Advocate vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au • ISSN 1329-7295
CAE action success!
Better pay & conditions, workplace rights secured ɓɓALP reversal on dumb cuts ɓɓCommission of Audit ɓɓRecognition vs Sovereignty ɓɓWhat to expect from Budget 2014 ɓɓHumanities under attack
ɓɓERA and intellectual freedom ɓɓJohn Pilger’s Utopia ɓɓTrans-Pacific Partnership ɓɓGeneral Staff Conference ɓɓCanada’s war on science
ɓɓUniversity marketing slogans ɓɓMembers in Australia Day honours ɓɓThe Great Leap Backwards ɓɓAcademic scattering ɓɓ... and much more.
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Contents Cover image: CAE strike supporter. Photo by Toby Cotton.
Freedom is not just another word Editorial, Jeannie Rea
Radical conservatism reprised From the General Secretary
ALP agrees uni cuts are dumb cuts
NSW may hand unis over to Feds
Historic strike at CAE
Bargaining State of Play
New choice for those bullied at work
Members vote for action at UWA
UQ staff vote to strike
Agreement reached at ACT unis
10 Unionists show support for refugees
CARA in Australia
11 MOOCs still hyped, but cold reality seeping in
Anna Stewart Memorial Project
12 Commission of Audit 13 NTEU Lecture: Prof Marian Baird UNICASUAL NEWS 14 I know what you did last summer 15 Swinburne casual victory
A measure of job security
National Insecure Work Conference
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26 Academic scattering
18 Higher education and the age of uncertainty Those parts of the Budget dealing with university funding will be shaped by the findings of the Kemp Norton Review of the demand driven model (DDM).
20 Humanities and social science under attack Andrew Bonnell warns on the Government’s plans to redirect ARC funding from ‘ridiculous’ research in the humanities and social science to research ‘on things that really matter.’
22 Is the ERA antithetical to intellectual freedom? Jen Kwok reports the ARC is insisting it will incorporate new measures on impact and engagement into the 2015 ERA exercise. But it is apparent that the new measures will be driven by metrics and protections to intellectual freedom will be missing.
23 New Policy Advocacy website
24 The more things change, the more they stay the same
TPP: A new threat to Sovereignty
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16 WIPC:E 2014 17 John Pilger’s Utopia
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9 UTS Branch President suspended
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Advocate ISSN 1321-8476 Published by National Tertiary Education Union ABN 38 579 396 344 Publisher Grahame McCulloch Editor Jeannie Rea Production Paul Clifton Editorial Assistance Anastasia Kotaidis Feedback, advertising and other enquiries: email@example.com
36 A tail of two BNs News from the Net, by Pat Wright 37 The Great Leap Backwards Lowering the Boom, by Ian Lowe 38 Working until it’s right Thesis Whisperer, Inger Mewburn
Previously departmentalised Indigenous funding programs have been folded into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Is this a progressive and necessary step for the achievement of the stated goals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, or will rhetoric and tokenism continue to rein over substance?
The traditional academic career structure is built around a mobility that is hard to maintain with relationships or dependants. Katie Mack is still trying to figure out how to keep a pet.
28 Dumb cuts are still being pursued The Coalition promised one million new jobs over the next 5 years, which one would think meant that the focus must surely be turning to skills development. Yet the higher education funding cuts are still being pursued.
29 Trading away democracy The Government will cede power to legislate on public interest matters to corporations if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ratified.
30 The neo-conservative war on science In Canada, a war on science being waged against higher education and research; a portent for the new Australian policy agenda.
32 Abolishing caps by selling off debt The UK’s planned removal of enrolment caps is to be funded by selling student debt.
33 IWD is more than just morning tea International Women’s Day is more than morning teas and empty rhetoric; the success of Bluestocking Week shows we can do more.
34 Do marketing slogans assist choice of university? We use institutional branding slogans to determine whether marketing expenditure assists students when choosing where to study.
39 We need farsighted university councils, not myopic ones Letter from NZ, Lesley Francey, TEU YOUR UNION 40 Members in Australia Day honours
Professor Kate Warner AM
41 Professor Rosemary Owens AM 42 General Staff Conference 44 Celebrating NTEU’s Foundation Members 46 Organising in a cold, cold climate
Nancy Millis Medal
New and relocated NTEU staff NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 1
Editorial Jeannie Rea, National President
Freedom is not just another word* Academic freedom is the freedom to conduct research, teach, speak and publish, subject to the norms and standards of scholarly inquiry, without interference or penalty, wherever the search for truth and understanding may lead. Colloquium of University Presidents, 2005 The mandate of universities in modern democracies is to provide an environment for the development of ideas, rigorous experimentation, the testing of hypotheses, and critical analysis of existing knowledge. Universities are here to encourage open and rigorous discussions designed to advance knowledge, not rubber-stamp some ideas as good and others as bad based on the personal views we may hold. Stephen Garton, University of Sydney, 2014
Sydney Vice-Chancellor that he needs to ‘satisfy himself that the academic standing of the university and it’s international reputation is not harmed’ by the publicly expressed views of academics. Other Coalition MPs have apparently called upon the University to discipline controversial academics. Quoted in The Australian, Mr Pyne has recognised that ‘each university is responsible for its own governance, but universities should avoid needless controversies that damage their reputation [and] also make Australia look less respectable to our potential student market.’ He also stated that: ‘Obviously, many members of parliament are concerned to ensure that the reputation for high quality that Australian universities have earned over decades is not threatened in any way.’ Fortunately, University of Sydney Acting Vice-Chancellor and Provost Professor Stephen Garton quickly jumped in to look after the international reputation and standing of Australian universities through an opinion piece in The Australian on 10 January, challenging those urging the disciplining of academics.
It has not taken long for the Abbott Coalition Government to demonstrate the contradictions in their position on the right to speak out. On the one hand, trenchant critic of the Human Rights Commission, Tim Wilson, has recently been appointed as the Freedom Commissioner. Wilson has explained that his job is to re-focus the Commission on defending the right of freedom of speech rather than upon anti-discrimination work. At the same time the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, has been providing gratuitous advice to the University of
‘Such criticisms fail to understand the nature of universities or the fact that the recommended punishment would do far more damage to Australia’s reputation as a robust and open democracy than anything uttered by Lynch or Anderson,’ wrote Garton. Professor Garton concluded that if Australian universities do not defend the rights of academics to controversial views, then ‘students and staff in Australia and around the world would rightly shun our university because it would clearly not be committed to the cardinal principle of free and open enquiry.’
NATIONAL OFFICE STAFF
National President Vice-Presidents General Secretary National Asst Secretary
Industrial Unit Coordinator Linda Gale National Industrial Officers Wayne Cupido, Susan Kenna, Elizabeth McGrath
Jeannie Rea Kelvin Michael (Academic) Lynda Davies (General) Grahame McCulloch Matthew McGowan
National Executive: Andrew Bonnell, Stuart Bunt, Linda Cecere, Stephen Darwin, Gabe Gooding, Ryan Hsu, Genevieve Kelly, John Kenny, Margaret Lee, Colin Long, Virginia Mansel Lees, Kevin Rouse, John Sinclair, Jan Sinclair-Jones, Melissa Slee, Michael Thomson, Lolita Wikander Indigenous Member (IPC Chair) Terry Mason
Policy & Research Coordinator Policy & Research Officers Indigenous Coordinator Indigenous Organiser National Organiser National Publications Coordinator Media & Communications Officer National Membership Officer Education & Training Officers
page 2 • NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate
Paul Kniest Jen Tsen Kwok, Terri MacDonald Adam Frogley Celeste Liddle Michael Evans Paul Clifton Courtney Sloane Melinda Valsorda Ken McAlpine, Helena Spyrou
Presumably, the Freedom Commissioner is explaining to his Coalition friends that the right of freedom of speech also applies to academics. Indeed, Mr Wilson should also draw their attention to the 2011 amendment to the Higher Education Support Act 2003, supported by the Coalition, which states that universities in receipt of public funds ‘must have a policy that upholds free intellectual inquiry in relation to learning, teaching and research.’ We can look forward to more passionate philosophical and practical tussles over the right to free speech within and outside universities. It is not without controversy, as the freedom to speak is only available to those who have the means to be heard. Universities can provide safe spaces and voice for the most disadvantaged and powerless. Universities do not always do this despite the high minded rhetoric. We also need to remind ourselves that intellectual freedom is more than free speech. The freedom to conduct research and to teach ‘without interference or penalty’ is undermined by current university policies and practices. One example is academic workload models that do not count research outside university priority areas. Casualisation and the ‘unbundling’ of academic work are leaving teaching academics without control over what and how they teach. These are the sleeper issues of intellectual freedom that have repercussions for the reputation and academic standing of Australian universities. Jeannie Rea, National President firstname.lastname@example.org *Apologies to Kris Kristofferson
Executive Manager Peter Summers ICT Network Engineer Tam Vuong Database Programmer/Data Analyst Ray Hoo Payroll Officer Jo Riley Executive Officer (Gen Sec & President) Anastasia Kotaidis Executive Officer (Administration) Tracey Coster Admin Officer (Membership & Campaigns) Julie Ann Veal Administrative Officer (Resources) Renee Veal Receptionist & Administrative Support Leanne Foote Finance Manager Glenn Osmand Senior Finance Officer Gracia Ho Finance Officers Alex Ghvaladze, Tamara Labadze, Lee Powell, Daphne Zhang National Growth Organisers Gaurav Nanda, Rifai Abdul, Priya Nathan
From the General Secretary Grahame McCulloch, General Secretary
Radical conservatism reprised After six months in office it is clear that Tony Abbott’s Government is committed to the radical conservatism pioneered by the Prime Minister’s mentor, former PM John Howard.
ments which resist the Coalition’s policy objectives. The Government has already announced a spill of Tertiary Education Quality Standards Authority (TEQSA) commissioners and a reduction in the ambit of TEQSA’s authority accompanied by a direct increase in the Minister’s power. In combination with a review of the higher education demand driven model by well-known market conservatives, David Kemp and Andrew Norton (see report, p. 18), this change is likely to see easier access to accreditation and government subsidies for private higher education providers.
The outlines of the Abbott agenda can be discerned in the flurry of reviews and bureaucratic changes announced by the incoming Government. Across the public sector as a whole, the appointment of Business Council chief, Tony Shepherd as head of the Audit Commission (see report, p. 12) foreshadows fiscal austerity and a more aggressive promotion of private health and education markets – a view likely to be echoed and reinforced by the appointment of Maurice Newman as the PM’s Business Advisory Council Chair.
Presumably, the Freedom Commissioner is explaining to his Coalition friends that the right of freedom of speech also applies to academics. In the schools sector the announcement of yet another review of the national curriculum, headed by well-known conservative education commentator Kevin Donnelly, is a probable prelude to the rekindling of John Howard’s culture wars.
While the Coalition campaigned on an election promise to bury its WorkChoices past, new Industrial Relations Minister, Eric Abetz has announced measures to enable individual flexibility clauses to undermine key employment standards.
While schools are the Coalition’s first and most important battle ground in this war, Tony Abbott is already using the bully pulpit of Prime Ministerial authority to extend the battle front to independent scientific
In higher education we can expect to see the use of strong Commonwealth powers to intervene with, and where necessary override, institutions and State govern-
Since 1958, the Australian Universities’ Review has been encouraging debate and discussion about issues in higher education and its contribution to Australian public life.
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To complete the picture we also confront the inevitable fallout and challenge from the Government’s announced Royal Commission into the affairs and probity of five particular trade unions and industrial sectors, noting that the Commission’s terms of reference can be interpreted more widely. For NTEU this new adverse environment requires a sober appraisal and review of our plans for the next three years. We will continue to intervene in the higher education public policy debate, but must also contend with the reality of the rightwing balance of power in the Senate from 1 July 2014. The keys to defending members’ interests in the short to medium term are the completion of our collective bargaining round (to fully protect employment conditions from legislative attack for the whole of the Government’s term), continued membership expansion to build the Union’s presence in the workplace (noting that we hope to match the annual growth rate of over 4 per cent achieved in 2012 and 2013), and forging enduring alliances with other organisations sharing our public policy and industrial objectives. Grahame McCulloch, General Secretary email@example.com
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www.aur.org.au NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 3
Update ALP agrees uni cuts are dumb cuts Late last year, the ALP parliamentary party reversed its position on the $2.3 billion cuts to higher education. These were the cuts they had announced in April 2013 and included in the final Wayne Swan Federal Budget. The cuts required legislative changes which were not introduced before the election, but were taken up by the Coalition Government. When they were put to the House of Representatives in November, the ALP voted against the amendment bills. The proposed cuts were never defensible. Last April, the NTEU immediately initiated the Dumb Cuts campaign focussing upon the $900 million so-called efficiency dividend cut to university operating grants and the $1.2 billion cut to the Student Start-up Scholarships for the most financially disadvantaged students. The campaign against garnered unprecedented support within and outside the sector, and the Gillard Government was broadly condemned for cutting higher education to fund the Gonski reforms to schools funding. Not surprisingly, the incoming Coalition Government eagerly endorsed the higher education cuts and sought to push through the legislation immediately. They detached the university cuts from funding the schools reforms, thus giving the ALP the opening to oppose them. In introduc-
ing the legislation, the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, conceded that the cuts would be damaging to universities and students. The Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 20 November 2013. Amongst other things, it sought to abolish existing Student Start-up Scholarships (two grants of $1,025 per year to eligible students) and replaced them from 1 January 2014 with income-contingent student start-up loans. The following day, Minister Pyne introduced the Higher Education Support Amendment (Savings and Other Measures) Bill 2013. This Bill sought to slash more than $900 million from university grants over the next four years; an average $600 per government-supported student place. The Bill also cost students almost $300 million in lost discounts for early repayment of HECS debts. These Bills were passed by the Government majority, with higher education advocates Adam Bandt (Greens) and Andrew Wilkie (Independent) speaking against them. The Bills were introduced to the Senate on 4 December and referred to two separate Senate Committees, which have reported along party lines. The NTEU gave evidence on the impact of the proposals on students’ access, progress and successful completion of their studies. Damage has been done to higher education with underfunding and broken promises by the Rudd and Gillard Labor Governments. In a climate of ideological undermining of funding of public services and institutions, staff and students are anticipating more bad news from the Commission of Audit (see p. 12) and the Abbott Coalition Government’s first Budget in May (see p. 18). Jeannie Rea, National President
Below: NTEU members protesting the original dumb cuts outside Parliament House in June 2013. Photo: Helena Spyrou.
NSW may hand universities over to the Federal Government Talks have commenced between the Federal and NSW governments on shifting control of universities to the Commonwealth. Currently, universities are established and remain under State acts. As government funding has almost completely shifted from the States to the Commonwealth in the last thirty years, this move does make good sense. But we can cannot help but be suspicious of other motives in a climate of questioning intellectual freedom and free speech. Do we need to remind Australian governments that the right of staff to participate in university governance is internationally recognised in the UNESCO 1977 Recommendation on the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel? UNESCO says that staff ‘should have the right and opportunity without discrimination of any kind ... to take part in governing bodies and criticise the functioning of higher education institutions, including their own ...’ Over the past decade, as university councils/senates have bought the corporate line that a smaller, more business oriented governing body informed by a VC/CEO is the answer to university governance, staff (and students) have had to fight to hold on to representation. In 2012, the Victorian Government unilaterally abolished student and staff representation following lobbying from some Chancellors, but against the advice of others. The argument was that staff and students did not have the business and governance skills – and that they have a vested interest. Yes, they do, and that is why they should be on the Council.
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Update Historic strike at CAE How do you keep yourself occupied whilst on a picket line? For three weeks over November/ December last year that was the daily question for NTEU members at the Centre for Adult Education (CAE). With a quickly established routine of setting up at 7am, ready for the morning peak hour in Melbourne’s CBD and the gathering of signatures on the petition, the next question was what to do over the rest of the day. Picket lines are hard work. There is a lot of standing around in all kinds of weather. Putting up with freezing cold, pouring rain, then baking hot with little shade over the bitumen footpath and road. Breathing in the fumes and dust kicked up from traffic and talking to commuters going by all day in their thousands. The picket lines, which were held outside the entrances to the CAE, were at the busiest thoroughfares for pedestrians in all of Melbourne.
