries, he argued, was largely due to advances in two broad fields.

The first was science and technology, and the second, social organisation – the rule of law, and the development of democracies with sophisticated systems of checks and balances.

But, warned Stiglitz, “this requires systems of truth telling, of ascertaining, of discovering what the truth is, verifying the truth”.

He feared that demagogue dictators around the globe are systematically trying to destroy truth-telling institutions – the independent media, the judiciary, and universities.

For expertise grounds us in what is known, proven and verifiable. It helps us decipher complex information.


This is true for whole societies, and for individual students.

A great university education imparts not just the foundational knowledge and skills particular to a chosen discipline or profession, but a broader and more profound set of skills for life.

Logic. Reasoning. Curiosity. Creativity.

The skills to analyse, decipher and interpret.

An ability to develop cogent arguments, build evidence, and to test and verify information.

In short, the skills of clear thinking for a clever nation.

As the automatable and the autonomous take over more of the routine tasks within our jobs, humans will need new roles in employment and work.

Work that requires higher order skills of thinking, insatiable curiosity, creativity and an ability to read other human beings.

Precisely the skills a great university education fosters.

Such education is informed by robust research and scholarship. Universities are unique educational institutions because of this nexus.

Research-informed teaching places students on the frontiers of new knowledge. It is not a question of parsing established texts. Along with their teachers, they confront the new.

How else can we understand the unpredictable now – and confront the more unknowable future?

This is why we need our universities in Australia – great universities.


And it is why public policy matters for the future shape and condition of our Australian universities.

Policy matters for everyone who needs a post-school education.

Policy shapes the path of our careers and lives.

And policy matters to how well our universities can contribute to our economic and civic future.

In a curious way, the many policy reviews announced in recent times are a recognition that policy matters: enquiries into the Australian qualifications framework, the categories for higher education providers, performance funding, Defence Trade Controls, research and innovation funding. The list is long.

All these enquiries seek to define or refine the operations of the contemporary university.

They matter not only for their immediate subjects, but also for how they affect what a university can and should be.

The late Clark Kerr, a President (and architect) of the University of California system, outlined the impact of the teaching and research university as we have come to know it.

He noted in “The Uses of the University” – “the university’s invisible product, knowledge, may be the most powerful single element in our culture” (2001:xii) because new knowledge was and is the most important engine for economic and social growth.

Kerr’s statement “…the university has become a prime instrument of national purpose…” (2001:66) is based in lived experience.

As Connell notes in “The Good University” – “the modern teaching-and-research university has, in a sense, conquered the world” (2019:7).

And while there are many different types of university and university systems, the Australian university system is defined and dominated by the teaching-and-research university.

In Australia, the title “university’ is legislatively tied to this nexus of research and teaching. As Glyn Davis argues in “The Australian Idea of a University” (2017), our universities cleave to a handful of defining features, some common and others with an Antipodean twist.

Ours are: public institutions; self-governing; focussed on professional courses; meritocratic; and strongly tied by local students to their community.

Australian universities exhibit the universalism (and the internationalism) that is the core of a university, but are also, generally, large (by international standards), comprehensive, secular, and, in the domestic sense, city or community based institutions.

So, while changes of policy may affect our universities differentially, even small changes have consequences across the system.

Policy matters a great deal for all Australia’s universities.


It is important those writing and reviewing policy understand what is at stake.

In complex sectors such as higher education, policy debates may appear arcane: arguments about detailed rules may seem of limited interest to others.

Yet the currents of policy debate buffet our universities.

There is more at stake than funding or culture wars.

The soul and purpose of a university is in the balance.

Good policy allows the system to flourish for the benefit of all.

Poor policy choices constrain the benefits and have the potential to diminish the essence of university life – the creation and dissemination of new knowledge.


At the heart of the university, and its impact, is student access and a student’s potential for success.

Universities change lives for the better. Often profoundly so.

So many Australians have triumphed over the odds just to get into university. The results enrich their lives, and their family’s lives, forever.

That’s why we continue to highlight the opportunity cost – and the cost to opportunity – of university funding cuts.

In late 2017, another $2.1 billion of cuts were made to funding for student places at Australia’s universities.

Again, the public strongly opposes these cuts.

