“Why don’t you all just f— off”. Sooner or later any antipodean will get this, usually in the pub from someone in their cups just before last orders. You can see their point. Not only are Australians everywhere in London, but we seem to be running the joint. Or, to be more precise, doing all the dirty work. From Murdoch down, we seem to be the ones charged with giving Brits the bad news.

Patricia Hewitt, daughter of famed civil servant Sir Lenox, is lucky enough to be secretary for health at a time when Mr Tony has his heart set on introducing US-style (!) market principles to health delivery.

Sir Rod Eddington, has just delivered his report on the almost oxymoronic “future of transport” in Britain, advertising road pricing, ie electronic tolls, and no substantial investment in public transport infrastructure. The key feature of the report from this former Ansett and BA head? No limits on new airports, surprise surprise.

But it was one of our Kiwi cousins, John Hood, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, who just got rolled by its 3,000-strong parliament of academics. Hood’s the first non-Oxford appointment in 900 years, and he was brought in to basically kick head, and remove control of finance from the dons themselves.

He might win on the 4,000 postal votes still to come in, but it doesn’t look like it – especially as his main supporter, coming out of the radio like some bad dream at six in the morning was none other than Alan Gilbert, current V-C of Manchester University, who is hopefully not going to repeat his $100m+ Melbourne University Private debacle among the dreaming smokestacks.

Antipodeans everywhere, a tribute to our skills and resolve? Or the process by which we were founded now working in reverse? Or … the old Mafia principle that you always bring your hired killers in from out of town?

Peter Fray

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