A lousy pay offer and an anti-union agenda Workbans, daily one-minute stoppages and noisy marches around the block had been held by staff at the CAE in the preceding months. This was in response to the State Government’s attempt at forcing their anti-union agenda on CAE staff, and management’s lousy pay offer. The CAE Board, implementing the Napthine Government agenda, insisted on the removal of the union/management consultation committee and the requirement to consult the Union over changes to policies, removal of any reference to anti-discrimination legislation, removal of
redeployment rights, and the removal of union representatives’ access to time-release, equipment and communication avenues such as notice-boards. The State Government also sought the removal of an employee’s right to ask the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate a dispute unless the employer agreed – the very same employer that an employee would be in dispute with. In a world crowded with campaigns and causes fighting for media attention, social media limited to the short attention span, and work bans and one-minute stoppages having limited impact on CAE management, the members met to consider what to do. The choice was stark: either accept what was on offer from the employer or go on strike until something better was put on the table. The overwhelming vote was to go on strike – indefinitely.
First timers This decision must be put in to its historical context. Apart from the one-minute strikes, staff had never in the history of the organisation been on strike. All of the CAE teachers and professional staff care deeply about their students and the impact a strike would have on them. They knew this would affect them. Within the first few days of the strike, over 200 classes were cancelled and thousands of students were impacted upon. The Board’s initial response showed pure contempt towards the staff. They refused to meet the Union and refused to consider our claims until their next monthly meeting. If this was an attempt to weaken the members’ resolve, it didn’t work. Over the following week, more staff actively joined the Union and more stood on the picket line every day. Soon there were more than 17,000 hits on the CAE strike action page on Facebook. Public interest grew, a fundraiser for financial support for the strikers was highly successful, students joined their teachers on the picket, other unions and activists came and stood in solidarity and
ice-cream, doughnuts, cheese and coffee were given to the picketers by the public and shopkeepers. Cars and trucks honked in support, musicians came to play with picketers who brought out their own instruments, lessons in samba dancing were held and songs were sung. Over 7,000 signatures on the petition were collected online and on the street.
Success of the strike This strike was successful because of the strength and courage of the members. By the end of the second week, everyone was exhausted, but still determined. If it was not for the hard work, persistence and perceptiveness of the four delegates, the industrial action would not have got off the ground. Carlos Marquez-Perez, Lay-Ping Powell, Michelle McCann and Tania Daniels were always there to answer questions and to keep staff informed in the lead up to the strike. They got people to meetings and kept members involved. Most staff had never been on strike and many were understandably very nervous about taking this step. The delegates provided immediate support, advice and encouragement. In the more than two years of bargaining and countless meetings with management, the delegates also had to do their job on top of their representation role. These four were truly amazing. After almost three weeks on the picket, a deal with management was struck. It was not perfect. However, it did include the withdrawal of all of the anti-union cuts, the right to access arbitration at the Fair Work Commission, a better salary increase, a new classification structure for professional staff, the inclusion of a teacher classification structure for the first time ever and pay increases for sessional teachers (accredited/pre-accredited courses) of 27% to 83% depending on qualifications. At the time of publishing, this agreement is awaiting approval from the Fair Work Commission. Gia Underwood, Victorian Division Industrial Officer,
Below: Colin Long rallying members (©Hayden Golder)
NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 5
Update Bargaining update Good progress at some universities, but threats of industrial action loom at others The end of 2013 saw a number of breakthroughs in negotiations at universities including Tasmania, RMIT, Charles Darwin, Murdoch and ANU. Seventeen NTEU-endorsed Agreements have been finalised, with bargaining at a number of other sites progressing well. However, there are a significant number of universities where progress has stalled,
Above: Solidarity on the picket line at Melbourne University in September last year. Photo: Toby Cotton forcing Branches to consider taking industrial action. Pay outcomes of between 3.15% and 3.5% per annum have been achieved for Agreements over the past 6 months. For the first time, this bargaining round has also seen single Agreements (covering both
academic and general/professional staff ) at Curtin, Edith Cowan, the University of Tasmania and Murdoch University. Indigenous employment strategies and targets have been negotiated at all sites, with commitments to employment targets either in the Agreements or in MOUs.
Round 6 Bargaining – State of Play March 2014 Casual academics
General Staff Claims
Annual wage growth (expiry to expiry)
More secure positions
Hours-based cap on teaching
Development & mobility
Employment strategy / targets
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Update This round of bargaining has also seen the creation of approximately 500 secure positions for which eligible casual teaching staff can apply. These are predominantly continuing or fixed term positions and will be specifically created to address the sector’s reliance on an ever increasing casualised teaching workforce.
New choice for those bullied at work
Professional/general staff classifications procedures have been protected and enhanced thus far and access to centrally funded professional development has been included in a number of Agreements for the first time.
Employees bullied in the workplace can now access the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to seek an order for the bullying to stop.
Despite the growing number of Agreements across the sector, there are still a number of university management bargaining teams dragging their feet and unable to reach a fair and sensible settlement. The NTEU puts these universities on notice and will escalate our campaign to protect and improve working conditions for members over the next few weeks.
From 1 January, the Commission has had jurisdiction to hear matters around bullying in the workplace. The FWC can make any order it sees fit, including that the bullying cease or, for example, that training and policies be implemented.
Wayne Cupido, National Industrial Officer www.universitybargaining.org.au
The Commission may prove to be a speedy choice for staff, with some action required by the FWC within 14 days of receiving an application. This may involve sending the parties to media-
Members vote for industrial action at UWA NTEU members at the University of Western Australia have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action over their claims for a new Enterprise Agreement. Dr Jamie O’Shea, NTEU Branch President at the University of WA, said that the results of the protected action ballot shows how determined University staff are to send a message to University management. ‘University of WA management is offering a wage deal which is low in comparison to Agreements already struck at Curtin and Edith Cowan Universities,’ said Dr O’Shea. ‘Staff have delivered huge increases in productivity, improvements in research outcomes and have boosted UWA in international rankings. In the meantime there has been a 50% increase in student numbers with 0% increases in teaching staff numbers.’ NTEU lodged its Log of Claims for a new Enterprise Agreement on 22 November 2012. ‘This has been dragging on for far too long,’ said Dr O’Shea. Dr O’Shea said that University staff are campaigning for an agreement that finds a balance between teaching and research for Academic Staff and improves career paths for general staff. Courtney Sloane, Media & Communications Officer
tion prior to any formal hearing. Evidence will of course be crucial if employees seek an arbitrated decision from a member of the Commission. Since 1 January, over 40 applications have been received by the FWC but we are yet to see a full decision emerge. Over time we should get some sense of the approach taken by the Commission and the success of the new laws. It appears the main reason an employee would go to the Commission is to seek an efficient remedy to prevent future bullying. The Commission has no power to award compensation so employees who have an illness or injury should still seek recompense from the appropriate workers’ compensation jurisdiction. NTEU is likely to lodge our first application on behalf of an academic employee in the coming weeks. Susan Kenna, National Industrial Officer
UQ staff vote to strike Members at the NTEU University of Queensland (UQ) Branch have voted to step up their enterprise bargaining campaign with a set of actions culminating in a 24 hour strike in the second week of semester 1. Members unanimously voted for a campaign of rolling industrial action, including selective bans on email, attending university events, overtime and after-hours work, and a strike on 11 March. ‘We took action at the end of last year and seemed to be making some progress. We’ve come back to the table and we’re worried we might be spinning our wheels,’ said Andrew Bonnell, the NTEU UQ Branch President. ‘UQ, which prides itself on being in the world’s top 100, has little to boast about when it comes to salaries, where it trails all the other Group of 8 Universities. Moreover its performance on other indicators important to our members, such as rates of Indigenous employment, is miserably low.’ ‘UQ is in the top three Universities in the country on most indicators but 23rd on pay. Student numbers have risen by 20% over 5 years with no increase in teaching staff. Around 50% of undergraduate teaching is now done by casuals paid by the hour.’ ‘More negotiations are scheduled prior to the strike, so hopefully we will see some progress and avert the need for action. We are striking in the second week so we can explain to students why we are taking action, and get them on board.’
NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 7
Update Agreements reached at ACT universities After difficult negotiations at each institution, the NTEU finalised Agreements at the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Canberra (UC) late in 2013. ANU Agreement reached after protected action ballot
ployment targets and provides cultural and carers’ leave for Indigenous staff.
Improved UC Agreement
After NTEU members’ strong vote to authorise industrial action, ANU management dropped its previous insistence on a below-inflation pay offer of 2 per cent per year. Negotiators then reached an Agreement that was acceptable to NTEU members and staff. It provides four annual 3 per cent payrises and, for the first time, a cap on academic workloads.
Under the UC Enterprise Agreement, salaries will increase at the same rate as the Higher Education Grants Index which determines recurrent university funding. The Union initially had reservations about this approach due to the uncertainty of the pay outcome. However, further negotiations assured guaranteed salary increases across the life of the Agreement.
The right of ANU professional staff to always be paid either penalty rates or time in lieu for agreed overtime work has been strengthened. The new Agreement also brings much stronger provisions for strategies to achieve Indigenous em-
The Agreement also doubled – to two years – the total parental leave period available to primary carers who are not the birth mother. Parental leave provisions have been extended to cover those who become parents through surrogacy.
Above: ACT Division Secretary Stephen Darwin addresses an ANU members meeting in November 2013. The new UC Enterprise Agreement creates Indigenous Teaching Fellowships, for contracts of up to five years, to assist in increasing the level of Indigenous employment. It sets a firm target of increasing Indigenous employment levels to 1 per cent of the staff total by December 2015. The Agreement provides Indigenous staff five days’ paid leave per year for ceremonial and bereavement reasons.
Domestic violence support For the first time, both the ANU and UC Agreements provide support for people affected by domestic violence in order to improve their situation. Each Agreement also has much improved managing change provisions, requiring managements to consult with staff early enough in the process of considering organisational change to give them the opportunity to genuinely influence the decisions made. ‘These Agreements have made important improvements in conditions,’ stated ACT Division Secretary, Stephen Darwin. ‘We are particularly proud of those which increase equity for Indigenous staff and safety for people affected by domestic violence. I’m also pleased we have strengthened the right for staff to genuine consultation about changes that will affect their work lives.’ Jane Maze, ACT Division Communications Officer/ Organiser
Left: NTEU UWS members at a Board of Trustees meeting, demonstrating their support for a fair Enterprise Agreement. page 8 • NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate
Update UTS Branch President suspended In December, the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) suspended NTEU Branch President Simon Wade from his position of 16 years. Despite a sustained campaign, he has not yet been reinstated. The suspension came after months of Simon being harassed in his workplace due to his involvement in enterprise bargaining on behalf of UTS staff. These attacks led to conciliation in Fair Work Australia in September where protocols were established to provide for Simon’s attendance at the bargaining table. Despite these protocols, the attacks continued unabated. UTS management then ramped up the same so-called performance issues into a misconduct charge and suspended him from his position. Simon has comprehensively answered all allegations and is receiving industrial support and representation from the NTEU The processes employed by the University against Simon are appalling and members of the NTEU and other unions have rallied in support.
Rally and petition On 16 December, UTS staff and students held a vibrant and vocal snap action outside the UTS tower on the theme ‘Defend union rights at UTS’. They were joined by representatives from the NTEU NSW Division, Unions NSW, CPSU, the Teachers Federation, IEU, RBTU, as well as Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, Greens MLC John Kaye and UTS Students Association President, Andy Zephyr. NTEU Branch Presidents and members from Sydney, UNSW, UWS and Macquarie attended along with student supporters. A petition was launched with over 1,500 signatures calling on management to: • I mmediately lift the suspension of NTEU Branch President Simon Wade. • Provide all union bargaining representatives proper time release to participate in the bargaining process on behalf of UTS staff. • Respect the right of UTS staff to be members of a union and to actively participate in that union if they choose to do so.
Attempts to stifle discussion In January, UTS management took action in Fair Work Australia to try to stop the NTEU campaign against the suspension. They claimed that the Union had exacerbated the dispute by holding our December rally, by circulating a petition in support of Simon and by seeking the support of Unions NSW. In conciliation, the NTEU said that we have no intention of backing away from our campaign in support of Simon and that we are happy to let the matter run its course though the disputes procedure. We believe our member has been targeted for his union activities.
Appeal to the Vice-Chancellor In December, NTEU wrote to the ViceChancellor seeking a meeting to attempt to have the University reconsider its actions and discuss appropriate resolution. We expressed our concern about the failure of management to implement the Agreement to support Simon’s representative role in his workplace. We said: In September 2013, Simon was the subject of unsatisfactory performance allegations based on these difficulties. The allegations were subsequently withdrawn after NTEU action in the Fair Work Commission. We believe this process is an extension of this lack of support for his roles and we want to ensure measures are put in place to avoid these issues in future. The Vice-Chancellor has refused to meet the Union to discuss the matter and a meeting with the DVC was cancelled at the last minute on advice from HR. Our invitation to the Vice-Chancellor to discuss this in a reasonable manner is still open. The allegations against Simon are unsubstantiated and minor. Even if substantiated, there are no allegations that in the normal understanding would constitute misconduct. This matter has been totally mismanaged at a very low level of the uni-
versity and is causing extremely adverse consequences for Simon in his workplace. The University claims to be conducting an investigation. However, the investigator accepted a statement from Simon and proceeded to go on leave for the whole of February. The HR manager has approached staff mentioned in Simon’s rebuttal in a manner that may corrupt any evidence they give to any investigation. The attack on the NTEU Branch President has clearly distracted attention from the fact that, at the bargaining table, UTS management have an agenda to undermine the Union’s claims for better job security, less dependence on a casual workforce, better career paths for professional staff and fair pay for the work performed for the University.
What can we do? Staff and elected officials at the NTEU Branch and Division level are working to support Simon in refuting these allegations and to challenge the broader attack on the rights of members at UTS to be active in their union. The work being done by members like Simon – defending staff conditions against management’s attempt to avoid fair process and procedures, and remove any accountability for its decision-making – is vital to ensuring UTS is a workplace where staff are treated with respect. Please sign the petition and encourage your colleagues (members and non-members) to do so. Check the UTS website for updates on actions you can attend or support. There has never been a more important time to come together and stand up to management. Genevieve Kelly, NSW Division Secretary Sign the petition: www.nteu.org.au/uts
Photo: Genevieve Kelly and Simon Wade at the December rally.
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Update Union members show support for refugees The NTEU has strong policy in support of refugees, opposing off shore processing and mandatory detention of refugees. Many NTEU members are active around refugees issues, and have joined with other unions to form the group Unions for Refugees. Members are angered by the previous government’s setting up of Manus Island, and the current government’s even more hardline and secretive approach. The aim of Unions for Refugees is to involve ordinary workers and union members in understanding refugee issues and becoming refugee activists in their work places and communities and to build political support for the movement to welcome refugees. Unions involved include the NTEU, Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU), Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and the Financial Service Union (FSU). Unions for Refugees is seeking endorsement from other unions. In NSW, we have a NTEU for Refugees Division working party. The aims of the working party are to advertise pro-refugee events, encourage NTEU members to participate, and support Branches organising refugee meetings. We will also be taking NTEU flags to have a visible presence at refugee rallies. NSW Branches are organising their own working parties and are planning to lobby their own universities for scholarships for refugees. Michael Thomson, University of Sydney Branch President For more inmformation, or to take part: email@example.com
Photo: Union members rally for refugees in Sydney in February.
