He who pays the piper calls the tune. Or to put it in Australian educational terms, he who funds the universities calls the tune.

When Brendan Nelson got a complaint from a constituent about the absence of right-wing views in a reading list for a history subject at Macquarie University, the Minister (for Defence, not Education) passed the complaint on to the University’s vice-chancellor Steven Schwartz with an added handwritten ministerial note: “I am very concerned about this and I would appreciate your personal attention to these issues, which I find disturbing.”

Over at The University of Melbourne meanwhile, the tune has a similiar sound. There, the piper — Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis — has been instructed by the government to remove three books on terrorism from the university library. To which the piper has replied that removing the books restricted legitimate research.

Legitimate research? What does that have to do with the government’s tune?

Peter Fray

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