From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Slippery slope to classroom orgies. The proposed changes to marriage will have Australia’s children participating in classroom orgies, according to one pamphlet handed out in Parramatta earlier this week. The respectful debate continues.

A mysterious knight in shining armour. Is the anti-marriage equality campaign a “David and Goliath” struggle, as the likes of the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton insists? Well, not so much. Damian Wyld of the Marriage Alliance emailed opponents of equality yesterday morning to inform them of a wonderful opportunity. “I’ve got some great news to share,” he wrote. “Knowing our urgent need, a generous benefactor has offered to match all gifts we receive over the next 10 days, to a maximum of $200,000 … It goes without saying, though, that we need funds NOW – and with the generous matching offer on the table, I’m confident we’ll be able to keep raising the support we need.” So who is the mystery opponent of marriage equality who has $200K to sling at the No campaign? Alan Joyce was upfront about his donation. We think Damian’s mystery mate should be, too.

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Not flying high. A Crikey tipster has lived long enough to find out what happens when you’ve been a Qantas frequent flyer for 30 years. He writes:

“A nice high quality envelope arrived today and I opened with anticipation – an upgrade certificate for a future flight booking or a lounge pass, perhaps a 30 year logo bag tag? Well ‘little’ was right.  It is a mocked up boarding pass. I was a ‘little’ underwhelmed. First thought was ‘straight to the poolroom’ but I would have to spend money getting a frame for it. I decided that a very nice bookmark was its best use. Thirty years membership for what is now a major revenue program for a bookmark. Impressive.”

Cash lashes ‘feminists’. Under pressure for appointing a bloke who broke the law to your prize building watchdog? Facing media questions about what you knew, when you knew it and when you told the PM? Why not have a go at female journalists? Yesterday, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash held a media conference to celebrate the strong employment growth in the jobs figures, but that only lasted one question before the assembled hacks got onto Cash’s appointment of the now-resigned Nigel Hadgkiss to the ABCC despite knowing of his conduct in breach of the Fair Work Act. Despite not coming within cooee of the subject at any stage, Cash responded to Crikey’s question regarding when she told the Prime Minister about Hadgkiss by saying “I’ve already answered that”. She then lashed out at the female journalists present, demanding to know why they weren’t asking about CFMEU organiser Luke Collier, who was jailed in 2016 and who had abused a female officer of the Fair Work Building Commission (predecessor body of the ABCC) and who has previously been charged with domestic violence offences. “Where are the feminists in this place?” she angrily demanded. True feminism, it seems, lies in not trying to hold ministers to account for their actions.

The dismissal. The University of Sydney has pursed its lips around the circumstances of the sudden removal of Professor Shane Houston, its deputy vice-chancellor (indigenous strategy and services). An email was sent to all staff on August 24, but no reason was given for Houston’s resignation and/or sacking or if he was moving to another job. Houston has previously drawn the ire of students. A Crikey tipster informs us that Houston was escorted from the campus and his email and phone were disabled. We hear he is likely to bring an unfair dismissal suit, but neither Houston nor USyd responded to our questions. You can give us more information about this anonymously. The university’s email says:

It is with regret and disappointment that I must advise that Professor Shane Houston will be stepping down from his role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) and leaving the University today.

Since 2011, Professor Houston has led our institution-wide strategy to advance Indigenous participation, engagement, education and research through the Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabugu Strategy.

This strategy has seen a 36 percent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying at Sydney, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff numbers have almost doubled, and our success rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have been consistently high. Through the strategy, the University has also become a more culturally competent institution, and an Indigenous perspective has become more firmly embedded in our day-to-day life.

I wish to thank Shane for his contribution to this success. He has brought a vision and determination to ensuring that the University of Sydney is a place where we all have a greater understanding of the history and the distinctive contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to Australian society.

This would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Shane’s team, with whom I have met today to share this news, and the rest of the University community, who have embraced the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and research as core to our identity as an Australian institution. I look forward to continuing to support them as we build on Shane’s work. The University remains committed to ensuring the continuing success of the Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabugu Strategy, and we will take this opportunity to refresh and strengthen our approach so we can continue to be relevant and responsive to the needs of our Indigenous communities.

I anticipate starting the recruitment process for a new Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) shortly, and I will keep you updated on progress. Meanwhile I have asked Professor Juanita Sherwood to act in the role on a temporary basis until the recruitment process has been completed. The appointment of a new Deputy Vice-Chancellor will lead into the renewal phase of our Indigenous Strategy and build on the good work that has been done over the past six years.

Please join me in wishing Shane all the very best for his future endeavours.



Dr Michael Spence AC

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

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