CARA seeks to establish chapter in Australia A group of Australian academics are looking to establish a local chapter of the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA). They are calling fellow academics to become CARA champions within their institutions, so that in time, those CARA supporters are able to fulfil their vital role in the future rebuilding of their countries. Founded by Sir William Beveridge in 1933 to help rescue and relocate academics persecuted under Nazi and Fascist regimes in Europe, CARA has been a lifeline to persecuted academics across the globe for over 80 years, as and when academics find themselves in the firing line – sometimes literally. Those helped in the 1930s and 40s were an extraordinary group including Ernst Chain, Karl Popper, Max Perutz, Sigmund Freud, Nikolaus Pevsner, and Hans Krebs, whose legacies live on today. In collaboration with the 98 universities that make up the CARA Scholars at Risk UK Universities Network, CARA supports periods of sanctuary in the form of university placements, but which are by no means limited to the UK. In the 1930s and 1940s, CARA turned to the US, Canada and Australia, amongst other destinations. Karl Popper was relocated in 1937 to Canterbury University College Christchurch in New Zealand, where he become a lecturer in philosophy. Post-war, CARA worked with the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission supporting placements for German scientists. More recently, a group of Australian academics supported the CARA Iraq Program over a period of three years, partnering Iraqi academics both in exile and in-country in research collaborations of direct relevance to Iraq. In the past couple of months, Macquarie University has ring-fenced a PhD placement with full bursary for a CARA client. It is to perpetuate this spirit of solidarity, that a group of Australian academics are looking to establish a CARA Chapter in Australia. The silencing of principled voices in any country is an attack on us all and it is in the interests of all universities and academics to understand and support the work of an organisation like CARA. Its mission goes to the heart of the things we should all hold dear and it is salutary to be reminded how fragile our comforts and privileges can be. To learn more or become a part of CARA in Australia, please contact John Simons, firstname.lastname@example.org. www.cara1933.org
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Update MOOCs still hyped, but cold reality seeping in While the massive open online courses (MOOCs) advocates and critics predictions that MOOCs would be the end of bricks and mortar universities have crumbled, there is still good cause for concern. A number of Australian universities are intent on pursuing MOOCs and are partnering with the big international companies. These initiatives combine commitment to enabling access to university level learning with reputation and marketing purposes. Clearly, such courses give a taster for the university and may be an attractive recruitment tool for staff and students, particularly internationally. Consequently, significant funds are going into developing subjects with high production values and, hopefully, high quality pedagogy. However, the problem is diversion of scarce learning and teaching development resources into these exclusive areas. The consequence is an increasing squeeze on the people, space and materials available for the core university business of teaching undergraduates.
Internationally, and specifically in the US, the MOOCs have fairly rapidly lost their open aspect with universities and the MOOC companies entering into purchasing arrangements that close the courses for both delivery and credit. This has alarmed university staff and unions as the implications for intellectual freedom and working conditions are further contracted. The issues around online university education in a climate of massive contingent / precarious employment of academics are not new.
dents being stuck with the online courses while the privileged still enjoy full service university education. Staff employed to tutor/coach/mentor students are increasingly distant from identifying with, and being considered, academics or university teachers, which also means that their working conditions and pay rates are often outside collective agreements.
The gap between who writes and teaches courses has clear implications for control of one’s intellectual freedom as a university teacher. There is much concern about the constrictions imposed by the online environment of having to teach to the program with little opportunity to explore issues or even adapt to the student cohort. Alarm bells are ringing about the most ill prepared and financially struggling stu-
Jeannie Rea, National President Follow MOOCs, online teaching and intellectual freedom on our website:
The NTEU is developing a discussion paper on Australian online higher education and is seeking members’ input and engagement. Contact the National Policy and Research Unit at email@example.com.
Anna Stewart Memorial Project turns 30 Launched in 1984 to honour the life and work of an inspiring union activist who fought for women’s rights at work and in the union movement itself, the Anna Stewart Memorial Project is now in its 30th year of mentoring women unionists. The Victorian Trades Hall Council runs the project twice a year, bringing women from all unions together for three weeks of intensive immersion in the work of unions. Participants spend some time together at Trades Hall, learning from a variety of women leaders about union responses to the challenges facing women in the workplace. The remainder of the program places the participants with trade unions, where they work-shadow union staff and officers, gaining hands-on experience in how unions work. These placements may be with the participants’ own unions but more often are with a union from another industry sector. Over the last 30 years, close to 40 NTEU members have participated in the Anna Stewart Memorial Project. All have found the experience valuable and inspiring, and most have gone on to take up more active roles within the NTEU. Anna’s example continues to inspire greater participation by women in Australian unions, and the ASMP builds the capacity of women new to union activism, empowering them to move confidently into what can still feel too much like a male domain. www.vthc.org.au/your-rights-at-work/vthc-womens-officer/anna-stewart-memorial-project
Photo: 2013 ASMP group
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We do know, however, that one of the key recommendations of the Commission will be its own continued existence, as it seeks to roll out a broader review of government expenditure and structures into the future.
TH ER E
Neither of the Commission’s reports are to be made publically available.
Transparency and structure
A short time frame
The appointment of three external pro-business, non-government advisers as Commissioners, and the exclusion of representatives from unions or community organisations, raises questions over both the transparency and balance. It does nothing to allay fears that the Commission is a political mechanism for the slashing or mass privatisation of public services.
The short time line allocated for the audit is of huge concern. The wide-ranging, whole of government audit, tasked with reviewing some $350 billion worth in expenditure, the employment of tens of thousands of Australians nationally, and complex multi level government financial and regulatory arrangements, has less than five months to produce its reports. It will be impossible for the Commission to use an evidence-based approach, or to be able to take the full measure of the task at hand.
Possible recommendations The difficulty in addressing what the Commission may, or may not recommend, is compounded further with the absence of an issues paper. The only guide to what the Commission might address is
In an unusual move, the Commission has elected to not publically release the 300 or so submissions it has received as part of its public consultation. While many organisations (including the NTEU) have made their submission public, others such as the Business Council of Australia (BCA) have not. This is a departure from standard practice in relation to government inquiries, where organisations and individuals must request that their submissions be kept anonymous or confidential.
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NTEU concerns While NTEU’s own submission to the Commission focused primarily on higher education and research, we argued that the broad impact of public expenditure should be considered when determining the value of any public service, be it in education, health, welfare, defence, quarantine, climate, policing, human services, local government etc. The NTEU shares a widespread concern that the Commission of Audit’s predominant focus on cost cutting and privatisation, together with the absence of a community representative from civil society or from the trade unions, risks that the Commission will miss the broader, yet important, benefits bought via public investment.
Given the important role of the Commission and the potential impact of its recommendations, the shroud of secrecy, lack of transparency and non-existent opportunity to query and debate its recommendations is most alarming.
The Commission is tasked with reporting to Government in two phases: the first, due mid-February 2014, focused on public sector performance and accountability. The second, to be delivered in May, is designed to inform the Government’s considerations for the 2014–15 Budget.
While it is clear that the audit is a whole of government review and intended to provide vital advice on future public services and spending, it is not clear whether any areas are being specifically targeted. It is also unclear as to what extent expenditure cuts (as opposed to increases in revenue) are expected to contribute to the overall target of achieving a budget surplus of 1% of GDP prior to 2024.
The Commission is headed by Tony Shepherd, former President of the Business Council of Australia. Its members are drawn from big business interests and/or conservative politics: Dr Peter Boxall, Tony Cole, Robert Fisher and Amanda Vanstone. The Commission’s head of secretariat and economic adviser is conservative macro-economist Peter Crone.
It is hardly a blueprint to encourage public engagement, but rather reads as a preconceived, politically nuanced ‘to do’ list from the Government.
As noted earlier, another issue around transparency emerged when it was learned that the Commission’s reports would not be released publically, but instead the Commission would report directly to Government. It is therefore likely that the first the Australian public will hear of any of the Commission’s recommendations will be in the 2014 Federal Budget.
In October, the Federal Government announced the commencement of the National Commission of Audit, intended to be a whole of government review for the purpose of cutting expenditure and reducing the size of public service.
contained in its broad Terms of Reference (ToR). These stipulate that the Commission is to review the scope, efficiency, size and functions of the Commonwealth Government and, where appropriate, recommend cuts to jobs, services and outsourcing opportunities.
Commission of Audit: one-sided, secretive and political
Furthermore, we have great concerns over the Commission of Audit process and the political motives underpinning it. This risks not being a whole of government review but instead a mechanism by which a pro-big business, anti-government privatisation agenda can be pursued.
The ACTU, NTEU and other unions are currently formulating a campaign focusing on the Commission of Audit and the Government’s agenda to strip back and privatise public services and assets. With the involvement of union members and the broader community, the union movement believes now is the time to examine our values and what we want from a fair and equitable society, and the role that unions play in this. Ultimately, the purpose of this broad based, long term campaign is to build public support for an alternative economic vision for Australia and challenge the Government’s neo-conservative agenda. More information on this broad based campaign will be released shortly. Terri MacDonald, National Policy & Research Officer
Update NTEU Lecture 2013: Professor Marian Baird Professor Marian Baird, Professor of Employment Relations, Director of the Women and Work Research Group, University of Sydney Business School and a longstanding and active NTEU member, delivered the third annual NTEU Lecture to a packed theatre at the University of Technology, Sydney on 5 December. Her topic was ‘A Positive Tension: The Academic and Policy Debates.’ Professor Baird’s lecture examined the question of what is the role of the academic in contemporary Australia, and how should this role extend beyond the intellectual (and political) confines of teaching and research within the university? For Professor Baird, the issue is clear. ‘As a university lecturer and eventually professor, I believe I have an obligation to give back to the community. Not just in teaching students, but in a more active role that hopefully educates and influences beyond the lecture theatre.’ Challenging the notion of the university as the ivory tower divorced from the realities of contemporary life, Professor Baird’s view is that ‘universities are real worlds with real issues to contend with.’ They are the engine rooms of ideas and a space where people of different ages, religions and backgrounds interact in ‘wonderful social hubs emblematic of society, rather than being cut off from society.’ Professor Baird is an academic who tries to influence public policy debate and development, and engages in advocating for those who are trying to change and improve public policy. Her area of expertise over many years has been paid parental leave. A pioneer of the original round table on paid maternity leave in 2001, Professor Baird has contributed to parental leave enquiries conducted by the Human Rights Commission and the Productivity Commission, consulted on reviews of various iterations of industrial relations legislation and the
current Productivity Commission’s enquiry into child care. Professor Baird stressed the point that her and others’ research doesn’t occur in a political vacuum; moreover, academic researchers have a unique opportunity to contribute directly to political developments and real outcomes through their work. She argued that academics who contribute to these policy debates are part of a larger group, and that ‘it is the work of the collective, rather than the individual, that makes policy change happen.’ But in the real world of politics the contributions of academics are not always positively viewed or received. Professor Baird noted that, on the one hand, researchers are often criticised by policy makers for doing research that takes a long time and is poorly targeted and communicated. On the other hand, the research that is produced is not always well received by policy makers. She outlined the experiences of a group of researchers in which she was involved that analysed the potential effects of the changes on low paid women that were brought in by the Howard Government’s WorkChoices legislation. In a short few months, the research team produced state and federal reports that indicated that low paid women would be severely disadvantaged; they would have less job security, suffer reductions in pay and conditions, and have less say in determining their working lives. The research was immediately criticised by Howard Government ministers who attacked the researchers’ methodologies and tried to undermine their personal credibility. But as Professor Baird said, ‘As academics who value academic freedom it is also valuable for us to recognise and endorse this – that is, not to feel the need or pressure to produce academic research that fits with the government of the day.
The annual NTEU Lecture provides a public forum for eminent Australians to present unique perspectives on aspects of higher education and its impact on the economic, social and cultural frameworks of our society. Previous lectures have been given by Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb (2011) and leading playwright David Williamson AO (2012). If this means at times we disagree with public policy, then so be it.’ At the same time, this particular research attracted wide media coverage, and provided academic gravitas to the Your Rights At Work campaign. Unarguably, it was a significant component of the overwhelming community momentum that was built, which then swept the Howard Government out of office. Which brings us to Professor Baird’s final point, that unions are significant agents for positive social change in Australian public policy, and ‘can be the channels for the research we do.’ The campaign for paid maternity leave is a good example, particularly in the higher education sector. Professor Baird concluded that her experience has been a positive tension between her contribution to public policy debates and her teaching and research. ‘The workload has been high but the outcomes have been tangible.’ The 2014 NTEU Lecture will be delivered in the second half of the year. Michael Evans, National Organiser For further information and to read the full text of each Lecture: www.nteu.org.au/lecture
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Casuals News I know what you did last summer Most people look forward to the summer break. What’s not to love? There’s the beach, the Boxing Day Test and copious amounts of honey-glazed ham and vino to be consumed on Christmas Day. But for many casual academics the summer break can be a time of hardship and stress. From the first week of November to the first week of March, many casual academics must either find alternative employment or rely upon government welfare payments to simply make ends meet. Others find themselves drawing upon their savings or those of their partners and family. In a disturbing trend, many more are maxing out credit cards or taking high interest short-term personal loans to get through the break in employment.
sick pay or holiday pay and they receive half the superannuation of permanent staff. An enormous amount of unpaid work is expected to be performed by casuals ostensibly in the interest of furthering their own academic standing. It is not unusual to be ‘invited’ to deliver guest lectures on very short notice without a commensurate increase in pay.
Of course, a small number of casual academics are able to scrape together a modest salary by teaching a few hours per week of summer intensive classes. But in doing so most are only marginally better off than their colleagues who are receiving welfare payments.
It is the personal experiences of casual academics that reveal the insidious and negligent core of casual work.
It is the personal experiences of casual academics that reveal the insidious and negligent core of casual work. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to have next to no money to buy groceries at the local supermarket. Now imagine how the stress would be compounded if you had a partner and children to support.
University departments are also saving significant amounts of money by refusing to pay casuals who are required to attend staff meetings or complete compulsory online training modules. Class sizes are now so large that casual tutors and lecturers are swamped with emails from students and have to respond after their working hours have concluded.
Such accounts are not fabricated and they do not need embellishment. Too many casual academics find themselves barely surviving as they are suspended in a state of near constant poverty. It is the employment uncertainty confronting casual academics that is most distressing. Casuals are cheap and provide the flexibility craved by university management. They are paid by the hour and can have their working timetables changed at any moment. Indeed, most casuals nervously wait until just prior to the commencement of a semester to find out if they even have job! It doesn’t get much better for casuals when the conditions of employment are considered. Casuals do not have access to
All of the casual academics I know genuinely love their profession and go well beyond their position descriptions in order to assist their students. Recently, a number of colleagues of mine were even joking that the only time they could find to respond to student emails was during a sporting fixture at the MCG. Tragically, this uncertainty and insecurity is severely impacting the future plans and opportunities of casual academics. When the summer and mid-year breaks are taken into account, casual academics are often employed for no more than 26 weeks of the year; as a consequence many are struggling to secure finance to buy a home or are unable to meet mortgage
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repayments. In another disturbing phenomenon, it is by no means atypical to hear younger casual academics seriously question whether or not they can afford to start a family. It is also important to note that women are disproportionately represented in the cohort employed as casual academics and it is women who therefore are the most disadvantaged. After a decade of research training, and a history of peer-reviewed publications, many women are forced to leave academia due to the insecure nature of casual work and lack of access to paid maternity leave. These women simply have no choice but to change careers in pursuit of more permanent work. So, as you might now understand, the summer break for many casual academics is not much of a break at all. Permanent staff members enjoy a well deserved few weeks of leave while casual academics are staring down the barrel of an insecure working future. According to the latest data, the casualisation of our sector is increasing at a rapid rate and if we as a Union do nothing to address this situation then the future of tertiary education in Australia will be bleak. Union members employed as casual academics are passionate and hard working. They care deeply about their profession and want to see the very best for all academics. Will you support the most marginalised group of workers in our sector? Now is the time for action. Dustin Halse, Swinburne University Dustin (pictured above) teaches politics and history at Swinburne University and is a member of the Swinburne Institute for Social Research. He is an NTEU Branch Committee member and has a passion for organising casual academics.
Casuals News Ongoing jobs for sessionals won at Swinburne
ation meetings at the University. Given the words in the Agreement – which are difficult to enforce – and the traditional reluctance of the Commission to interfere in managerial prerogative, the eventual outcome was an extraordinary win for Swinburne Branch.
NTEU has held Swinburne University to account for relying far too heavily on casual and sessional staff.
Management were finally convinced they could no longer avoid remedial action and eventually agreed in settlement of the dispute to create fifty ongoing and fixed-term positions for sessional staff who had worked at Swinburne for more than four years.
