Arts cuts at Macquarie Uni. After flagging cuts to the science faculty at the University of Melbourne yesterday, a Macquarie University insider says the same is happening in science and arts in Sydney. They write:

“The arts budget has been progressively cut (in real and absolute terms) over the last five years (2009: $44 million; 2010: $42 million; 2011: $38 million; expected 2012: $35 million). Science is suffering its second annual cut in a row of over 5%. Tutorials and courses are being cut, there are proposals to abolish or merge various departments (despite having almost no discipline-based commonalities) and staff will be sacked, even from departments with high student-staff ratios.

“In arts, there will be no tutorials in ancient history next year and other departments are moving to fortnightly tutorials or ‘lectorials’ of 150 students! This is despite the VC’s assurance that ‘savings’ will be spent on learning and teaching. But only 30% of revenues (most of which comes from students) returns to the faculties that provide the research and teaching. Some serious questions need to be asked about how much the Macquarie University Hospital will drain from the university’s surplus (ie: the money earned by overworking the staff) this year (last year it was a $31 million ‘loan’, the repayment of which is doubtful according to the NSW Auditor-General).”

Orica needs lesson in media management. The poor media performance of Orica over the Newcastle spill is no surprise to those that work there, according to our insider:

“I’ve worked closely with Orica for some time and it is no surprise to those that work in and around this industry that things have got as bad as they have at their Newcastle plant considering. Management is well-known for not having an interest in the softer issues (PR/communication) — they’ve dumbed down the public affairs department for years and committed the cardinal sin of adding comms function to human resources. The company is lazy at the top and this permeates throughout. The board are all old school and cashing in as long as they can.”

AEC gears up for … something. We just can’t get enough of (probably ridiculous) election speculation. From the 3AW Rumour File this morning: “Caller Ready Set Go says the Australian Electoral Commission is starting to ring around to see if former employees are available for an ‘upcoming event’.”

More Qld election speculation. And in Queensland, where one tipster (probably incorrectly) speculated yesterday on a December 17 state poll, comes this from another deep-throat: “If Bligh is to call an election this year she has to do it by midnight tonight according to those who know.” Get ready.

ABC Adelaide radio shuffle. More speculation at ABC Local Radio from Adelaide, where Carole Whitelock is stepping back from the microphone after three decades. ABC Riverland presenter Deb Tribe is apparently in the frame, and don’t rule out former Democrat Natasha Stott-Despoja who has filled in ably for Whitelock this year.

Huh? News submission needs a good sub. News Limited’s submission to the media inquiry — which has just been posted on the website — is not exactly a testimonial for the editorial standards at Australia’s biggest media company. One media watcher spotted these gems:

“The test of a media outlets’ relevance is in fact a test each outlet must pass every day because consumers can and do decide with great frequency what media they will consume.” (page 1)

“A newspapers role is to assist its readers to be informed about a range of views so they are in a position to decide for themselves what the political “truth” is or what opinions they may agree or disagree with.” (page 9)

“According to someone’s views be it from government or a regulator, it would be determined that one person’s views are qualified to be expressed and someone else’s are not.” (page 11)

“Strengthening the Councils insistence on due prominence for publication of adjudications and apologies, corrections or other remedial action.” (page 15)

“We believe incentives to ensure newer media companies, particularly online publishers, to bring themselves under the regime of the Council can be effectively achieved by the Council and it members promoting the role of the Council.” (page 16)

“Importantly, if a media company does chose to walk away, it must take the risk of paying the price of being viewed by its audience as not having the integrity to be subject to an independent arbiter of its standards.” (page 17)

“We do not support a system where the guidelines of the industry are enforced by a statutory body. This could only work by giving it powers to someone which impinge freedom of the press.” (page 19)

“The Government already addresses these needs through funding in excess of $1 billion per annum for the national broadcasters, both in radio and television, which have there own digital and online platforms. (page 22)

And there is no source for this amazing assertion:

“The vast majority of Australians now consume media from at least 50 — and perhaps more than 100 -‐ different news and information sources each day, thus rendering concerns about a lack of diversity redundant.” (page 1)

What’s wrong with generic milk? “Has anyone else noticed the generic brand milk has changed in recent weeks?” Well, no, we hadn’t. Tell us more. “We used to buy Coles and Woolies cheap milk but have noticed it taste differently (thicker, more powdery). We have gone back to branded milk for better taste.” Right then. Anyone?

Peter Fray

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