Jun 8, 2018

Ramsay Centre shows a government focused on the far right, not voters

When voters want politicians to focus on real-world issues, the government getting hooked on far-right obsessions is a poor look.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Trying to interfere with ANU never goes particularly well for conservatives. Tony Abbott and his senior ministers led the charge against the university for divesting in fossil fuel company Santos in 2014, declaring the university was "stupid" to offload its investment. Weeks later, Santos' share price fell off a cliff and four years on remains less than half of its level when Abbott and co were assailing the university. Oddly, we haven't heard much from the government about ANU and Santos in recent times.

Abbott and his friends at News Corp have launched another holy war against ANU, this time over its reluctance to provide a figleaf of academic credibility to a culture war thinktank. Malcolm Turnbull, who sensibly declined to offer investment advice the last time ANU was in reactionary sights, has this time joined in, saying he would grill ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt about knocking back the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. That might be a difficult phone call for the Prime Minister, who wouldn't be used to talking to someone who is not merely smarter than he is, but several orders of magnitude so.

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35 thoughts on “Ramsay Centre shows a government focused on the far right, not voters

  1. Marcus Hicks

    The Far Right continue to portray themselves as victims, even though their level of privilege remains largely undiminished over the last 30 years.

  2. Anne M F

    Good article. I’m becoming more and more despondent at the direction our government is taking us in. The PM and others are completely oblivious to what really matters. I just hope they will not get another term.

    1. leon knight

      Another term ever …if the LNP ever get back it will have to be in a new form that has learnt some decency and fairness.

  3. Longfulan

    Turnbull and his government are not improving their position in the polls. Malcolm may be feeling he hot breath of the ‘delcons’ on his neck, so jump in and support them by having a go at a Nobel laureate. Just needs to add flying buttresses to the crumbling walls of his castle.

  4. 124C4U

    Assuredly there must be some mistake !
    I just flipped over from Crikey’s article about Business kowtowing to China.
    In that article our own Julie (pass the eyedrops) Bishop no less,said; Governments have no business in interfering or trying to influence Private Companies.
    Now you are telling me that Mal Talkbull is doing just that. It’s ghastly and my ghast is totaly flabbered.

  5. brian crooks

    Locked deep in the dark world of the knuckle dragging neanderthals of the coalition, Tony Abbott and his band of 1950`s motley neo cons are slowly dragging the liberal party into political oblivion, while the rest of Australia prepares to vote themselves out of the darkness of the last 5 years at their first opportunity, these relics of a feudal past desperately try to swim against the tide, from being the envy of the world Australia has no become the joke of the world.

    1. kyle Hargraves

      Brian, perhaps some other form of derogative association could be considered but references to Neanderthals do not advance your argument. Having written that you are not the first to abuse the term (on the pages of Crkey) – as a some flicking through of previous articles (of some years ago) suggests.

      Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapien had a common ancestor roughly 600,000 years ago (could be a tad less) (or about 30 odd ice-ages ago). Homo n. existed for 300,000 years and Homo sapien for about 200,000 years (to date). Co-existence occurred for about 35,000 (odd) years. Homo n. had slightly larger brains and stood at about the hight of the average Victorian in the 1850s. Homo n. had superior night vision (and likely day vision), hearing and could withstand temperatures circa -20C without much drama. They were also
      extremely strong. A fifteen year old Neanderthal girl could put a heavy-weight boxer on his butt in about one or two swings. The species extended from Spain to Mongolia. They were hunters, lived in small groups (where the females moved to the family of the male) and observed ritualised burial although more than such social practices remains a matter of debate and further research.

      “while the rest of Australia prepares to vote themselves out of the darkness of the last 5 years at their first opportunity”

      Such is by no means clear Brian. Are you still interested in that bet? Two party preferred is favouring the ALP but we’ll see when it comes to the crunch. As an aside I don’t much care as to who becomes P.M; even you Brian!

      1. Andrea

        I read somewhere that Homo sapiens survived where Neanderthals didn’t because of the relationships they were able to build with wild dogs – dogs were afraid of the neans but warmed to the saps and helped protect them and find food. No wonder we love our dogs.

        1. AR

          That was probably Pat Shipman’s “The Invaders” who posited (from DNA extrapolation) that Neanderthals lacked whites to the eyes and hence were unable to silently direct their hunting dogs.
          In an LNL interview she said it was a long bow (sic!) to infer draw and more likely that dogs were first raised as food which came when called.
          The entire dog/human thangy is more loaded with kultur klaptrap than anything this side of monogamy.
          Worth a read though and she was no slouch in other anthropological writing.

          1. Andrea

            Yes my own dog debunks this theory with her rude bias for the company of burly blokes.

        2. kyle Hargraves

          “I read somewhere that Homo sapiens survived where Neanderthals didn’t because of the relationships they were able to build with wild dogs”

          I happen to know and am able to maintain a discussion with physical geographers, palaeontologists and anthropologists but I don’t claim any great expertise. With that caveat tucked away, the source that you are relying upon, Andrea, I suggest, is on a par with Ron Hubbard.