Two-thirds of Australians believe that cutting funds for student places at universities is the wrong decision for Australia’s future.

Many Australians worry deeply and rightly such cuts are profoundly unfair to Australians from disadvantaged backgrounds, from regional Australia, and to future students.

A little over a decade ago, Professor Denise Bradley, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Australia, led a major review for the Australian Government.

It argued the nation should set a goal for university attainment - for two reasons.

First was to match university attainment levels to the needs of our future labour market given the growing demand for skilled graduates.

And second was to ensure equity in higher education for Australians of all backgrounds.

Australia adopted a national target: we would strive for 40 per cent of Australians aged 25 to 34 to have a university education.

We have made big gains on both equity and attainment over the past decade.

But some regions and parts of Australia still lag.

Only 28 per cent of young Queenslanders – those aged 25 to 34 – had a university degree by 2016.

In Tasmania, it was 24.5 per cent.

In South Australia, and in Western Australia, it was just over 30 per cent.

Within States, opportunity is also uneven.

In Melbourne, university attainment is around 45 per cent – in Mildura, it is just 17.3%.

This is a powerful reminder of why we must restore the demand-driven system of uncapped student places at our universities across the nation, to help close these gaps in opportunity.

And we need to support our students better during difficult years of study.

The Universities Australia Student Finances Survey last August found the median annual income for full-time domestic undergraduate students is well below the poverty line at $18,300.

One in seven university students say they regularly go without food and other necessities because they cannot afford them, with students from poorer backgrounds, Indigenous and regional students worst affected.

Such students need greater support to pay the bills while studying.

This is a task not only for universities, but for our whole community. It is a funding and policy challenge.

We must make opportunity real for all the Australians who will need a university education for our future.




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I could not find this transcript as it had been filed by the university under the wrong date (last year)


Speeches & articles by Vice-Chancellor | Monash University
View the transcript ... 28 February, 2018 - Address to the National Press Club ... the President and Vice-Chancellor of Monash, Professor Margaret Gardner AO.

honouring a formidable mind...




Olga Aleksandrovna Ladyzhenskaya (Russian: Óльга Алекса́ндровна Лады́женская, IPA: [ˈolʲɡə ɐlʲɪˈksandrəvnə ɫɐˈdɨʐɨnskəɪ̯ə] (About this soundlisten)) (7 March 1922 – 12 January 2004) was a  Russian  mathematician. She was known for her work on partial differential equations (especially Hilbert's 19th problem) and fluid dynamics.[1] She provided the first rigorous proofs of the convergence of a finite difference method for the Navier–Stokes equations. She was a student of Ivan Petrovsky.[2] She was awarded the Lomonosov Gold Medal in 2002.


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a university whistleblower ...

A university academic who spoke out about international student admission standards and welfare is being counter-sued for damages by his employer after appearing on a Four Corners program.

Key points:
  • A Four Corners investigation found Murdoch University was one of a number of Australian universities admitting international students below its own published English standards
  • Dr Gerd Schroder-Turk appeared in the program and has commenced legal action against the university under the Fair Work Act
  • Murdoch University has filed a cross-claim law suit seeking damages for money lost since he spoke publicly


Federal Court documents reveal Murdoch University in Western Australia is seeking compensation from Associate Professor Gerd Schroder-Turk, claiming it has lost millions of dollars in revenue due to a reduction in international student numbers since the program aired.

Dr Schroder-Turk was one of three Murdoch academics who told a Four Corners investigation in May that they were concerned for the welfare of a group of Indian students who were failing courses in higher than normal numbers.

Four Corners found Murdoch University was one of a number of Australian universities admitting international students below its own published English standards, or through other means without taking an independent English test.

Dr Schroder-Turk, who also sits on the university's senate, commenced legal action in the Federal Court under the Fair Work Act, seeking compensation and an injunction to stop the university taking disciplinary action against him.


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student exploitation...

Murdoch University has dropped plans to sue a lecturer who spoke out about student exploitation, in news welcomed by the whistleblower, his lawyers and the tertiary education union.

Murdoch prompted outrage among academics, in Australia and globally, when it decided to sue the mathematics lecturer Gerd Schröder-Turk for speaking to the ABC’s Four Corners about the treatment of international students.