The Swinburne Enterprise Agreement 2009 put a cap on casual employment, with a provision that the University would ‘use its best endeavours’ to reduce casual employment to 20% FTE over the life of the Agreement. By 2013, this figure was up to 32%. The NTEU lodged a dispute with the Fair Work Commission which was heard by Vice-President Catanzariti over several months. The Vice-President took a hands on approach, conducting many concili-
A measure of job security The battle to reduce long-term casual employment continues in bargaining with good outcomes at most universities. The NTEU’s Scholarly Teaching Fellow (STF) claim has a goal of providing on-going jobs for work previously done by casuals. Most of the 17 Agreements made so far include this proviso. Only the Melbourne University Agreement does not set a target, although the University and NTEU have agreed to a target of 60 new positions for the two forms of employment which will replace casual work, and to agree the detail of how this will work. The STF targets approximate 20% of the current casual employment within an enterprise. NTEU has so far achieved 402 STF positions for the sector. So what do these jobs look like? Each of the STF clauses provide for continuing work. Around half also provide for fixed term jobs, but most of these must fit into a current fixed term category. The majority have a salary scale of Level A- B
This defeat is one reason Swinburne are pushing to a non-union ballot on their draft Agreement which removes existing commitments to limit casual employment. Their original agreement to such a clause appears to have been contingent on the NTEU never being so crass as to seek to enforce it! Elizabeth McGrath, National Industrial Officer
(with many starting at A6- B2), and most provide for promotion. Where fixed-term, most STFs explicitly provide for the right to convert (after 3 years) and maximum teaching loads to provide time for scholarship and research. At some universities these provisions operate in conjunction with existing clauses aimed at reducing or capping casual employment. For example, the Swinburne University Agreement commits the University to not increasing ‘overall usage of casual staff’ above levels at a fixed date in 2009 (which were 21.5% of FTE at the time), and to concurrently attempt to reduce the number of FTE casual positions as a proportion of total academic staff by 1% over the life of the Agreement. The University of South Australia Agreement commits the University to limiting casual employment to 25% of its academic workforce. Many Agreements also include a conversion to on-going work clause and some provide facilities for casual staff – a provision we are seeking to extend throughout the sector. The NTEU encourages casual and noncasual members to assist in talking to sessional/casual staff within their workplaces, to sign them up and to spread the word on what the Union is doing to improve job security for workers in the sector. Susan Kenna, National Industrial Officer
National Insecure Work Conference Planning is currently underway for a national NTEU conference on insecure forms of employment in higher education. Higher education managers have responded to the government funding gap by short changing staff and students. The proportion and numbers of staff in precarious work – casual and contract just keeps increasing. Students are increasingly reliant upon the commitment of casual and contract, as well as ongoing, staff who are often giving excessive hours of voluntary labour as lecturers, tutors, demonstrators, lab technicians, librarians, education developers, student advisors, counsellors, administrators, HR officers etc. The pattern is that formerly ongoing academic and general staff positions are being abolished or casualised, which leaves people out of a job, a career and income while the remaining staff pick up the workload. Australia’s world renowned research effort is reliant upon researchers struggling from contract to contract, without any confidence in employment continuity and the opportunities to consolidate a career or make life choices. This conference will examine the professional and industrial impacts of insecure employment upon staff and the consequences for the ongoing quality of university teaching, research and engagement. The objective is to further develop the NTEU’s organising and industrial strategies and campaigns. The focus will be upon three groups of staff caught in precarious employment arrangements: academic casuals, researchers (academic and general) on limited term contracts and academic and general staff funded through ‘soft money’. Interested members are invited to join a reference group to advise the conference organisers. Contact the National President, Jeannie Rea at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Indigenous News WIPC:E 2014 An opportunity for international exchange This year’s World Indigenous People’s Conference in Education (WIPC:E) will be held in May in Hawai’i. Over the course of five days, this triennial global conference brings together some of the world’s foremost Indigenous educational practitioners to discuss the many issues impacting Indigenous research, the trials and tribulations of the various sectors and other things such as inclusive community learning spaces. WIPC:E also serves as a vital networking opportunity, as well as an amazing and completely unique cultural space. To see so many Indigenous cultures represented in the one spot and have the ability to experience these cultures is truly a gift. This year, the NTEU will deliver two papers at the conference. The first seminar NTEU will deliver will be based on the two reports we have released following Indigenous members’ surveys – I’m not a racist, but… and Whole-of-University’ Approach to Indigenous Student Support. They will draw specifically on racism, discrimination and lateral violence within the academy, as well as the mainstreaming agendas afoot at many campuses. The second seminar will feature a cross-union panel bringing together Indigenous representatives from the NTEU, New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Union (TEU) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) to discuss the many issues facing Indigenous union members on a regional scale.
Trans-Pacific Partnership a new threat to our sovereignty There are some concerns for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the current secret negotiation of a new free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Furthermore, there is the potential challenge to the ability to protect (as custodians of the land) the landscape and biodiversity and ward off attacks to the integrity of the environment that have been hard won, such as the Wild Rivers legislation in Far North Queensland. Sacred sites would also be at greater risk than they are currently. Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) would enable foreign investors the right to sue the Australian government for lost profits. Currently, El Salvador is being sued because the Indigenous population is opposing a gold mine that would pollute their water supply.
Accusations of loss of sovereignty by nation states have been raised as has the threat to everything from intellectual property to the pharmaceutical benefits schemes.
It has been said about TPP that ‘It’s not free, it’s not about trade and there isn’t much agreement on it’. One might add that it is also not fair and needs to be fought vigorously and urgently.
Of particular concern to Aboriginal people is the attack on intellectual property of a cultural nature and the loss of ownership and flow-on benefit from traditional medicines.
Terry Mason, Chair, Indigenous Policy Committee. Read more about the threat of the TPP on p. 29.
This seminar will be promoted to other unions sending delegates and it is our hope that from this an ongoing network of Indigenous higher education unionists can be established to foster exchange as well as set the groundwork for an Indigenous Caucus at Education International. The National Indigenous Unit looks forward to engaging with Indigenous union activists, as well as discussing Indigenous education on a global level. We also hope to see many NTEU members in attendance and look forward to touching base with you there. wipce2014.com
The most important trade negotiation you’ve never heard of The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a secret trade treaty that threatens your consumer rights. For more information visit www.choice.com.au/tellmemore
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John Pilger’s Utopia John Pilger’s latest film, Utopia, an important look at Indigenous Australia and the issue of sovereignty, was released locally in January. Not of public interest... Utopia, which was released initially in the UK to generally rave reviews, has had a great deal of trouble being picked up for screenings at most cinemas in this country. Some major cinema chains have expressed that Utopia is not of public interest or is too confronting and/or controversial for release with them. Therefore, it has been mostly reliant on activist groups and not-for-profit organisations holding community screenings to get its message out there. Screenings will be happening on SBS soon, and a few NTEU branches have shown preliminary interest in holding screenings for members and students, but it’s pretty safe to assume that the majority of Australians will not be seeing this film, despite the fact that they should. The reason why it is felt that Utopia is not of public interest is that it tells the story of Aboriginal Australia, drawing on historical facts and footage but showing some of the key issues as they are right now.
The hidden truth In creating Utopia, John Pilger has created a film that many Australians would prefer did not exist because it paints a picture so contrary to the ideals of egalitarianism and the ‘fair go for all’ that many feel are the cornerstones of this country. In fact, his material shows nothing new. Anyone who has some knowledge of the Aboriginal political situation in this country would have a reasonable grasp of the issues Pilger presents. The majority of people in this country, however, do not have real knowledge of the Indigenous political situation for a number of reasons
and therefore Utopia is unlikely to draw a mainstream crowd. Within the two hour film, Pilger covers a lot of ground. He explores Australia Day and the reinforcement of a hegemonic nationalist culture at the cost of acknowledgement of Indigenous dispossession. Pilger investigates deaths in custody and how these continue to occur despite the Royal Commission held 27 years ago. He looks at the extraordinary wealth in this country and juxtaposes this with the extreme poverty and lack of basic services found in many remote communities.
The Indigenous Policy Committee (IPC), in light of the fact that the NTEU has long recognised the right of First Peoples to assert sovereignty, both within the Union and externally, felt it was timely to reinforce the NTEU’s stance on Indigenous sovereignty and therefore takes the position that recognition of sovereign peoples who have never ceded that sovereignty needs to come first. This too is the final argument that Pilger makes within his film: that sovereignty needs to be recognised and a treaty needs to be negotiated. That due to the current state of play, policies affecting Indigenous lives are imposed rather than negotiated and this needs to change in order to create a fairer society.
Screenings for members The National Indigenous Unit and the IPC would like to encourage people to see Utopia at the limited community screenings being held around the country. Additionally, we would like Branches and Divisions to consider holding screenings for their members and students, giving them the opportunity to engage with the material and draw their own conclusions from it. Pilger investigates the ongoing conflict with regards to land rights, and how the interests of the mining industry tend to win out time and time again with little benefit going to first peoples. He examines years of failed policy or policy geared around acts of assimilation. In short: this is an incredibly dense film, and tells an ongoing story of dispossession, disparity and neglect.
Indigenous sovereignty At NTEU National Council in 2013, a motion of Indigenous sovereignty was passed. This motion was in response to the mounting Australian government campaign to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples recognised within the Constitution and was in recognition of the fact that at this point in time, this proposal has bipartisan support in the Australian parliament and there has therefore been little space to discuss the counterpoints to this proposal.
To this end, members of the National Indigenous Unit and the IPC are available to attend screenings and answer questions on the sovereignty motion and other stances that the National Indigenous Caucus has taken over the years. Should you be interested in organising a screening, please email email@example.com. Celeste Liddle, National Indigenous Organiser For further information on Utopia: utopiajohnpilger.co.uk To read a more in depth review on the film written by Celeste Liddle: tracker.org.au/2014/01/ Utopia-an-aboriginal-perspective More information about the NTEU’s Sovereignty motion is available in the November 2013 issue of Advocate: www.nteu.org.au/advocate
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Higher education and the age of uncertainty At 7.30pm on Tuesday 13 May 2014, Treasurer Joe Hockey will deliver the Abbott Government’s first Budget. While we do not know what impact the Budget will have on higher education, we do know that the Government’s general policy framework will be strongly influenced by the Commission of Audit and that those parts of the Budget that deal specifically with university funding will be shaped by the findings of the Kemp Norton Review of the Demand Driven Model (DDM).
While both the Commission of Audit and the Kemp Norton Review will have reported to the Commonwealth well before the Budget is delivered, the first the Australian public is likely to know about either is on Budget night. Based on public statements to date, however, neither is likely to recommend the significant increase in public funding per student that our universities desperately need. Higher education is not likely to be quarantined from any general cuts to government spending recommended by the Commission of Audit. We would expect the size of recommended cuts to go beyond the $2.3 billion in savings announced in April 2013.
Increasing fees Kemp and Norton might well let the Government off the hook if they recommend allowing universities to increase Commonwealth supported student place (CSP) contributions (HECS fees). When HECS was first introduced, students paid on average 20 per cent of the cost of their education; today this is 40 per cent.
Paul Kniest Policy & Research Coordinator
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Any recommendation to increase student fees without a matching increase in public investment will shift the burden even more heavily onto the shoulders of university students and their families. Regrettably, a number of universities and their peak bodies are actively promoting such a
change in the funding mix and advocating for a deregulation of HECS fees.
Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP), while minimising the very real risks associated with this greater contestability.
Any significant increases in student fees will make attending an Australian public university the most expensive in the While the DDM was only fully implementworld. However, an equally if not more ed in 2012, the Government’s intention to problematic outintroduce it togethcome of the DDM reer with transitional view is the prospect arrangements was Any significant increases that the Government announced in 2009. in student fees will make will adopt the very Therefore, in addilikely recommendation to the demonattending an Australian tion for CSP funding strably detrimental public university the most to be made more impacts of greater expensive in the world. contestable, and contestability in VET opened up to private funding on public non-university proTAFE colleges, the viders. transition to the DDM has also provided very strong clues as to the real risks of an We know that the open market approach open market in higher education. to Vocational Education and Training (VET) has been riddled with a myriad of One of the more significant threats of the fiscal and regulatory problems, including DDM is related to its fiscal or budgetary budget blowouts, false and misleading sustainability. The proposed $900 million advertising of courses and failure of some cut to university grants (efficiency diviproviders to meet minimum standards. dend) and conversion of student start-up In a recent article in The Australian, John scholarships to loans (saving an extra $1.2 Ross (‘VET in crisis as pressure mounts’, 15 billion) announced in April 2013 were a January) noted that Victoria ‘has seen nudirect response to a blowout in Commonmerous overhauls as the government tries wealth spending on higher education, to contain rorting and budget blowouts because of a larger than expected increase by rejigging market settings’. in Commonwealth supported enrolments.
Demand driven model In the NTEU’s submission to DDM we strongly argued against further deregulation and contestability of university funding, and proposed a ‘flexible but more coordinated approach’ to allocating university places. Our proposal was to use strengthened mission-based compacts and funding agreements to allow universities to pursue their own individual missions while giving the government a higher degree of certainty over the level and distribution of funding. This model would allow the community to enjoy all of the benefits (including increased participation by traditionally underrepresented groups) that might flow from the DDM in combination with policies, such as the Higher Education
There is also evidence to suggest that the increasing competition associated with the transition to and introduction of DDM has resulted in higher levels of uncertainty about future CSP loads. For example, while the growth in the number of CSPs has increased by about 25 per cent between 2008 and 2012, this varied significantly between universities, with growth being less than 10 per cent for ANU, UTS and UniSA, but more than 50 per cent at Swinburne, Macquarie and ACU. Notre Dame, the University of the Sunshine Coast and non-university providers also had very large increases, but it must be acknowledged this was from a very low base. Greater competition has resulted in significant shifts in CSP market share between universities, and such shifts will only become greater under a more contestable market model.
While the Government might argue that changing market share simply reflects students voting with their feet, NTEU would question whether students’ choices are based on better information or just superficial marketing and branding exercises which amount to little more than sloganeering (see article on university slogans, p. 34). If anyone doubts the possibility of misleading and or deceptive marketing practices in tertiary education in Australia, they only need to read an Australia Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) 2013 report entitled Marketing and advertising practices of Australia’s registered training organisation (see www.asqa.gov.au). For example, the report found that almost one in two (45%) of registered training organisations could be in breach of the nationally legislated standards required for registration with respect to their marketing and advertising. One of the more common breaches was providers claiming a student could complete a course in an unrealistic time.
DDM affect on casualisation However, from the NTEU’s point of view what is of greater importance is the impact the introduction of the DDM and any further deregulation will have on the nature of employment at our universities. Greater uncertainty leads to greater reliance on casual employment. This outcome is overwhelming demonstrated in Chart 1, which shows the reliance of casual employment since 2009. The rapid increase in reliance on casual employees since 2008 just happens to correspond to the announcement to introduce the DDM. The slight decrease in 2013 simply adds to the uncertainty. We must learn lessons from the impact that greater contestability of public funding has had on public TAFE colleges. Can we afford to have the viability of our internationally competitive universities undermined by a contestable funding system introduced on the basis of an unquestioned faith in the operation of markets, despite considerable empirical evidence to the contrary?
17% 16.6 16.2
16.0 15.7 15.1
Chart 1: Estimated casual FTE as share of total university workforce, Australian universities, 2001–2013 Source: Higher Education Selected Staff Data 2013 (Tables 1.3 and 1.4)
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Humanities & social science under attack
Photos: ‘The Past’ (above) and ‘The Future’ (opposite), National Archives, Washington DC, by D B King
The Abbott Government has announced it plans to redirect Australian Research Council (ARC) funding from ‘ridiculous’ research in the humanities and social science to research ‘on things that really matter.’
‘Redirecting’ funding The Australian Research Council (ARC) has a broad mission, as stated on its website: ‘to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community’. Its national competitive grants scheme supports high quality research, both fundamental and applied, ‘across all disciplines’, except for clinical medical and dental research, which are the province of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). In 2012–13, the ARC administered $879 million in national competitive grants (including around $530 million to 1168 Discovery grants, and $130 million to 267 Linkage grants). In December last year, the Abbott Government’s mid-financial year budget statement announced $103 million of funding for the ARC would be ‘redirected’ over four years, along with a cut of $10 million over four years to the Centres of Excellence program.
Andrew Bonnell Associate Professor in History, UQ President, NTEU Queensland Division
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The Government uses the weasel word ‘redirected’, rather than ‘cut’, specifying that some of the funding being cut from the ARC’s Discovery and Linkage programs will go to diabetes and dementia research: areas which fall under the remit of the NHMRC, rather than the ARC, so it is effectively a very substantial hit for fundamental and applied research to all disciplines except medical research.
