Our readers respond to the war, fought on many fronts by the government and its allies — particularly against free inquiry in universities, the ABC. Elsewhere they were amazed at the lack of transparency around the lobbyists with access to the heart of decision making in this country.
David Edmunds writes: The story of western civilisation is a rejection of conservative ideas and values, more or less from the middle ages on. The development of western civilisation encompasses the renaissance, the rejection of ultimate religious power during the reformation, the enlightenment and the development of science, the industrial revolution, the development of democracy and in the 20th century, the rejection of many conservative mores and values, such as the acceptance of the place of women in the workplace and society more widely.
Our universities are the conservators of western civilisation, with almost all courses suffused with what most of us would see as the principles of western civilisation. The universities have laboured mightily to retain courses in philosophy, art and literature against the trenchant opposition from many conservatives who view such courses as an indulgence. Bernard Keane made the point that ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt, a Nobel prize winner in cosmology, demonstrates what western civilisation is about. Science and its methods are a core part of western civilisation but regarded by many conservatives as just a vehicle for a different ideology. Western universities have developed a model of independence that is a fundamental part of our western civilisation, and something that sets them apart from those in more authoritarian parts of the world. Even courses in aspects of Asian civilisation are delivered in accordance with the principles of open enquiry that are fundamental to western civilisation.
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It is not clear exactly what the Ramsay Centre wants, but from Tony Abbot’s comments it seems to be some uncritical overarching triumphalism, supported by the reputation and integrity of one of our universities.
In almost every respect, what the Ramsay Centre supporters have said and done, and their reactions to the ANU rejection, are precisely in opposition to the fundamental tenets of western civilisation.
Elizabeth Williams writes: Lobbying interests are a major interference with democracy, just as important as Chinese influence, it’s just that we do not know enough about it. Every minister should have to publish an abstract for their decisions including who they spoke with and the information that the decision is based on.
Glen Davis writes: Just create and publish a list. Fairfax did. Those omitted will rush to be included.
Marilyn Peters writes: I am a bit tired of pompous politicians saying it is their “job” to review how the ABC’s dollars are spent. Well I reckon it is the electorate’s job to see what they all cost us. Would love someone to investigate what the farcical dual citizenship episode cost us for a start. Would also like to know what the Federal Parliament costs us with the 5000 employees of Parliament House, to say nothing of the $200k plus on salaries etc. Crikey, I love your work and am so pleased I subscribed.