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Mar 15, 2013

How do you beat Kevin Rudd? LNP farms out campaign to kids

Kevin Rudd's opponent for the seat of Griffith at the next election has roped in outside help for his campaign. He's asking students from QUT's Business School to help him attract more younger voters.


Universities are supposedly hot beds of radicalism stuffed with pampered left-wing academia. But one Queensland university is working hard to bring down Kevin Rudd.

At the Queensland University of Technology’s Business School, students are developing a campaign to encourage young voters to support the Liberal-National Party’s candidate for Griffith, Bill Glasson. It’s all part of their course assessment.

“It smelled fishy but I figured that our work would not be shared with the client and it was simply a real-life example,” wrote student “Anidav” on an Australian politics forum.

That is until Glasson appeared at the lecture to discuss Rudd’s weaknesses and how students could best frame his campaign. An opthamologist and former president of the Australian Medical Association, it’s Glasson first run at politics.

According to Anidav, Glasson told the class the “the leadership quarrels of the Labor Party doesn’t connect well with young people” and instead Glasson was interested in how to best portray the former foreign minister as a “Big Fish in a Small Pond” who flies off to international events and ignores his electorate:

“His Young Liberal helpers also handed out pamphlets and gave talks about how the LNP uses social networking. This made it seem like we were more involved in the campaign, almost too close. So then our lecture ended with: ‘assignments I think are the best I will pass onto our client.'”

It’s understood students can choose if they’d like their campaign plan to be handed over to the LNP.

A spokesperson for Rudd says they received an email from a QUT student about the subject but have had no contact from QUT. The spokesperson wanted to learn more about the subject before commenting — but thought students should be able to hand in campaign material for either the LNP or Labor.

“University students are involved in political clubs and politics day-to-day. But I would have thought, as part of the curriculum, that it would strive for a balance,” they told Crikey.

Perhaps, Rudd’s office suggested, students should be asked how they feel about not getting the NBN: “I’d be interested to see what the student population’s reaction to that would be.”

Last month, as Crikey first revealed, Glasson backflipped on his support for the NBN after years of publicly encouraging the policy and working as one of the NBN’s “broadband champions”. Glasson’s office is yet to respond to Crikey‘s calls; we’ll update once they have.

Rudd currently holds Griffith with a sizeable 8.4% margin. But with the projected swings against Labor, students may hold out hope of getting Glasson over the line.

UPDATE: 2.25pm

The executive dean of the QUT Business School, Professor Robina Xavier, has just sent this response to Crikey:

“QUT’s Business School links its students with representatives from a broad range of industries to ensure student coursework is relevant in the ‘real world’.

“Once in the workforce advertising professionals can expect to work for a vast range of clients, some of whose philosophies, products and services they will be supportive of and some they will not.

“The completion of an assignment for third-year advertising students is an exercise in channel planning, not in politics, and will not involve the development of creative content.

“As is always the case with this type of coursework, the best assignments are offered to the “client” but only with the approval of the students concerned.”


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29 thoughts on “How do you beat Kevin Rudd? LNP farms out campaign to kids

  1. Rhys Bevilaqua

    I would actually wonder if there isn’t a policy forbidding this kind of political activity in the university’s courses, I know at our university there were strict rules about campus elections regarding where and when this could be brought into the lecture halls. I can’t imagine that those policies were not written to encompass all political activity.

  2. scot mcphee

    This is absolutely outrageous! What has it got to with a “business” school?

    Not only that, is this not an political donation, that must be declared? It’s number of students x HECS fees ea. at minimum.

    This proves that QUT is an absolute mickey mouse institution and that business schools in general are not a valid part of a universities’ curricula!

  3. NiceLittleUnit

    Is his name Gleeson or Glasson?

  4. Gavin Moodie

    I don’t think it is appropriate to judge QUT until we have its side of the story. Why didn’t the reporter report QUT’s position?

  5. zut alors

    This is rare: a scam Qld conservatives have never tried before, even in the Sir Joh years.

    Under Soup Newman they’re becoming surprisingly creative.

    As long as the students realise that under Glasson’s party it will always take longer to upload/download their usual inanities on social media.

  6. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    Wow, talk aobut going to long lenghs for free Labour (lol).

    Surely, someone somewhere has to have their head roll? Astonishing.

  7. klewso

    Glasson – not yet in parliament, but already a politician.

  8. Mike Flanagan

    Guess which division of the Murdoch empire has shown the greatest growth over the last year or so? Non other than his Education Srvices Group.
    So, I doubt the Newmans ‘creativity’.
    Rupert and family has sent him his catachism and probably opened up access to the taxpayers cheque book to set the standards and methods we teach our children and youth.

  9. mikehilliard

    “Once in the workforce advertising professionals [sic] can expect to work for a vast range of clients, some of whose philosophies, products and services they will be supportive of and some they will not.”

    In other words we provide mo moral compass.

  10. mikehilliard

    “no” moral compass, obviously.

  11. mikehilliard

    Sorry, this really annoys me. Wouldn’t Abbott have to have sanctioned this? In my day we would have boycotted the lecture & headed straight to the union bar.

  12. John Bennetts

    Surely there is a mistake somewhere.


    Is QUT really this poorly managed?

    Last time a Qld uni grabbed the headlines it was about rigged student elections. That now appears to have been only a warm-up for the main event.