Schröder-Turk said the university was accepting students who were below its English standards, effectively exploiting them in pursuit of revenue and jeopardising academic integrity and student welfare.

He later said Murdoch University had taken reprisal action against him by seeking to remove him from the university’s senate. He challenged his treatment in the federal court and, in response, the university countersued him for damaging its reputation.

The Perth university’s actions prompted criticism in October from more than 50 of Australia’s most distinguished professors, who said it posed a grave risk to academic freedom and set a “dangerous precedent”. Their warning followed a previous open letter from 23 academics across the globe protesting against Schröder-Turk’s treatment, sent in May.

On Monday, Murdoch University said it was dropping the financial component of its counter-claim. Schröder-Turk welcomed the news in a statement issued by his lawyers.

“The counter-claim by the university has caused me and my young family a great deal of unnecessary stress,” he said. “I have always acted in the best interest of the university, its students and its staff, and have done so in very difficult circumstances.”

He said his concerns about student welfare remained.

The National Tertiary Education Union said the university must now also drop the remainder of its lawsuit against the whistleblower and stop attempts to remove him from the university senate. Its general secretary, Matthew McGowan, said the university’s tactics were designed to intimidate.

“It was patently absurd to think that a university would sue a staff member for millions of dollars in damages,” McGowan said. “Murdoch has rightly received international condemnation for its action, and it’s pleasing to see that the university is finally seeing some sense on this issue.

“But we still fundamentally disagree with Murdoch management about what is the real essence of this matter. This is about academic freedom – the right of a staff member to speak openly about issues and concerns about their institution without fear or favour – and if Murdoch management cannot understand this then they shouldn’t be running a university.”


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where's gough?

Some commentators argue smaller universities should concentrate their research into specific specialist areas, such as marine science at James Cook University or Antarctic research at the University of Tasmania, and increase their focus on teaching.

But Catriona Jackson, from Universities Australia, which represents the whole sector and is lobbying for funds, said "the middle of a recession is probably not the optimum time to be doing a root and branch review of the way education works in Australia."

Regional Universities Network's executive director Caroline Perkins said her members would be concerned about any attempt to curtail their research.

"To take our research funding will do nothing for the Group of Eight, and it will really hurt regional universities," she said.

However, Peter Shergold, Chancellor of Western Sydney University, said he suspected "each university going forward in Australia will start to develop its own particular strengths it will take forward."

The head of one Go8 member, Sydney University vice-chancellor Michael Spence, said it would be "all over red rover" for his research budget under the present system if significant numbers of international students could not return for semester one next year.

Asked when he would need to make difficult decisions on research, Dr Spence said the university could "ride out" the $470 million hole in its budget this year.

But if international students could not return for first semester 2021, "it's all over red rover and it gets really ugly," he said. "We are optimistic, and we are optimistic because applications are up.


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Gough Whitlam would make sure Universities were fully sustained by the Federal Government BECAUSE UNIVERSITIES ARE essential to the future of thinking, of manufacturing and of social integrity. It's time for the ScoMo's brains to bite the bullet and fully finance "HIGH LEARNING" in a new world where knowing our relativistic and quantum place in the universe is far more important than telling legendary fibs about Noah's Ark in a happy-clappy delusional church on the hill.

pub yes, protests no: NSW police crack down on dissent...

by Josh Lees

31 July 2020

I have just been arrested, along with one other, and fined $1,000 for attending a small protest organised by the University of Sydney Education Action Group against looming job cuts. Sydney Uni, like many other universities, has already cut significant numbers of casual staff, and is now set to announce cuts to its permanent workforce. The University’s Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence has refused to give up a cent of his $1.5 million salary, yet for staff it’s the scrap heap.

What’s the real crime here? According to the NSW government and police, it’s not people’s jobs being threatened in the midst of a devastating health and economic crisis, but rather the fact that 21 people, wearing masks and standing several metres away from each other in a large outdoor area, gathered to defend them.

Protesting, the government and police claim, poses a threat to public health. This, however, has no basis in science. Evidence shows that outdoor activities, where participants wear masks, are among the safest things you can do. The coronavirus is overwhelmingly being spread indoors – in workplaces, restaurants, bars and the like.

