How Hugo Kelly can assert that I am parroting the same “Establishment
position” as John McDonald in relation to the National Art School is beyond me.

If he had read what I had written he would have noticed that on two
occasions I made it absolutely clear I was not standing in the same corner as

I questioned McDonald’s support for a merger of the NAS with Macquarie
University and I acknowledged that it would have been reasonable to criticise
McDonald if, in fact, he hadn’t declared a conflict of interest in his Sydney Morning Herald
article about his teaching role at the NAS.

In yesterday’s Crikey, Mr Kelly referred readers to a debate about the NAS on
the Art Life blog (the name of which he got wrong). In reference to postings on
the Art Life site, Kelly asserted “the locals are damning of the Establishment view parroted by Stephen
Feneley and John McDonald.”

Well, I invite Crikey readers to check out the blog for themselves and they
will discover all manner of views and comments, including one posting that goes
into some detail questioning whether McDonald had a conflict of interest,
claiming that he’d only worked as an occasional guest lecturer and wasn’t
engaged by the school at the time of writing.

I don’t know what the truth is but
it’s certainly not as Kelly portrays it. As for me parroting an “Establishment position,” considering I haven’t
spoken to anyone about this since Kelly blundered into print, I am not sure
what the Establishment position is or whether such a position even exists.

My concern was and is that Kelly, without a shred of supporting
evidence, sledged the teaching staff of the NAS, inferring they were incompetent
and lazy and driven by self interest. I know them to be extremely professional and
dedicated. Also, while I made it clear in my first dispatch that I wasn’t an
unqualified supporter of the NAS, I stated I that believed it was worth keeping
as a separate entity for the sake of diversity.

That is my own opinion based on
my first-hand observations of the NAS going back 12 years or more. I am not
parroting anyone’s position. I will leave that to Kelly and his anonymous
correspondent, who managed to pass muster on Crikey’s new anonymity guidelines
without adding anything of substance to the debate.