  13. thelorikeet

    Channel planning? Jargon for “run and hide”?
    As this was blatantly partisan from the oh-so-junior-lecturer, were students given an option to opt out?

  14. Damien

    In the words of Mr Markos, who runs my local corner store and is, himself, a small business man: “the world’s gone mad, mate”

  15. Andrew Bartlett

    That response from QUT doesn’t seem to address the main issue very much at all.

  16. Peter

    Oops, this isn’t going to reflect well on QUT’s credibility as an institute.

  17. Gavin Moodie

    The reporter should never have filed the story without giving QUT an opportunity to comment, but I agree that QUT’s response isn’t very illuminating. I think the back story may be something like this.

    Consider a bachelor of science in computer programming. Many such programs are keen for their 3rd year students to undertake a project from industry. So industry is invited to submit proposals which the lecturer structures as potential student projects from which students or teams of students chose as their 3rd year project. The student (team) is expected to consult their ersatz client and submit their work to the ‘client’ and then to their lecturer.

    Translate that to a bachelor of business in marketing without an acute awareness of political sensitivity and you get ‘LNP farms out campaign to kids’.

  18. Karl

    Isn’t it illegal to use tax money for political campaigning?

  19. Amelinda Cope

    I would like to draw attention to the recent Universe publication release by the Student Guild at QUT in which the editors published extremely bias articles instructing people to stay away from the lunatic socialists, to avoid charity muggers and the avoid whackjobs from the National Union of Students. It wreaks of ideological bias the whole way through the publication even though they argue they are taking the political grandstading out of the campus. Research into the editors of the publication lead me the the YoungLNP, the President of the Guild and pretty much the whole current Guild Council protested the SSAF while Julia Gillard was on campus with Campbell Newman, and last year a bunch of students spreading info on a protest against the funding cuts to public services by Campbell Newman had the police called on them.

  20. thelorikeet

    So, Amelinda (#16), there is unity between the university and the student body on voting LNP. yikes! Whatever became of the youth of today?

  21. Chris Gulland

    Ah the truth is out… a political wannabe who doesn’t know what he is standing for.

  22. CML

    Totally outrageous! Someone should put a stop to this immediately. Universities run largely on public money. Surely they cannot be this politically partisan?
    Who the hell would vote for Glasson if he condones this type of behaviour?

  23. Will

    The QUT response is a joke. That model is perfectly suitable for a range of businesses in a range of industries. But it certainly isn’t for overt political campaigns. This is a lapse of university ethics and political neutrality.

  24. Steve777

    I would have though some of the students would have problems in participating in something like this. Surely common sense would dictate that the University not directly political campaigning of this type. Imagine the mouth-frothing rage from the Right and their media cheer squad (Ackerman, Bolt, IPA spokethingies, etc) if students were used in, say, “Your Rights at Work”, Voluntary Student Unionism or a campaign to counteract disinformation on Climate Change.

  25. Jeannie Rea

    As a lecturer in public relations and public advocacy, I taught subjects on campaigning for many years to under and postgraduate students. It is not at all unusual to grab onto current issues for case studies and class exercises. Indeed a common practice is to encourage students to find a client and develop a real campaign as a major assessment task. I have had students develop campaigns on all sorts of topics and for different types of clients, including for profit businesses, NFPs, NGOs, government agencies and even their own university. Students make their choices moderated by the academic coordinator to ensure that there is no exploitation of the student or any involvement in unethical practice.
    However, going by the report here in Crikey, the trajectory of a QUT Business School’s marketing subject may have stepped too far in developing an awareness campaign for a Liberal-National Candidate in the coming federal election. It is one thing to start with a case study, which may even include the ‘client’ coming to pitch his case, but another for all students to be tied to producing their assessment on this case. I would be surprised if students were not given the choice to pick another candidate or party or issue on which to base their assignment. Whether the exercise was to be entirely hypothetical or shared with the ‘client’ is something to be decided amongst the class. However, it would be naive to think that students would not exercise their own judgement on their work product.
    University lecturers should not shy away for using real world cases and providing students with opportunities to learn within real world settings, even if these may be controversial. We have a federal election this year. Many university students will be voting for the first time. Encouraging a lively and engagement citizenship is indeed cited as a desirable graduate attribute by most universities and future employers. The QUT case demonstrated this, as Crikey discovered it by viewing a student post on another website, criticising the apparent promotion of one side of politics by a lecturer.

    Jeannie Rea
    National President
    National Tertiary Education Union

  26. John Bennetts


    Did you award marks for grammar? Punctuation? Sentence and paragraph construction? Logic? Accuracy? What exactly is an “engagement citizenship”?

    3 paras totalling 347 words?

    It’s no surprise that your days as a lecturer are past.

  27. Raaraa

    A new plan? Outsourcing policies to uni students.

  28. Gavin Moodie

    Some university programs may not equip their students to make ethical judgements, but I don’t see how such a conclusion can be drawn about QUT’s bachelor of business on the evidence provided.

  29. Nick Ash

    The uni response is a joke. In the real world nobody would accept work from a political party they do not support.

    This is a fiasco that warrants serious attention by QUT as to the lecturer’s judgment for probable breach of ethics if not also (illegal?) use of public funds for political purposes.


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