As I wrote in Red Flag just a few days ago in relation to a Black Lives Matter protest that was broken up by police on Tuesday: “Not a single case of coronavirus spread has been linked to protests. Meanwhile, the virus is spreading in NSW, through restaurants, pubs and churches – and the government is doing nothing to stop it. Three hundred people are allowed to pack into a pub, a restaurant or a casino in NSW, while no workplaces or schools are closed, and thousands can go to shopping malls or the footy.”

When it comes to activities that benefit business, and which pose a much higher risk than protesting, the government is ignoring health advice and refusing to re-introduce any serious social distancing measures. In an interview on the ABC in mid-July, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian went so far as to declare that “what we need to do is find a way in which we can coexist with the virus.”

I argued then that “the less they do to actually combat the coronavirus, the more they need to whip up lies, blame the actions of individuals, and crack down hard on protests, to divert blame for their deliberate policies of death, and to appear as though they are taking action.”

Today’s arrests show the police intend to use their powers to ban all protests in NSW for the foreseeable future. Without any public announcement or warning to the protest organisers, they apparently decided to interpret the NSW government’s health orders to mean that a gathering of just 21 people, even if they are standing metres apart in an outdoor area, is illegal if those people are there for the “common purpose” of protesting.

This, we should be clear, has nothing to do with health advice or concern about the virus, and everything to do with suppressing protest. A hundred people sitting in separate groups in a park for the “common purpose” of having a picnic will not be fined. On weekends I gather with more than 21 people for the “common purpose” of playing football. No social distancing or masks are required. Currently, in NSW, up to 500 people are allowed to gather for such purposes.

The officer who arrested me today was Sergeant Strawbridge. He has long been a member of the NSW public order and riot squad – the squad that exists to pick fights with drunk people, harass people of colour, and rough up people who protest for workers’ rights, against racism or for the environment. They seem to love their work, and are notorious for being very friendly with the far-right, while hating anyone to the left of Genghis Khan. Strawbridge and his fellow plods love acknowledging protest organisers by name and dropping in details of your personal life, just to let you know they really are that creepy, and are watching you. With cops like these in charge of policing coronavirus restrictions, it’s no wonder all kinds of abuses are taking place.


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Thousands of people in the German capital Berlin have taken part in a protest against the country's coronavirus restrictions.

Demonstrators said measures including the wearing of facemasks violated their rights and freedoms.

Police broke up the protest, saying organisers had not respected coronavirus hygiene regulations.

Germany has been less badly affected by the pandemic than some European countries, but cases are rising.

On Friday it recorded more than 900 new cases and seven deaths.

What happened at the protest?

Officials say about 20,000 people attended the Berlin protest on Saturday.

Organisers had declared it a "day of freedom" from months of coronavirus restrictions.

Demonstrators held up banners featuring such slogans as "Corona, false alarm" and "We are being forced to wear a muzzle".

The BBC's Damien McGuinness said some participants were from the far right and some were conspiracy theorists who do not believe Covid-19 exists, but others were ordinary people who simply object to the government's approach to the pandemic.


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public rescue for private school wilting lawns...


GroundsKeepers not cheap

Our universities have consistently been denied access to the JobKeeper payment, whereas elite private schools have been accessing the payment to offset revenue losses (‘‘Most expensive private schools qualify for JobKeeper’’, July 26). Can the ideological disconnect between these two positions of the government be more profound?

Scott Morrison, and most of his colleagues on the Treasury benches, have benefited from a university education, but some sections of his party seem to want to wage a war on what they perceive as a hotbed of leftist, liberal thinking. I cannot see any benefit to Australia of singling out universities for punishment.

Dale Bailey, Five Dock

The government is funding many private schools with JobKeeper payments because they meet required conditions, but not universities desperate for funds, forced to fire staff. Prime Minister: why is this OK? How can it be OK to undermine institutions asked to ensure students, many young, have hope, skills and futures? Please make it OK for them, and our country.

Jennifer Fergus, Manly

Private schools get all the breaks, no matter how large their incomes. If even the wealthiest of them are considered as charitable institutions for the purposes of avoiding council rates on their large land holdings, why would a drop in profits from international students and boarders then qualify them – now as regular businesses – for JobKeeper? It seems our private schools enjoy chameleon colours when it comes to categorisation, to exploit all benefits on offer.

