Alan Tudge (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Full disclosure A few tidbits from a recent round of politicians disclosures — Prime Minister Scott Morrison was given a bottle of Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz (which will set you back $380 at Dan Murphys) by one Peter Barry.

Simon Birmingham got given a bottle of Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier from PwC, which retails at roughly $110. Meanwhile, Labor MP Terri Butler’s friendship with the CFMEU is over, and the Rail Tram and Bus Union is her best friend now.

Possibly most noteworthy, newish Liberal MP for Higgins Katie Allen bought herself a Tesla.

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The revolving door Crikey has long kept an eye on those politicians who skip almost straight from government into corporations they’d have dealt with while in government, and we have a new name for the wall: former Western Australian Labor treasurer Ben Wyatt who, after retiring in March, is joining the board of resources giant Woodside.

Apart from the obvious and insulting ease with which politicians routinely do this, it’s a further indication that Woodside is effectively now an arm of government — paid taxpayers’ dollars to clean up the mess it makes, profiting from Australia’s espionage on small nations and, on the other side, employing numerous former government figures: former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer, his top bureaucrat Ashton Calvert, former Liberal resources and energy minister Ian Macfarlane, retired Labor MP Gary Gray, and making some of the biggest political donations (to both sides) in Australia.

Just won’t Tudge According to figures from Universities Australia (UA), the sector lost $1.8 billion and at least 17,300 casual, part-time and permanent staff in 2020. It did all of this, you may remember, with the government performing Entrapment-style contortions to keep from giving it any support whatsoever — going so far as to change the JobKeeper rules when it realised its early draft meant money could to go *chokes back vomit* an academic.

And thanks in part to the government’s Olympic-level stuff-up of the vaccination program, international students (the sector’s biggest source of revenue) will not be back for a while.

In this context, what kind of support and long-term thinking can we expect from Education Minister Alan Tudge, who addressed the first post-COVID UA conference today? Apparently yet more free speech culture war: Tudge told universities not yet “aligned” with the Robert French free speech code to get on with it “with no more excuses”. If they fail to do so, he’ll “examine all options available to the government to enforce it — which may include legislation”.

So there you go. The government isn’t just sitting on its hands over this major industry’s struggles.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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