Right vs wrong research This announcement was foreshadowed in September last year, during the election campaign, when a Coalition politician identified by sycophantic media as a ‘rising star’ attacked what he called ‘ridiculous’ and wasteful grants in the humanities, and the figure of $103 million was already specified. ‘We want research in Australia but we want it focused on things that really matter,’ the rising star stated. Topics singled out as supposedly ‘ridiculous’ included research into sexuality and Islam and a couple of projects in philosophy. The Coalition has form when it comes to attacking research in humanities and the social sciences. In 2004–05, the then Education Minister Brendan Nelson vetoed four Discovery grants in the only case of ministerial censorship of grants that has ever become public in Australia (so far). Nelson then appointed a committee of right-wing ideologues including the late Quadrant editor P P McGuinness to vet applications. After the Coalition attack on humanities grants in September 2013, Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Doherty recalled this episode, saying: I hope we’re not moving back to the Howard era where a committee of supremely unqualified people scrutinised ARC grant titles for ‘political correctness’, that is, in terms of the politics of the right. Back in the late 1980s, when the Coalition were in opposition, they set up a Waste Watch committee that also singled out humanities projects funded by the ARC for ridicule, including one on ‘Motherhood in Ancient Rome’. I could never understand why such a project was deemed self-evi-
dently ridiculous, especially by conservatives who claimed to esteem the Western cultural heritage and who insist on the importance of the family.
Culture Wars It would be easy to dismiss such attacks on the humanities and social sciences as philistine, because they obviously are. But that response might lead one to overlook the faux-populist political manoeuvre going on here. When a political party, like today’s Liberal Party, is essentially committed to making the richest one per cent even wealthier and more powerful, it needs to garner political support by pretending to sympathise with ordinary suburban voters, in this case by claiming to protect hardearned taxpayers’ dollars from supposedly self-indulgent intellectual and cultural elites. This was the logic behind the culture wars waged by the Howard Government, with the assistance of the Murdoch media. It is a political strategy copied from the US Republican Right, who have been successful in the past at advancing the interests of large and predatory corporate lobbies by addressing the cultural anxieties of the people whose very jobs are being destroyed in the process. It also reflects an increasingly ideologically-driven form of winner-takes-all politics, in which public spending is subject to a partisan spoils system. Public resources are to be redirected from academics (who are assumed to be left-leaning) and industries with unionised workers, and redistributed instead to the Coalition’s constituencies.
Trashing Australia’s reputation While cuts to humanities and social science research may thus have a limited degree of political logic behind them, they are clearly counter-productive in policy terms. They have the capacity to affect our universities’ precious international reputations, reducing Australian scholars’ capacity to engage in international conversations on disciplines which have been at the centre of universities’ life for centuries. At a time when the Government claims to be promoting engagement with Asia through a so-called ‘New Colombo Plan’, scholarly research on Asia will suffer, and with it our capacity to understand our region. At a time when the government claims to be promoting understanding of the Western tradition in schools, the living scholarly engagement with that tradition will be curtailed. And research into Australia’s own culture, history and society will be hampered. Disciplines such as philosophy are also, of course, valuable in themselves, not just on utilitarian grounds, but for what they tell us about the human condition. It is to be hoped that university vice-chancellors will start to speak out in their defence. In the meantime, the ARC is playing a dead bat to questions about the future funding of humanities disciplines, saying that all disciplines will continue to be able to apply for funding. But the pot is shrinking significantly, and either the current 20 per cent success rate for Discovery grant applications will get even lower, or the sums disbursed will shrink, or both. And then there is still the potential for ‘ministerial discretion’. Will Christopher Pyne be able to resist the temptation to act as an ideological censor?
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Is the ERA antithetical to intellectual freedom? A year after the release of the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) 2012 National Report, the Australian Research Council (ARC) is preparing for the 2015 ERA exercise, though clouds remain over the assessment of research impact, and whether it will still be a metric driven approach.
Based upon existing public debate, there appears to be fierce disagreement about the appropriate balance between metrics and peer review. From some quarters the assessment of impact is unnecessary unless buckets of funding are allocated through the assessment. At the start of 2014, draft ERA 2015 submission documents were made available for public comment, though the guidelines are currently bereft of any reference to the intended new measures of impact and engagement. Notably they also fail to reform or repudiate the kinds of institutional game-playing that the NTEU warned about in our 2013 report Impact of ERA Research Assessment on University Behaviour and their Staff. One of the NTEU recommendations was intended to address the fact that some administrators had been clearly empowered to designate, reallocate and hide research outputs without touching base with the relevant researchers. The complaint was that this was also leading to implications (often badly matched) in the way central finance units apportioned research funding.
Jen T Kwok Policy & Research Officer
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With the new draft guidelines, the failure to ensure that eligible researchers provide consent means the lack of transparency about these kinds of strategies will worsen.
Acil Allen Review If there is any policy development that reflects the NTEU’s ongoing concerns about university adaption to the ERA, it is the ARC-sponsored ERA Benefit’s Realisation Review which inadvertently confirmed that the ERA has been instrumental in modifying not only university behaviour but also conditions of employment. In what many might see as a direct response to the NTEU’s recommendations, this was an assessment, conducted by Acil Allen Consulting, on the benefits the ERA had generated for publicly-funded research in Australia. If you blinked at the end of 2013, you may have missed it. There were some fundamental problems with the Acil Allen Review. Even though it was about ‘benefits realisation’, and constantly repeated a mantra about ‘costs savings’ and ‘cost effectiveness’, it was unable to demonstrate an increase in the social rate of return, let alone the actual cost of the ERA to the ARC. A separate opinion piece by Professor Byrne stated that the ERA cost the ARC $43.5m for the trials and two full audits in 2010 and 2012 (and how much did it indirectly cost the sector?). Though positively portrayed by the ARC, the Review corroborates the NTEU’s concern that the ERA has influenced staff recruitment and retention. For instance, it states the ERA influenced recruitment decisions at three-quarters of universities, and that ERA results informed decisions about staff retention in over half. These kinds of decisions were typified by targeted academic redundancies at the University of Sydney in 2012, humanities and social sciences at La Trobe, and the music program at ANU. The ERA is portrayed throughout the Review as having an active role in changing the very nature of the academic employment relationship. Surveyed universities stated that ERA results were used in decisions relating to: • Staff performance (39%);
the anticipated performance of a staff member in an ERA assessment exercise is considered’ and that ‘the roll-out of a unified academic staff classifications and promotions policy in which research track record is of primary importance’. Many of these expectations sit outside the purview of collective agreements.
Who protects your intellectual freedom? On another note, the Review states that the ERA influenced the management and coordination of research activities, such as their longer term strategic planning process at 80 per cent of universities. Interestingly, this included the ‘discontinuance of areas of research activity’ at almost 78 per cent of institutions. How such measures can remain consistent with one of the strategic national aims of sustaining the breadth of research excellence is not clear. In fact, all that remains clear is that on matters of research management the ARC’s relationship with the sector is primarily guided by the desire to ‘focus research effort’ and ‘improve resource allocation’. This is how the ‘realisation of benefit’ is coded. These kinds of benefits are to be pursued whether or not they result in increased social rates of return, and irrespective of whether they damage either the autonomy or productivity of individual researchers. With these policy goals in mind, we can continue to expect a lack of respect for intellectual (or academic) freedom within the ERA process, within relevant ERA documentation, and in the changing employment conditions of staff. We would encourage more voices of members in public debate. If you would like to share your experiences around research performance expectations, please feel free to contact your Branch or the National Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jen T Kwok, Policy & Research Officer Download the Acil Allen Review at:
• Professional development (36%);
• Promotion (34%);
Download the 2013 NTEU report ‘Impact of ERA Research Assessment on University Behaviour and their Staff’ at:
• Remuneration (8%). Comments in the Review highlighted that ‘Staff recruitment and retention now involves an ERA component, where
Policy Advocacy website revamp The NTEU has revamped the policy area of our national website to make our vast range of policy resources more userfriendly to members. In the new Policy Advocacy area there are six sections covering areas of ongoing higher education policy work: Workforce Issues, Funding, Regulation and Governance, Learning and Teaching, Research and International Education. Each of these contains news about what’s happening in the sector, as well as issue-specific resources and dedicated information to assist members. For example, in the Workforce Issues section you will find information on intellectual freedom, workplace stress, casual and insecure work, and the professionalisation of general staff roles. In the Funding section you can learn how to understand your institution’s financial statements. In International Education you will find useful guides on offshore teaching. In the Research section you will find an in-depth IP FAQ guide, or more about the Defence Trade Controls Act. There are also two sections dedicated to outlining the breadth of member resources. In the Legislation and Submissions section you can browse chronologically through a list of NTEU submissions, or look for higher education legislation currently before parliament. In the Resources section you can find links to key organisations and higher education data sources. Considering that the employment conditions of Australian university staff are steered by the allocation of Commonwealth funding and a host of overlapping Commonwealth regulatory environments, the work of the NTEU depends upon its capacity to affect public policy on behalf of members’ interests. We are hoping that these resources make policy knowledge more readily available too. www.nteu.org.au/policy
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Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs
The more things change, the more they stay the same The announcement by the Abbott Government that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet would now be the new one-stop-shop for a range of previously departmentalised Indigenous funding programs, may be viewed as a progressive and necessary step for the achievement of the stated goals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs – but will the reality match the rhetoric or will tokenism continue to rein over substance?
In formalising this administrative change, it can only be assumed that the Government expects that the transfer of over $2 billion dollars of Indigenous specific funding from other departments and portfolios will see a much needed alignment and coordination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs. Will this truly be the case, or will the transfer of funding be used to create a wall of good intentions with no substance? How can we be confident that this model for Indigenous affairs does not simply play to a continuation of a flour, sugar and tea approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait issues? For too long now, governments of all persuasions have used Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs as a political football. In recent years the Indigenous community has been kicked through the unjustifiable actions taken as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (the Intervention), to (as the game progressed) handpassing the Indigenous community to the moral high ground of the Apology. If history is to be a guide, the record of the former Coalition Government cannot be held up as the benchmark for building better relations with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Should we be concerned?
Coalition’s track record Unfortunately, the two major achievements of the previous Coalition Government in Indigenous affairs were to dismantle the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in 2004, thereby destabilising Aboriginal affairs for the next three year period and, in 2007, introducing the Intervention.
Adam Frogley National Indigenous Officer
While ATSIC was not perfect, governments of the day do not necessarily act to put ideology to one-side to ensure the best outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In 2006, ANU Fel-
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low William Sanders, writing on the topic of Indigenous affairs after the Howard decade, said: Th(e) right for Indigenous peoples to be recognised as enduring political entities is something which Howard, individually, and the Howard Government more generally, has always had trouble accepting. The need to be seen to do ‘something’ in the Indigenous affairs portfolio during any government’s time in office is usually informed or overridden by pure ideology or changes in the political wind – the consequences are not always positive. As with any significant change in the Indigenous affairs or other portfolio areas, the usual explanations from the relevant government ministers seem to placate any concerns from the wider voting population. Without further thought and consideration, this new one-stop-shop approach will be touted as being the new ‘best practice’ and the most financially sound approach to ensure the gap is closed, the budget is adhered to and that ultimately Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will reap the benefits.
Defying colonisation The full title of William Sanders 2006 paper is ‘Indigenous affairs after the Howard decade: An administrative revolution while defying decolonisation’. I have chosen to highlight the sub-title of the paper as I feel that this description is entirely appropriate and describes in a very apt way, recent moves by the current Coalition Government. It is not reality to assume that a realignment of Indigenous funding will lead to better outcomes; it may be a first step, but it must not be the only step. This is where the new Coalition Government must break with their ideological tradition, but the likelihood of this occurring is, at best, unlikely.
Let me propose a scenario for you. For those fortunate to be born in this country, I can only assume that your family has and continues to live in the same manner that previous generations have. We all live under long-established law (or lore) and have particular customs and ways of doing business. We also have implemented time honoured ways of educating, healing and accommodating and caring for members of our society. How would you feel then, if tomorrow your way of life was immediately restricted and regulated, over and above that of other citizens? Imagine you and your family were instructed that you will now no longer live how you wish to live; you were restricted to living in an area deemed by authorities as prescribed; that you would no longer have total control of your income and that income would be managed in an ‘appropriate’ way. This is neither an imaginary scenario nor a fictional tale from a century ago; this is the way of life for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families today. To quote an oft used analogy, the more things change the more they stay the same.
Lessons of history Less than 50 years ago Indigenous peoples were considered part of the Flora and Fauna Act and, until 1962, had no rights to vote. Less than a century ago, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were confined to missions, settlements and reserves, where the blood rule of classification was pioneered. If you were deemed to be a half-caste (as it was then known), you were not only excluded from wider society, but you could no longer live with your family and extended family on that mission, settlement or reserve. Effectively, you were an outcast. Indigenous people have a long connection and history to this land. Conversely, many of the issues raised for consideration in the scenario occurred within my life-time and that of my mother and grandfather. The impact of invasion/settlement, racedbased policy development and exclusion is profound and something that resides not in the pages of history, but in the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – it is part of who we are. As members of a fair and just society, we need to acknowledge that these issues are the reality and to that extent, we must work to ensure this situation is corrected. As part of our journey together, we also need to acknowledge that while the progressive side of Australian politics has made an impact to the Indigenous affairs landscape in recent years, the Labor Party is not immune to the wind-sock approach to politics. Some may remember Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s speech at the Barunga Festival in 1988, at which he promised a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the life of that parliament. Over
the next few years the treaty promise was watered down to become reconciliation, and the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation (CAR) was formed. CAR’s mandate was to achieve reconciliation by the year 2000; fourteen years on, it is clear that we still have a long way to go to achieve that goal. Nineteen years after Hawke’s treaty promise, the election of the Rudd Government in 2007 was viewed as a new dawn for relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd led the charge, ratifying the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and, on 13 February 2008, delivering the historic Apology that recognised the hurt, pain, loss and suffering of the Stolen Generation. After 220 years it was long overdue. Unfortunately, the new dawn did not last long – in fact we barely hit morning tea before the symbolic rhetoric disappeared and the practical intentions of the Labor Government were made known.
The Apology & the Intervention Despite what appeared to be intentions to the contrary, the Rudd Government deemed it appropriate to continue the Howard Government’s Northern Territory Intervention, despite speaking out against it while in Opposition and highlighting the substantial ideological policy failures of the Coalition in Aboriginal affairs. At that time, the cynic in me reconsidered my view of the Apology, away from an historic occasion with real outcomes, to my view as it stands today – more rhetoric and a continuation of a long established tokenistic approach; but it got worse, not better. By twilight of the new dawn, instead of celebrating positive outcomes from the Apology, we were asking a series of different questions. In particular, why were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people singled out for income management and how were the COAG goals to Close the Gap going to be achieved? Moving forward to today we have seen little from the new dawn. Instead of walking down the path, we seem to have doubled back. Old topics of conversation are raising their head, including what version of history should be taught to the next generation – the true version or the palatable one? Here we go again…
Sovereignty vs recognition What I am keen to understand are answers to questions that will have impact on the lived experience of Indigenous peoples, including why do Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seem to encounter inordinate roadblocks preventing community from having an appropriately elected and funded body that can represent the interests of the Indigenous community? And why should the Aboriginal community accept with open arms their inclusion into what could be viewed as a document that established this country on the proposition of forced invasion/assimilation?
Exploring the second question, consider now the issues pertaining to constitutional recognition for Indigenous peoples. The current Government and Opposition advocate for inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into the Constitution. This may be achieved through inserting a paragraph or two detailing the fact there were people here prior to invasion/settlement, as well as replacing those race-based sections of the Constitution (Sections 25 and 51(xxvi)). Like others, I also have many questions pertaining to this vexed topic. Will constitutional recognition be achieved and what will this mean? If constitutional recognition is achieved, does this fit into the tokenistic or substantive basket and what happens next? And, finally, if achieved, will Australian society be willing to move to the next step in the process of healing and recognition: a treaty? Constitutional recognition is not a treaty; so from my perspective a question must again be asked: will constitutional recognition really be appropriate for the longterm benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture? I know that despite the best intentions, the outcome of any referendum will only ensure that a certain section of Australian voters get a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling, whilst ensuring those voters who don’t support constitutional recognition do not feel overly threatened by the whole thing. Some may say that a treaty is also not a cure all, just ask the Maori, but in terms of truly righting a wrong, the path to a treaty (although a much longer journey) may be more effective and productive than spending vast swathes of money on a referendum that, if agreed, will do little to improve the daily lives of Indigenous people. We tout ourselves to be a fair and just society, so we must move beyond an administrative revolution. Indigenous people will view this as pure tokenism that will do nothing to bring change to daily life.