          The domestication of animals began just prior to the Neolithic (say about 5-6 thousand years prior) and Neanderthals had disappeared thirty odd thousands years prior. The evidence for domestication at the period identified is predicated, in the main, in the rapid increase of dog-numbers. Dogs (warning : Reader’s Digest version) ‘diverged’ from grey wolves being somewhat more ‘social’ and docile than other wolves. This topic is rather big and is littered with PhD theses. There is evidence that a divergence from the grey wolf ancestor occurred (via continuous but isolated breeding) over an interval from 35 thousand years ago (years before present or YBP – for the truly satinised) to somewhere about 20 thousand years ago – with the money being on 27,000 YBP – i.e. well after the extinction of Homo n.

          However, hunter-gather societies were rather small communities and did not maintain unnecessary baggage. Thus it was not until the Neolithic (sedentary activity – agriculture for some) that the domestication of animals could be justified. The obvious question is : “how is it that the Neanderthals existed for 300,000 years (no dogs, wheels, or FB) and became extinct upon the threshold of the domestication of grey wolves”. Enough written : I think.
          As an aside, all animals that are susceptible of domestication were domesticated by circa 4,500 YBP; about the time of the invention of the wheel; interesting huh?

          The domestic dog is a member of the genus Canis. Canines include SPECIES such as foxes, wolves, jackals with hyenas in the rear – so to write. Hyenas, from a taxon perspective are actually closer to felines but their behaviour is much more canine in terms of social order (top-dog to base-dog), hunting in packs, being nocturnal and they attack prey with their teeth rather than with their claws – as do felines.

          As for being able to determine the eye movements of other mammals and Homo n. or Homo s. in particular it is unlikely that the oscillation rate for the eyes of canines has that capacity of resolving power. In fact I’d be happy to wager a grand on the matter. Canines have di-chromatic vision (e.g. foxes – i.e. they cannot see “higher” [in wavelength] than green-blue) with dogs doing a bit (but not much) better. I think we get the dirft.

          I haven’t looked for decades but the Encyclopaedia Britannica had, once upon a time (30 odd years ago) an excellent section on the domestication of animals.

  6. Dog's Breakfast

    That second last paragraph is a great summary Bernard.

    When your philosophy is to have no philosophy, no guiding light or principle, you are left with this, a grab bag of meaningless reactions against anything and everything.

    1. klewso

      Then there’s “That’s where freedom of the press means being able to print whatever partisan propaganda opinion as news they want, contravening any “journalist’s Professional Code of Conduct” – ’til the ABC or someone else digs up something you would rather stayed buried, because it casts the Limited News Party in a less than flattering electoral light”?

  7. BeenAround

    If Brian Schmidt says that accepting the Ramsay Centre ‘offer’ would forever compromise the academic integrity of the ANU, then that is, in my view, the end of the matter.
    What flummoxes me is the delusional claim of the hard Right that the ‘Left’ (whatever that is) is somehow in control of western society. Neo-liberalism, a creature of the Right, has for over 35 years reduced society to a mere ‘economy’ and the Left has for all of that tike failed to turn back the tide. Neo-liberalism has reduced Democracy to a political culture obsessed with populism but controlled by business corporations who don’t vote. For how much more destruction of society do these right wing ghouls lust? Obviously the largely serruptitious destruction of society is not enough. They need to convince the proletariat that the Right is right and the Left is wrong. It seems to me that the cultural warlords of the Right are panicking in the face of the realisation that the proletariat is waking up to the fact that their lives have been stolen by the greed of capitalism and that they may increasingly vote accordingly.

  8. Venise Alstergren

    Bernard Keane is utterly correct…”That might be a difficult phone call for the Prime Minister, who wouldn’t be used to talking to someone who is not merely smarter than he is, but several orders of magnitude so.”
    Watching yesterday’s edition of The Drum it was pathetic to see the gentleman from the Catholic University nattering along rigid R/W conservative furbelows. Pathetic! My God, by the time Mad Malcolm has finished with this country we will be economically and philosophically on the same level as Guatamala.

  9. MJM

    Measured response from Vice-Chancellor Schmidt in today’s Canberra Times: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/at-the-end-of-the-day-it-s-a-matter-of-principle-20180607-p4zk5w.html

    Interesting that ANU Chancellor Gareth Evans is (wisely) staying shtum.

    1. heavylambs

      Old mate Beazley is on board the Ramsay thing. He’s still a silly man.
      How could Schmidt accept a deal that placed ethically vacuous John Howard in the heart of ANU, propelled there by a foundation grown rich on the fruits of his handouts to corporate health?

  10. Hunt Ian

    Well said, Bernard. Turnbull seems unable to lose his anti-Midas touch, and is seemingly bent on making a mess of relations between the Government and our leading university, the ANU.
    The issue is not directly that the Ramsey Centre wants to proclaim European Civilisation as the best thing after sliced bread.
    Certainly, they seem to have an ideological agenda, but the immediate issue is that they demand representation on the appointments committee, appointing staff to their program. The University said “no” and they insisted so the ANU called off discussions. No public university in Australia would accept their demand.
    So tough. Of course, European civilisation now dominates the globe. A course that pretends this is the end of history should be left to the University of the IPA.

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