Today’s newspapers carry resounding applause for the report on family law conducted by Des Semple which recommends the dismantling of the Federal Magistrates’ Court and the establishment of a one-stop shop for family law matters. Des who? Those with long political memories will recall that Semple was appointed director-general of the NSW Department of Community Services by the Fahey Government in the early 1990s. When Labor came to power in 1995 the skids were placed under him and he was re-graded/demoted/removed, leading to a six-month inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). In the event, the commission found that his downfall was not as a result of any act of political corruption which came as a huge relief to Premier Bob Carr.

What was sacked Age editor Andrew Jaspan doing at Carlton’s Jimmy Watson’s Wine Bar between 5.30 and 7.30 last night (he looked like he’d arrived earlier) and who was the tall skinny man dominating the hard-sell conversation?

Melbourne University has been turning the Melbourne Conservatorium into a theoretical (as opposed to performance) institute for some time; the issue is about theory vs practice, and of course funding. Warren Bebbington was head of music and is now Deputy Vice Chancellor. The same thing has happened in the visual arts; the once great teaching school that came out of the National Gallery, that gave us a major tradition of Visual Artists, has all but disappeared into theory.

Peter Fray

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