Another dawn Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs is polemical and encapsulates a range of differing portfolio areas, that in the sphere of government would be administered by a single department. This announced re-alignment of Indigenous program funds and responsibility into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has now been implemented, yet as we head down the road toward another dawn I can only hope we have a clear understanding of the game we are in and what is needed to achieve ‘victory’. If we are confused at this point there is the potential that we may all end up playing the game of tokenism with the administrative revolution as the coach. Playing the game is one thing, but in attempting to kick goals, the well-worn game plan that relies on ideology as the motivator will no longer do.
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Academic s catt e r i ng The life of an untenured researcher A couple of years ago, I was gathering my things after a seminar at a top physics research institution when I overheard two senior professors discussing a candidate for a senior lectureship. Prof A was asking Prof B if the candidate had a partner, which might make him less able to move internationally. B replied happily, ‘No, he has no family. He’s perfect!’
I doubt any selection committee would admit on-record to thinking a family-free candidate is ‘perfect’. Nonetheless, the traditional academic career structure is built around an assumption of mobility that is hard to maintain with relationships or dependants. I’m still trying to figure out if I can manage to keep a pet. Right now I live in Melbourne, working as a postdoc. My first postdoc was in England. Before that I was in grad school in New Jersey, and an undergrad in my native California. Halfway through grad school I studied for a year in England. I’ve done two- or three-month stints in Japan, Germany, Australia and the UK. Each of these moves or visits has been, while not strictly required, extremely helpful for my career. And in a field where job competition is fierce, if you want any hope of landing that coveted permanent academic job, how many of these ‘helpful’ moves can you really consider optional? If mobility is such an advantage, how does having a family or a partner affect your chances?
Don’t have a baby
Katie Mack University of Melbourne
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A couple of months ago, Slate published an article with the headline, ‘Rule Number One for Female Academics: Don’t Have a Baby.’ The point of the article wasn’t actually to discourage women in academia from having children. The article provided statistics and anecdotes to illustrate how having children, or being suspected of
the intent to have children, could harm a woman’s progress in academia – from the necessary pause in research output, to the unconscious or explicit biases that act against ‘working mothers’ but have no similar effect on ‘working fathers’. Personally, I found the piece deeply disheartening, but my dismay was somewhat detached. In order to worry about the effects of having children, one has to be in a position where that seems like a remote possibility. As a single woman with a short-term contract and no idea which hemisphere I’ll be in two years from now, children are not exactly at the forefront of my mind. At the moment, I spend a lot more time thinking about the ‘two-body problem’, the problem of maintaining a committed relationship between two individuals who are trying to have careers in academia. When the two-body problem proves unsolvable, it’s sometimes called ‘academic scattering’. It is by no means unique to academia, but the international nature of the field, the frequency of short-term (1 to 3 year) contracts, and the low wages compared to other similarly intense career paths make it especially bad for academics. Of course, solving the two-body problem is not impossible. I have many colleagues who have done it, either through spousal hires, fortuitous job opportunities, extended long-distance relationships, or various degrees of compromise. But couples just beginning a relationship while building two academic careers might find the odds stacked against them. Academic careers are structurally best suited to people with no relationships or dependants, who travel light and have their passports at the ready.
The long and winding road For physics and astronomy, a ‘typical’ tenure-track career path looks something like this: 4–6 years in grad school, a postdoctoral fellowship for 1–3 years, then usually another (and maybe another), all followed by a tenure-track or permanent job, which may or may not be the job you end up in for the long-term. There’s no guarantee all these steps will be in the same country – very often they are not. For me, it’s been an international move every time so far, and it’s very possible the next one will be, too. When I took up my first postdoc, I left my country of origin, most of my worldly possessions, all my friends and family, and a committed relationship, to start all over in England. When I took up my second postdoc, I left my newly built life in England and another committed relationship to start all over yet again on the other side of the world. I’ve moved internationally several times chasing the prospect of permanent academic employment. I have yet to convince anyone to come with me. I’m not trying to convince anyone that avoiding academia or refusing to move
around the world is the key to solving all relationship problems. Anyone can be unlucky in love, even if they stay in the same city their entire lives. But academic shuffling is particularly hostile to romance. The short-term contracts mean that when you arrive in a new country, if you’re interested in finding a long-term partner you have something like two years to identify and convince a person you’ve just met to agree to follow you wherever you might end up in the world, and you won’t be able to tell them where that will be. If you happen to have different citizenships (which is likely), you have to take into account immigration issues as well – your partner may not be able to follow you without a spousal visa, which can mean a rather hasty life-long commitment, or, depending on the marriage laws of the country in question, a total impossibility. I had a friend in grad school who, at the end of her PhD, faced a choice between living with her wife in Canada, and becoming a tenure-track professor at one of the most prestigious research universities in the USA.
If you decide to prioritise where you want to be (or who you want to be with), one or the other partner will have to make a big career sacrifice, and gender norms will suggest that if you’re a woman, the one to make the sacrifice really ought to be you.
The timing doesn’t help, either. The postdoc stage, when you’re doing your best impersonation of a human pinball, usually comes about in your late 20s or early 30s. It’s a time when it seems like all your non-academic friends are buying houses, getting married, having babies, and generally living what looks like a regular grown-up life. Meanwhile, chances are you’re residing in a single room in a short-term rental, wondering which country you’ll be living in next year. If you’re a woman, you might be keeping an eye on the latest research on fertility in older mothers, and mentally calculating how long you actually need to know someone before deciding to reproduce with them, because by the time you’re in one place long enough to think about settling down you’ll be, at best, pushing 40.
The dating game There are lots of ways to make it all work out, of course. You could refuse to date other academics, and instead make sure you are spending enough time on hobbies outside of the university to attract someone’s interest, while making sure
you have a REALLY good pitch about the joy of imminent mystery relocation. You could date another academic, and resign yourself to a relationship that will probably be long-distance for far longer than it was ever face-to-face, with no guaranteed reunion in sight. You could swear off serious dating until you’re close to landing a permanent job, then negotiate with your future employer for a spousal hire, with the necessary career compromise that will be required of one or both of you to be at that institution. Or you could just wait till you’ve scored a permanent faculty job somewhere, probably in your mid-to-late 30s, and (if you’re a woman) hope that you meet someone soon enough that starting a family is still an option. If you decide to prioritise where you want to be (or who you want to be with), one or the other partner will have to make a big career sacrifice, and gender norms will suggest that if you’re a woman, the one to make the sacrifice really ought to be you. I confess I haven’t figured it out. I have two years left on my contract in Australia and no idea whatsoever which country I’ll end up in next. I’m applying broadly, and there’s no guarantee I’ll have a choice about location if I want to stay on the academic path. When it’s not unusual for a single postdoc job to have 300 applicants, and faculty jobs are even more selective, getting even one offer is considered a huge win. I don’t know if there’s a solution. Having a pool of early-career researchers who move frequently to different institutions unquestionably advances research and keeps the ideas flowing. It is also usually great for the development of post-docs’ research abilities, exposing them to new ideas and work styles. But the prospect of a nearly decade-long period of lifestyle limbo between graduate studies and the start of the tenure track is, understandably, a significant discouragement to many fine researchers who might otherwise bring their unique insights to the field. And, statistically, more of these lost researchers are likely to be women. It may not be the dominant force keeping women out of science or academia, and it may not affect all women, but any slight statistical skew that disadvantages women more than men contributes to the inequality we see. And that makes academia a little bit more lonely for everyone. Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) is a postdoctoral researcher in theoretical astrophysics with an interest in dark matter, black holes, the early universe and science communication. This article was originally published at The Research Whisperer (@researchwhisperer) where you’ll find this and many more quality articles: theresearchwhisperer.wordpress.com
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Dumb Cuts are still being pursued At the Universities Australia Conference in Canberra in February, Education Minister Christopher Pyne delivered a speech designed, no doubt, to be reassuring and downplay the sector’s concerns about the direction the Abbott Government is likely to take in the higher education sphere. ‘Freedom and autonomy will be the hallmarks of this Government’s approach to universities,’ he declared. Autonomy does not mean absence of accountability, the Minister reminded, nor does it prevent advice being given. However, this early in the Governments term it hard to properly gauge how genuine the Minister’s assurances can be treated. It was a speech that relied heavily on the track record of former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, with no less than 37 references to the Menzies and his government. This was in stark contrast to the five references to the current Prime Minster, Tony Abbott. It was a clear attempt to signal a return to a more traditional hands off role for government and to downplay the interventionist approach taken during the Howard years, where direct interference in university affairs became the norm. It was a speech that was reinforcing the message delivered last year at the same conference by the then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that his prospective govern-
ment would exhibit ‘masterly inactivity’ in the higher education arena. Since that speech, we have seen the new government commit to push through the $2.3 billion cuts first proposed and then opposed by the ALP before and after the election, respectively. But of the new Government’s own accord, they have so far introduced cuts to the Australian Research Council (see article, p. 20), implemented a return to ministerial oversight in the selection of grants, provided ‘friendly advice’ to the University of Sydney’s Vice-Chancellor to consider his institution’s reputation when deciding what to do with academics expressing unpopular views (see editorial, p. 2), and given further advice about more aggressively pursuing online education. It is little wonder that the Minister sought to calm the waters with an audience that had the memory of these actions, and of the last Coalition Government’s aggressive interventions. The Abbott Government has been trumpeting an end to the era of entitlement, while seeing off thousands of jobs in manufacturing and in Qantas. In the process, the people working in these jobs have themselves been blamed for the decline of their industries; they are apparently paid too much (most under $50,000 per year). At the same time, we are seeing further announcements about record company profits. The Government has been withdrawing from industry support, resulting in job losses being announced almost daily. Yet the higher education funding cuts are still being pursued. The Coalition had promised one million new jobs over the next five years, which one would think meant that the focus must surely be turning to skills development. Yet
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the higher education funding cuts are still being pursued. Calling on the history of the Menzies Government for the second last time in his speech, Minister Pyne stated that his Government would bring active support to the sector. Yet the higher education funding cuts are still being pursued. The campaigning priorities for the NTEU must be to continue oppose the ‘dumb cuts’. They are even dumber cuts now with the thousands of Australians needing to change their careers. The full implementation of the cuts is not yet guaranteed as there are legislative changes required to give effect to them. Labor and the Greens are currently holding them back, but the change in the Senate in July will create an uncertain dynamic. If we finally succeed in this effort, we will still have an underfunded university sector to fight for. The Union’s efforts will continue. Matthew McGowan, National Assistant Secretary
Trading away democracy Do you care about environmental protection, domestic manufacturing, ‘buy local’ campaigns, access to affordable health care and the right to know where and how your food is produced? If you do, you may be in for a very bad surprise. The Federal Government is in the process of ceding many of its powers to legislate on such public interest matters to multinational corporations during current free trade negotiations. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) has 29 chapters that reach into most sectors of the economy. With 12 Pacific Rim countries involved in the negotiations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam) the TPP captures some 40% of the world’s total output. The negotiating process and the draft agreement reflect a complete imbalance between corporate rights and the democratic rights of citizens. The TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors yet 605 corporate advisers are working closely with the US Trade Representative on the agreement, whereas public advocacy organisations the world over have been denied access to the text. Activists have been reduced to hanging out in the lobbies of buildings where negotiation rounds have taken place in the hope of catching snippets of information about its progress. The lack of transparency surrounding the TPP is deeply concerning as it is a deliberate ploy to frustrate public debate. A recent survey by the Australia Institute revealed that only 11% of Australians had heard of the TPP but ‘the majority, once informed of it, supported greater transpar-
ency and accountability in the negotiation process and had strong views on what should and should not be included.’ The little we know about the TPP has come through WikiLeaks, which, in the past six months, has released the draft Intellectual Property chapter, the draft Environment chapter and a partial snapshot of the then state of negotiations. In December 2013, the Government refused to provide the Australian Senate with access to the text of the draft agreement. It will only be made public when Cabinet signs the agreement, after which it cannot be amended. If Parliament passes the implementing legislation for the agreement, the TPP will then be ratified. Of particular concern is that Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are proposed for enforcement of the agreement. This means that foreign investors can sue governments in an international tribunal if a law or policy harms their investment. Disputes would be heard in secret by trade lawyers, outside of our domestic legal framework, and could lead to settlements in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. Future governments would be bound to the same conditions unless they are prepared to risk being sued without a right of appeal. Such provisions clearly undermine democratic governance and national sovereignty. Even the Howard Government rejected ISDS in trade agreements but the current Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, has made it clear that he is prepared to agree to its inclusion claiming that there will be certain public interest ‘carve outs’. His willingness to concede on this major issue appears to be due to pressure from Australian agribusiness, which is aggressively seeking further market access to the TPP trading partners. The vast scope of the agreement and the secrecy of the negotiations make it difficult to identify all of the potential risks to the public interest. To highlight just one issue of concern to many NTEU members, both as creators and users of intellectual property, is the potential repercussion if
the leaked intellectual property chapter of the TPP is adopted. Its provisions may directly impact upon the interpretation of exceptions to copyright legislation and what is considered to be fair use or dealings. It could be especially problematic for Australia if the TPP limits the implementation of any recommendation to amend copyright law contained in the Australian Law Reform Commission final report on Copyright and the Digital Economy which was released on 13 February 2014. A Ministerial meeting is scheduled for late-February where there will be pressure to wrap up the deal and have it signed off by April. However, US domestic politics may also be a factor in when the agreement is settled due to growing momentum in the campaign to oppose Trade Promotion Authority (also known as Fast Track) for President Barak Obama. Without Fast Track it is unlikely the TPP would pass, as politicians would be able to pick apart the agreement in the interest of domestic constituencies rather than being forced into a straight up or down vote on the final text. There is speculation that a vote on Fast Track will be deferred until after the November mid-term elections in order to protect vulnerable Democrats from an electoral backlash. Unions need to take a leading role in the campaign to expose the TPP to public scrutiny and step up pressure on the Australian government in the coming months before it trades our democracy away. Serena O’Meley, Industrial Organiser TPP Australia has set up an innovative online forum with academic experts and consumer rights advocates who are ready to answer your questions: www.tppaustralia.org The Conversation has created a ‘topic’ area on its website about the TPP which contains many excellent articles by Australian academics: theconversation.com/topics/tpp See also: Trans-Pacific Partnership a new threat to our sovereignty, p. 16.
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A Canadian cautionary tale for Australia
Photo: Ben Powless ©2012, www.flickr.com/photos/powless, via rabble.ca
The neo-conservative war on science In 2013, former Australian PM John Howard took the stage at a conference of conservatives in Ottawa. ‘Can I start by saying you have no reason to be concerned about the state of conservatism in this country,’ he told the crowd. ‘I can’t find a better conservative leader anywhere in the world than [Canadian PM] Stephen Harper. I really can’t.’
Terri MacDonald Policy & Research Officer
It’s well known that Howard was close to Harper. Leaving aside the infamous plagiarising debacle (whereby a Harper’s staffer copied a 2003 Howard speech verbatim), there exists a sense of commonality between the Australian and Canadian conservatives that extends beyond a Commonwealth-centric neoliberal ideology. Indeed, in a 2006 article, ‘Harper’s Aussie Advisor’, Richard Warnica reported that Harper’s campaign team borrowed ideas and were advised by Howard’s own political advisers. Harper’s political strategic planner, Patrick Muttart, studied Howard’s ability to covet the working and middle-class, adapting it to eventual success. Following the demise of the Howard Government in 2007, a number of conservative Australian policy strategists found refuge in a range of portfolio areas within Harper’s new conservative government. Skipping forward to 2013, and there have already been comparisons drawn between Abbott and Harper. Both studied economics, both are relatively young (in their fifties), and both grew into leaders after long-term grassroots apprenticeships in conservatism. Just as easily linked are the messaging strategies borne from continued and very close relationship between the Canadian Conservative and the Australian Liberal parties. Abbott’s election night promise of guaranteeing a government ‘that is competent, that is
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trustworthy, and which purposefully and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments,’ is not dissimilar to Harper’s promise of a ‘strong, stable, national Conservative majority government.’