Alex Mattea, Sydney


Read more: SMH (Sydney Morning Herald, 2/8/2020)



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 open letter from john keane


Open letter from John Keane about ‘foreign interference’ at Sydney University.


By John Keane Apr 27, 2021 

Dear Colleagues and Friends,


Many of you will have spotted recent media reports that our University, the University of Sydney, contracted the chartered accountancy firm McGrathNicol Advisory, to provide an external audit of the patterns of foreign interference in the workings of our institution.


Last week, I wrote to the Vice-Chancellor to seek clarification of the contract and its potentially far-reaching implications. I have received no reply.


These reports appear to be accurate, and it is therefore understandable that colleagues have begun to express surprise at the arrangement. McGrathNichol is after all a business. Its advertisements say that it aims to help other businesses deliver value and achieve their market goals. We are by contrast a university with a special history, a working culture of teaching and research, and an ethos of worldly wonder, global vision and public service commitment. And there is the point that our administration, for some time, has been pressuring us to be frugal – mindful of our budgetary burdens and challenges.


Obvious questions arise: did our University administration teams pay attention to the potential incongruity of our University working with a for-profit chartered accountancy firm? And since external audits never come cheap, what exactly was the agreed cost of this exercise to our institution?


There are further concerns. The lead consultant who reportedly headed up this investigation is John Garnaut. He is advertised as an expert who provides multinational corporations, government agencies, hedge funds and other bodies with foreign interference and espionage risk reviews. Whether or to what extent Mr Garnaut is familiar with the specifics of university life remains unclear


The publicly available evidence suggests that the former journalist and short-stretch Turnbull government adviser has no track record of involvement in university research projects. He has not published scholarly works; and he appears to have no special familiarity with the complex workings of the university sector. He does have a personal preoccupation with one country in particular – the People’s Republic of China. And details of his work are known to our University staff and students because of his implication in a Federal Court of Australia defamation case launched successfully by Dr Chau Chak Wing against a 2015 article written by Mr Garnaut – a defamatory piece, Justice Michael Wigney noted in his concluding judgment, that had used “sensationalist, hyperbolic and generally derisive language” and had failed to distinguish “suspicions, allegations and proven facts”.


Such details are prompting colleagues to ask additional questions: from the outset, when the contract with the chartered accountancy firm was signed, what type of foreign interference and espionage did our University administration suppose we are facing? And since we are engaged in a vast range of external activities and links, was the scope of the McGrathNichol audit truly global? Or was it implicitly confined, along the lines of the federal government’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (2018), to just a few countries, or one country? Perhaps the United States? Or is it the People’s Republic of China?


The recent media reports included a brief general statement about ‘risks’ by an unnamed spokesman of our University, but our University administration has so far not formally confirmed the terms and conditions of the audit. Silence reigns. But a quiet rollout of the audit recommendations has begun, most notably for our higher degree research students, who are now being required to complete a formal ‘Declaration of External Interests’.


The declaration of ‘actual, potential or perceived conflict of interests’ document reads as if it were a badly written script for an absurdist theatre production. Prefaced by a ‘Privacy Statement’, it asks our students to list any and every external institutional link that is “broadly relevant” to the “conduct or reporting” of their research. It also requires them to detail the “personal relationships” that affect their “candidature or progression”. The stated criteria include “family members, close friends, de facto partner, sexual partner, ex-partner, financial dependent, or business partner.”


Family members, friends, partners past and present: all of us, academic staff and students alike, are engaged in teaching, research and public outreach activities that potentially fall foul of this ill-conceived, poorly-timed and politically mischievous audit. No student, teacher or researcher, whether in the fields of physics, engineering, information technology, architecture, musicology, health science, communications, history or sociology, will escape its clutches.

We should all be concerned about its shadowy aims and methods, the limitless scope of its brief, and potentially divisive and damaging effects on the inner spirit, working practices and public reputation of our fine institution. That’s why consideration must urgently be given to its stoppage, scrapping or boycotting. We should be calling on our current and future Vice-Chancellor to explain and clarify the whole matter. For an audit, as our Latin teachers taught us, should properly be an open hearing, a matter of public accountability, not an exercise in administrative surveillance and control.


Best wishes,


John Keane


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