Effect on climate policy The Guardian reported that the Australian Liberals have recently turned to Harper and his team for guidance on a range of policy areas, such as climate change and environmental management. Indeed, late in 2013, Harper’s party issued a gushing statement of support commending Abbott on the move to the scrap the carbon tax, with Paul Calandra, Parliamentary Secretary to Canadian Prime Minister, stating: Canada applauds the decision by Prime Minister (Tony) Abbott to introduce legislation to repeal Australia’s carbon tax. The Australian Prime Minister’s decision will be noticed around the world and sends an important message ... Our government knows that carbon taxes raise the price of everything, including gas, groceries, and electricity. It is already easy to see the results of what appears to be a close working relationship in matters of policy between the two conservative parties. In November 2013, Canada and Australia were jointly responsible for blocking a Commonwealth initiative to establish a climate fund for poor nations in
the developing world, effectively denying them a path to low-carbon development. Both Harper and Abbott have positioned themselves politically in the hands of big business, with Harper attempting to rebrand Canada as an energy superpower, and Abbott recently stating his vision of Australia as the ‘affordable energy capital of the world’ .
How will Australia fare?
Since his Government’s election last September, Abbott has abolished Australia’s publicly-funded Climate Commission, repeated his ‘blood oath’ to scrap the carbon price legislation and continued with attempts to end the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
So the answer to the original question, can what has happened in Canada happen here? In many respects, it already is. The more important question is (if we are to take what has happened in Canada as a virtual crystal ball) what is in store for us here in ten years time?
Both governments are intent on focussing on the expansion of the resource extraction industries and in the interests of corporate energy giants, promoting publicly funded research into projects that support these industries (while at the same time, withdrawing public funding for renewable energy research and seeking to axe renewable energy targets).
His Government has green-lighted the dumping of dredge soil from the Abbot Point coal expansion in the Great Barrier Reef Marine park, is attempting to remove 74,000ha of old growth forests in Tasmania from UNESCO’s World Heritage listing (less than a year after it was approved), has defunded the Environmental Defenders Office (a network of community legal centres providing free advice on environmental law), is in the process of dismantling Australia’s world leading marine protection system, scrapped the COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water (while overturning the ‘critically endangered’ listing of the Murray Darling Basin), and is attempting to wind back ‘green tape’ environmental protection legislation (including effectively downgrading natural environment legislation by giving approval powers to the states).
Canada’s own Science, Technology and Innovation Council found that, between 2007 and 2013, Canada had dropped in rank from 16th to 23rd in public expenditure on research and development relative to GDP compared to other economically developed countries and worsened its performance on a wide range of science and innovation fronts. But there has been far more broad spread damage done to Canada though the systematic dismantling of scientific institutions and practices. While Canadian scientists and researchers have been driven to public protest, it is by no means certain that Harper’s Government will lose the next election and that a new government will restore the integrity and independence of Canada’s scientists and researchers. Even in a best case situation, it will take time and great political will to rebuild – it is far easier to tear down than to restore.
Not surprisingly, an examination of Harper’s public policy record reveals much about where Abbott is likely to go, either intentionally or by virtue of having a similar political dogma. While Abbott’s decision to remove the post of Science Minister from his government – the first time since the creation of the portfolio in 1931– sent alarm bells ringing for the science and research sector here, Harper had already set a precedent when he abolished the position of National Science Adviser in 2008, a role that created an important link between scientists and political leaders. Indeed, since his election in 2006, Harper’s war on science has included weakened or abolished environmental protections, funding cutbacks that have closed scientific labs, science and environmental libraries, and staffing reductions in key scientific organisations. This includes the potential shutdown of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a research station that produced critical evidence to help stop acid rain. By February 2012, only five of Canada’s ten LiDAR (light detection and ranging) observation stations, which had been conducting weekly ozone and fossil fuel pollution measurements since 1966, were still in operation. This followed the removal of Canada’s CORALnet website which distributed crucial ozone and pollution data to research laboratories and scientific organisations across the globe. Cuts to environmental research funding were followed by Harper’s anti-science Omnibus Budget Bill C-38 in June 2012. The Bill effectively cut funding to, dismantled, or weakened 13 environmental bodies or pieces of legislation, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and Agency, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Energy Board Act, Canadian Oil and Gas Operations Act, Parks Canada Agency Act and the Nuclear Safety Control Act. In addition, the Bill granted funding to investigate the charitable status of environmental groups while water programs, wastewater surveys and emissions monitoring programs were cut.
Further cuts are likely as a result of the artificially inflated austerity measures to be undertaken in the 2014 Budget and through recommendations of the Government’s Commission of Audit.
Veil of secrecy Leaving aside the legislative and funding cuts, both Abbott and Harper have attempted to restrict media access to government staff and information. While there has been media outrage here in Australia regarding directives to both Ministers and government officials requiring clearance from the Prime Minister’s office before speaking to media, Harper has gone much further. In 2007, the Harper Government established new protocols restricting Environment Canada scientists’ interactions with the media and requiring government approval to speak publically. A leaked internal Environment Canada document revealed the new policy had reduced the department’s engagement with media on climate change by 80 per cent. That same document also revealed employees felt the intended purpose was to silence climate scientists.
Loss of science positions Finally, there is the removal of environment and science positions in Government departments and publically funded organisations; in August 2011, the Canadian Government announced 700 Environment Canada positions would be terminated in order to pursue ‘government-wide fiscal restraint.’ In Australia, the Government has signalled cuts of up to 600 jobs at CSIRO via a hiring freeze that bans the renewal of contract and temporary positions.
There is a relationship between science and democracy; science and research is integral in our ability to knowledgably engage with the natural world. In other words, scientists act as interpreters for the natural world, revealing vital facts that we simply would not know otherwise. Thus, where scientists are muzzled and public funding restricted or withdrawn, neither the public nor political leaders have sufficient knowledge to make informed decisions. Indeed, public policy becomes an exercise in ideology and political game playing. Yet, a functioning democracy relies upon the interplay of fact, rationality, and a well-informed public. Political leaders should be making public policy decisions based on robust evidence that is precise, clear, and informative. The unimpeded application of science and research, and the evidence-based discourse it enables, is essential to democracy. Conversely, the suppression of science leads to the suppression of the democracy, and all become blind. This article explores the issues raised at a recent NTEU Victorian Division Seminar when David Robinson from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) spoke on the ‘War on Science’ being waged by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on higher education and research. It reinforced the strong concerns of those watching the Australian Government’s change to a neo-conservative policy agenda.
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UK higher education
Abolishing caps by selling off debt In a surprise announcement late last year, the UK Government declared its intention to remove enrolment caps. However, the University and College Union (UCU) has focused upon how the extra places will be funded. The UCU warns that using the sale of the student debt to fund more student places, while encouraging more students to take on debt through a loan scheme that is widely recognised to entail huge public costs, looks like an unsustainable, short-term fix designed to create good headlines. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said ‘Using the proceeds from the privatisation of student loans to pay for extra student places is a classic example of robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ ‘While expanding student numbers is vital to our country’s social and economic future, what universities need is a long-term, sustainable plan built on the kind of public
investment that our global rivals take for granted.’ The Government’s plan is to fund the scheme by selling off the last of the ‘student loan book’, which like the Australian HECS debt is the funds owing on their income contingent student loan scheme. Thirty thousand new student places will be funded in the next financial year, and the caps removed the following year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Osborne, argued that there are still about 60,000 young people missing out on university places each year because of an ‘arbitrary cap’. He was confident that these potential students are prepared to take out a loan to pay for university. With the rapid increase in student fees and living expenses and consequent decline in enrolments attributed to the costs of university education, this may not be the case. Osborne said ‘Access to education is a basic tenet of economic success in the global race’. He noted that the UK now has a lower proportion of students in university compared to the US and much lower than South Korea. (Australia sits within a cluster of northern European counties and the US.) While appreciating the objective of increasing and diversifying the proportion of UK graduates, university commentators have expressed concern about increasing numbers at the expense
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of quality particularly without more funding. They are also concerned about the softness of the UK and European graduate job market. The sell-off has run into controversy with financial commentators noting that the proposed sale does not look as lucrative as predicted. Labour has challenged the Government on where the money would come from for the uncapped places. Student groups had already criticised the Government on a previous sale of a student loans book with a face value of £890 million for just £160 million last November. The Guardian noted that the subject of government asset sales is particularly sensitive after the Tories were criticised by Labour for ‘botching’ the stock market flotation of Royal Mail. The company’s shares are now trading at 70% above their sale price. Osborne has now conceded that the sale of the student loan book will not be able to fund the new places. Jeannie Rea, National President The NTEU contributed to a recent feature on the Australian experience, ‘Lifting the cap: can more mean better too?’ in the Times Higher Education (UK), 23 January 2014, pp 38-9. www.nteu.org.au/article/Universityfunding-15845
International Women’s Day
It’s more than just morning tea International Women’s Day (IWD) is more than morning teas, empty speeches from managers about valuing their women staff, and media editors righteously telling Australian women to stop whingeing and look at how good they have got it compared to women in Afghanistan. IWD did not start on 8 March 1975 as a bureaucratic declaration of the United Nations’ International Women’s Year. International Women’s Day, as the UN itself notes, ‘first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.’ The first National Women’s Day was observed in the USA on 28 February 1909. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honour of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York. In 1910, the Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen with delegates from 17 countries including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, proposed an international day to support the movement for women’s rights and universal suffrage. Consequently, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded women’s rights to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job. During the First World War, IWD became a focus to protest the war. In 1917 women in Russia protested and striked for ‘Bread and Peace’ on the last Sunday in February
(which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. Since 1975, IWD has been mainstreamed, not in the usual sense of knocking gender out, but in ignoring that women’s working rights underpin the celebrations and struggles.
Bluestocking Week In reviving Bluestocking Week two years ago, the NTEU and NUS pointed to the need to once again make space on university campuses to both celebrate women’s achievements in higher education, and to mobilise around current and ongoing issues from safety on campus, to employment equity, to solidarity with women around the world. Bluestocking Week events in 2012 and 2013 focussed not only upon women’s rights to higher education, but also how and what we learn and research. Class, race, sexuality, age and other aspects of identity have been the focus of activities with a significant consciousness of not talking about firsts for women without acknowledging their specific contexts. For example, the first white and first Indigenous women graduates were both from the University of Melbourne, but 75 years apart (Bella Guerin in 1884 and Margot Weir in 1959). There has been some debate about whether recognising and celebrating the Bluestockings, the first generations of university women, is blind to the privilege of those women who were able to study at the elite universities of the past. This deserves further interrogation as it was (and is) a privilege to go to university and it opens up opportunities denied to others. However, it should not be assumed that the Bluestockings just took their good fortune for granted. Reading the histories of the Bluestockings in Australia and England reveal many that women from not so privileged backgrounds were supported by their communities to go to university with the expectation that they would give back as teachers, scientists, doctors and
other useful professions. Many of those early Bluestockings were not looking to a life of luxury and privilege (like too many of the men). If they wanted to – and most were expected to – pursue a career they had to make hard choices about marriage and motherhood. They had to work for half the pay of men and they often could not get a start or promotion, including as academics. It is not at all surprising that most of the Victorian Government doctors through the first half of the 20th century were women. Without connections and supporters women could not get a start in private practice or even a hospital career. By the end of the 19th century, though, there were enough women doctors to found, with shilling donations of the women of Victoria, the Queen Victoria Hospital – a hospital by and for women. The Bluestockings repeatedly spoke of recognising their good fortune and the need to give back to their communities. Some were campaigners for children’s and women rights to health, housing and education, and they number amongst the white advocates for Aboriginal and immigrant rights. Bluestocking Week 2014 will be celebrated on 11–15 August. Contact your Branch for details and to suggest events. Meanwhile I hope that women’s working rights are the focus of IWD in your workplace. Jeannie Rea, National President www.nteu.org.au/women/ bluestockingweek
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Do marketing slogans assist choice of university? The latest university financial reports show that in 2012 Australian universities spent $230m on advertising and promotional activities, which represented about 1 per cent of total income for the sector. We used institutional branding slogans to determine whether this significant expenditure has resulted in providing students with better information when making decisions about where to study.
When recommending the introduction of a demand driven model (DDM) the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education (2008) concluded that: In such a system, choice, underpinned by good information and stronger quality assurance, will drive both a higher quality student experience and institutional diversity. In the NTEU’s submission to the Kemp Norton Review of the DDM, we questioned whether a DDM would create real institutional diversity and greater student choice, or result in superficial attempts at institutional differentiation through branding and advertising. To test the hypothesis, we have used university brand ‘slogan’ as a high level filter – slogans are central to institutional marketing, and thus likely to have an influence on a student’s decision making process.
Paul Kniest Policy & Research Coordinator
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While students wishing to study history might be put off by the number of universities with slogans emphasising the future, those students with an economics bent may be encouraged by the fact that universities understand that choosing what to study and where to study is one of biggest investment decisions most people will make in their lifetimes.
Management at Australia’s newest university, Federation University, decided to boldly go (sorry about the split infinitive) with the slogan, Your future has a new name. And that name is FU. Swinburne’s Think forward slogan also gives a blatant FU (sorry for mixing my abbreviations) to historians, but for many potential students it must also raise the very real possibility of this institution not learning lessons from the past, like considering what the impact of closing campuses might have on some students and communities. Edith Cowan’s slogan must be promoting its research into the anti-ageing gene or its human genetics major with its slogan, The future you. If not, it is just reminding potential students of a fatter, greyer version of their future selves. Macquarie (in what might be an act of ambush marketing) is encouraging its students to own and be proud of this feeble future by inviting them to Frame their futures. Curtin University wants to Make tomorrow better but according to the University of Tasmania Tomorrow starts today. Taken together these clearly create a temporal paradox. If tomorrow starts
today then students at Curtin University who want to make tomorrow better would have to travel back in time by one day every 24 hours. On that reckoning Curtin students would never graduate and they would accumulate a HECS debt the size of the universe. Students wanting to attend UTAS need to be warned that they must always submit their assignments one day early to avoid penalties for being late.
At the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), the Own the future slogan is sending a strong signal to potential students that UTS has really become the ultimate corporate university. The University of Queensland’s Your advantage slogan also has corporate undertones. UQ has been the beneficiary of numerous donations from US businessman and philanthropist Chuck Feeney, whose generosity to UQ was facilitated by former Australian tennis player Ken Fletcher. Game, set and more donations. It is also worth asking whether RMIT has any association with IKEA based on its Self made slogan.
UNSW has decided to take a scatter gun approach to attracting students. On UNSW’s postgraduate business pages, students are being encouraged to enrol if they want to be The cat in the rat race. This is a strange marketing strategy for a university because we all know what killed the cat. Therefore, someone with a UNSW MBA needs to be very careful of graduates from Charles Sturt where Curiosity challenges thinking.
Monash University is obviously promoting humility as an important attribute of its students with its understated Where brilliance begins slogan. The University of Western Australia’s Achieve international excellence is equally modest. CQU’s Be what you want to be might be problematic for some aspiring to be a lion tamer. It would be inappropriate to finish this article without making special mention of Deakin University’s much publicised Worldly slogan. The $17.2 million Deakin spent on advertising and promotion in 2012 was the highest in the sector. This tells students that less is more and that succinctness is valued at Deakin. To come back to our original question, has the opening up of our universities to greater competition resulted in better information for potential students or the public about what universities offer, how they are different and why you should study there? Or has greater competition amongst our universities resulted in little more than attempts by universities to differentiate themselves on the basis of superficial branding and marketing?
All images sourced from university websites.
La Trobe University’s Future ready slogan is neither original nor unique. It is shared by a number of other organisations including Australia Post and the Future Ready Dairy System. Therefore, is La Trobe promising to deliver all of its courses on time, or just milking every cent out of its marketing dollar?
NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 35
News from the Net Pat Wright
A tail of two BNs The National Broadband Network (NBN) proposed by the former Labor Government was one of the world’s biggest infrastructure projects, aiming to provide a new digital data network of optical fibre to the (home or business) premises (FTTP) across the nation. The NBN was to be completed by 2021 at a total cost of $44.1 billion and provide 93 per cent of the population with download speeds up to 1,000Mbps (1Gbps) and upload speeds of 400Mbps. The Coalition’s Broadband Network (CBN) policy at the 2013 federal election was to cobble together a multi-technology mix (MTM) daisy-chain of existing copper telephone and cable television networks with a new, smaller optical fibre to the node (FTTN) network to upgrade the digital data network across the country. The CBN was to be running by 2019 at a cost of only $29.5 billion and provide 91 per cent of the population with download speeds of 50Mbps and upload speeds 10Mbps. The two proposals are poles apart. Labor’s NBN is a nation-building vision of the future, somewhat akin to the first electricity networks, designed to provide electric light but amenable to support a vast range of electrical appliances unenvisaged at the time of their construction. The CBN is a worthy extension of the existing system, an improvement on Abbott’s 2010 plan to scrap the NBN, but hardly visionary. It will be cheaper by a third – at least until 2019, after which continuing costs of maintaining the copper network will make it ultimately more expensive. It will be ready sooner – if one accepts its much lower standard of readiness. And it will be faster than the real NBN would have been – for
some people in 2019 who would have still been waiting for the real NBN. So, the CBN would cost only two-thirds as much as the NBN, and provide 1/20th of its download speed (but probably enough to download a movie, on a good day) and 1/40th of its upload speed (but you probably won’t want to upload much, anyway, Malcolm says). The slow upload speed suits the big media moguls, who can continue to cash in on flogging consumer content to us relatively quickly, but not worry too much about product competition from those pesky creative small-business innovators. Given the slow upload speed, we can probably forget about videoconferencing that extra tutorial from our home offices, and certainly forget our GP sharing her diagnosis of our X-rays with that specialist in real time for a decade or so. When the Coalition came to power, Communications Minister Turnbull ‘refreshed’ the membership of the now mis-named NBN Co board of directors, installed Howard-era Telstra chief, Ziggy Switkowski, as Executive Chair, and commissioned private consultants to conduct a strategic review of the NBN roll-out. Surprise, surprise, it found that the Labor plan now would have cost $73 billion and, according to Turnbull, take 20 years to complete. It also found that the CBN now will cost $41 billion (though government expenditure remains capped at the original $29.5 billion – the rest hopefully to come from private sector investment) and that the target download speed of 50Mbps for all now will not be reached until 2020. The major problem with the CBN’s MTM network is the huge number of junction boxes, or kerbside cabinets, where the speed of the optic fibre is choked down to switch to copper telephone wire or television cable (where available). Not only will this slow down the whole network, but also it will greatly diminish network reliability, particularly for those on the tailend of a copper wire, and will consume as much electric power as the City of Launceston. Copper corrodes, especially when water gets in to Telstra’s pits and pipes, and performance degrades the longer the copper wire has to travel from the exchange – that’s why FTTN needs hundreds of thousands of kerbside cabinets polluting the suburban landscape. Even high-grade copper wire, well-maintained in underground conduits, has to
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be replaced every ten years or so, and will be unable to cope with demand beyond 2025, so the CBN’s FTTN network should be considered a work-in-progress beyond 2019 with continuing costs, rather than a completed project, whereas the aborted FTTP network would have had a capital value of $240 billion by 2025, industry experts claim. Since the optic fibre cable in an FTTN network is different from the optic fibre cable in an FTTP network, it is extremely wasteful in the long term to persist with an FTTN roll-out – as Germany, the UK and New Zealand are finding to their cost, as they gradually replace their FTTN networks with FTTP networks. With any luck, the current wave of senior executives resigning from NBN Co will continue, the FTTN roll-out will suffer further delays and debacles, and it won’t be too great a future-proofing leap-frog to rip out the FTTN cable and replace it with FTTP cable. Whether this occurs under the current Federal Government or the next probably depends on whether Minister Turnbull sees the project as an albatross or a launching-pad. As the voting public become more aware of the enormity of what they have done, Minister Turnbull can vaingloriously toe Abbott’s party line and lose all leadership credibility (as his PM no doubt hopes), or find good reason to prioritise the roll-out of the 24 per cent of the CBN which is FTTP to greenfield sites such as new housing developments, ‘discover’ cheaper ways to roll out FTTP, such as clipping optic fibre to overhead power lines, and campaign on a new, improved NBN platform for a return to the leadership late in the term, rather like Rudd. Meanwhile, you can help speed up the process by joining Friends of the National Broadband Network on Facebook, and support the March in March against the depredations of the Abbott Government. Pat Wright is Director of the Centre for Labour Research at the University of Adelaide. email@example.com Friends of the National Broadband Network www.facebook.com/FriendsOf TheNationalBroadbandNetwork March in March www.facebook.com/marchinmarch
Lowering the Boom Ian Lowe
The Great Leap Backwards It is hard to imagine how a shiny new government with a massive mandate could so thoroughly alienate so much of the community in so short a time. Those of us who live in Queensland had a preview when the Newman Government was elected; they effected what I called The Great Leap Backwards, emulating Mao Zedong by arbitrary policies that undid 25 years of progress from the bad old days of the Bjelke-Petersen Government, a time when airline pilots sometimes advised passengers landing in Brisbane to turn their watches back 20 years. Now, the Abbott Government is emulating this dismal example at the national level.
That is nonsense; the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirms that the economy has been booming while almost all significant environmental indicators are going south. With legal challenges pending to the approval of contentious projects in Queensland, the Government is trying to shift the goal posts by changing the law to give retrospective justification for the Minister’s decisions. With the previous government proclaiming the world’s largest network of marine protected areas, the Abbott team sneaked through a revoking of the management plans in the holiday season, effectively undoing the protection of the ocean species. While those sorts of policies might have been expected, it was less obvious that the new government would attack new technologies. Though they are saying that hard choices have to be made about public spending, they are proposing to waste money on an inquiry into the health impacts of wind turbines. Several studies, most recently one by the NHMRC, have shown that there are no significant health problems associated with wind power – although there is evidence that people can be persuaded that the aches and pains of everyday life are due to nearby developments, just as the placebo effect can persuade people that their ills are cured by tablets with no active pharmaceutical ingredients. What the recent announcements about climate change and clean energy make clear is that there is a much more worrying theme behind the Government’s approach. It is nothing less than an attack on science.
Nobody would have been surprised by a Coalition Government attacking workers in general and unions in particular. Every corporate failure is blamed on unreasonable pay and conditions, by Ministers enjoying six-figure salaries and generous expenses. The only deficiency of managers is their unacceptable generosity to their workers.
Where the legislation establishing the Renewable Energy Target required a review in 2014 by the Climate Change Authority to determine if the target is a sufficient response in the light of the latest science, the Government has decided to instead have the review conducted by business interests with no scientific credentials. The review is to be chaired by a company director who told ABC radio that he doesn’t believe that carbon dioxide produced by humans is the main cause of climate change!
Perhaps equally predictable has been the attack on environmental protection. The campaign against ‘green tape’ is predicated on the assumption that the outrageous level of environmental standards is holding back economic development.
The terms of reference for the review require it to examine the impact of the target on electricity prices – a waste of time and effort, since independent studies have shown that the need to use more expensive renewable energy contributes
about 3–4 per cent of the price of power, depending on which state you live. The Government also, remarkably, asked the review to consider how the target reduces costs for business. That is as silly as asking how paying tax reduces costs for business. The bottom line is that the Abbott Government is driven by a simplistic ideology, with clear central myths: the economy is paramount, economic growth is essential, government should allow market forces to prevail, economic might is right. From the standpoint of this ideology, science provides very inconvenient truths. The climate is being changed by human activity, principally the burning of fossil fuels. Biodiversity is being lost at a frightening rate. Most of the significant environmental indicators for Australia show that the activity of the present population is degrading natural systems, but the Government persists in encouraging a population growth rate more like that of a desperately poor country than an advanced nation. If there is a conflict between science and ideology, one or the other must be abandoned. Since our leaders are committed to their ideology, the science must be wrong. So we have government members advancing the ridiculous hypothesis that the world’s climate scientists and the scientific academies are all engaged in a conspiracy to hold back progress. Peddlers of dubious pseudo-science that suits their ideology are hailed as experts. Wild theories that volcanoes are changing the climate or that it is all due to sunspots are embraced. With the hottest summer ever recorded exacerbating the impact of drought in rural Queensland, the Prime Minister doctors a quote from CSIRO to claim that climate change is not a factor. With science continuing to show up the Government’s ideology, we can expect further attacks on university science. CSIRO is losing hundreds of science jobs. Even Geoscience Australia, essentially a public subsidy of the mining industry, is facing cuts. This Government shows every sign of doing irreparable damage in its occupancy of the Treasury benches. Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University.
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The Thesis Whisperer Inger Mewburn
Working until it’s right I was trained as an architect and was taught, both in school and in offices, that architects should care deeply about ‘the work’. All night drawing sessions to finish tender documents were nothing unusual; working weekends was just expected. This ethos of caring was one way we distinguished ourselves from other building professions. I heard more than one architect criticise engineers for working by the hour, not ‘until it was right’. Working until it’s right is, of course, not sustainable. The breaking point for me came while working for Lyons Architecture in Melbourne. I’d been working for two weeks straight on a design competition in London and went straight from my international flight to the office to drop off the drawing set. I was stumbling through the car park on my way home when I ran into one of the partners of Lyons getting out of his sports car (yes, really). He asked why I was leaving when there was still work to do. Instead of giving him what my son calls ‘the rude finger’, I turned around and went back to my desk and pulled another all nighter.
them why they don’t leave they confess that they can’t because, deep down, they still love it. It makes sense doesn’t it? Love will make you stay in any relationship long beyond its use-by date. As it is for architecture so it is, I’ve noticed, for academia. You have to wonder if our love for what we do, is all that stops the higher education world from collapsing altogether. Recently a colleague I know through Twitter, Kate Bowles, has been writing a series of highly affecting blog posts on academic work. In the first one, ‘Beyond a boundary’, Kate talks about being diagnosed with cancer and wonders why her work was so important to her that she didn’t find time for a vital health check. Kate’s story resonated with me because, like her, I would not characterise myself as particularly academically ambitious. Like Kate I blog and play around on Twitter, both activities which don’t count in metrics around promotion. I have a child, which, statistically, sets me behind my male colleagues (who, apparently, don’t suffer as much career damage by procreating). Like Kate I enjoy the company of like-minded colleagues and students
I have a child, which, statistically, sets me behind my male colleagues (who, apparently, don’t suffer as much career damage by procreating).
Whenever I think of this moment, I have the urge to go back in time and slap myself upside the head. The next day I collapsed with the flu. Then a post-operative infection from my wisdom teeth extraction re-surfaced. I honestly thought I would die as I lay in bed, doing a lot of soul searching. It wasn’t long before I quit architecture altogether and began teaching full time. Some of my friends still work in architecture – and complain about it. When I ask page 38 • NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate
and love to do research and the freedom to think for a living. But, Kate argues, the things that make academia a pleasurable place to work are also traps. We don’t want to let our colleagues or our students down, we value our freedoms such that: … as we flip open the laptop on Sunday mornings: we tell ourselves that the boundarylessness of our time and service is a privilege. Kate then goes on to compare academic over-work with doping in cycling, we do it … because everyone does it, because it’s what you do to get by, because in the moment we argue to ourselves that it feels like health and freedom. Blogger Plashing Vole takes this argument further noting that, just like a dentist cannot clock off half way through a root canal, you cannot ignore a student or colleague in need just because time is up. Just as in architects’ offices you work till you get it right. I’m sure I’m not alone in relating to Plashing Vole when she says ‘I feel bad when I don’t overwork because I’ve been trained to see overwork as normal’. Plashing Vole’s final point really hits home: we live in a ‘social web we don’t want to break’. Higher education is now nine times bigger than when I started in 1989, without the corresponding increased in staff. Everyone in academia depends on everyone else’s willingness to overwork, just to make the whole system sustainable. I’ve been sick this week. The kind of sick where you lie in bed, stare at the ceiling and feel miserable about all the emails piling up. I’m beginning to dread what my friend Katherine Firth calls ‘the electronic walk of shame to the end of the inbox’. I care about ‘the work’, but I think we can all learn from those engineers who, by the way, tend to have far more profitable businesses than architects. Working until it’s right is not a sustainable business model – for employers and employees alike. So next time you open the laptop on a Sunday ask yourself: is this really the kind of freedom I want? Dr Inger Mewburn does research on research and blogs about it at www.thesiswhisperer.com Kate Bowles blog musicfordeckchairs.wordpress.com Plashing Vole blog plashingvole.blogspot.com.au
Letter from Aotearoa/NZ Lesley Francey
We need farsighted university councils, not myopic ones The NZ Tertiary Education Minister wants to cut away the independent voices on university councils. This is not an esoteric debate about good governance though, it is a very real debate about New Zealanders’ democracy and freedom to speak up. Universities take great pride in their independence from government, and often with good reason. Few public bodies have a duty to stand up and challenge governments when governments act outside the best interests of the people who elect them. Universities and their cousins, polytechnics and wānanga, are some of the few public bodies that do have this duty. Our universities have a legal and moral duty to act as a critic and conscience for society; examining, thinking about and commenting upon the real world things happening in our communities. Their duty to speak truth in the face of power is similar to the duty journalists hold, and it is an important facet of our democracy. Sometimes that duty comes with great danger. In many parts of the world, governments throw academics in prison, beat them, exile them from their friends and family or even kill them for fulfilling their duty to academic freedom. In recent weeks, Ukrainian academics shed their blood on the streets, and academics in Egypt went to prison for using their academic expertise to question their respective governments. This duty to contribute to democratic debate – by actively practising academic freedom – that staff and students in universities, polytechnics and wānanga have, means the current Minister’s proposals to cut the independence of university and wānanga councils are dangerous. Very dangerous. The Minister is proposing to change the people who sit on the governing councils of universities and wānanga. Currently
university councils comprise a group of people who represent the communities of that university. They include staff, students, representatives of the Minister, local employers and workers, and often other communities, such as former students or the local city council. Many of those representatives, such as staff and students, are elected democratically by the people they represent, or are chosen by democratically elected bodies. Under the Minister’s new law only the ministerial appointees will remain. The councils will shrink in size, meaning the ministerial appointees will make up a larger percentage of the council. The remainder will be appointed based on their ‘governance experience’ rather than the communities they represent.
This duty to contribute to democratic debate – by actively practising academic freedom – ... means the current Minister’s proposals to cut the independence of university and wānanga councils are dangerous. Very dangerous The consequence of this change will be that the Minister’s voice at the council table will grow stronger, because his appointees represent a greater proportion of the council. Meanwhile, democratically chosen, independent people who have traditionally spoken for academic freedom and the duty of institutions to be a critic and conscience (i.e. staff and students) will lose their seats to people with ‘governance experience’. The Government imposed a similar law upon polytechnic councils in 2009. Since then it has become clear that governance experience is a euphemism for big business directors, lawyers and accountants. All those people have a crucial role to play on university councils, but our existing councils already make spaces available for them. Their contribution should not come at the expense of the democratic voice of staff, students and communities. For universities to fulfil their duty to academic freedom, and to being the critic
and conscience of society, they need three things: 1. They need enough independence from the Government and from other powerful organisations so that they can safely challenge those in power without coming under undue pressure from those organisations to back down. 2. They need to be as democratic and representative as possible so that they have the internal support and strength of their communities when they do choose to challenge those in power. 3. They need to reflect all the people that make up their local communities so that it is not just one voice that dominates those councils – whether it be ministerial appointees or the spokespeople for big business. A strong council needs to comprise all these voices, not just some. The Minister intends to pass this law this year. So far, his only justification is that he wants councils to be more nimble and agile. He has produced no evidence that the type of councils he proposes will be more nimble and agile. In fact, some of the most highly regarded universities in the world have much larger councils than New Zealand universities, made up of dozens of democratically elected representatives. Students, staff, council members and vice-chancellors all say they do not want the law. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland says the proposed changes will harm the reputation New Zealand universities have overseas. New Zealand’s universities all rank very well by world standards, especially given their comparatively small size and recent lack of government support. It is bizarre that the Minister would want to change a governance structure that has served the country so well for such a long time. Smaller councils with fewer voices are not more nimble or agile. They are simply more myopic. We sincerely hope that the Minister has made a mistake and will choose independence and democracy rather than deliberately choosing myopia and bias. Lesley Francey is National President/Te Tumu Whakarae, New Zealand Tertiary Education Union/Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa www.teu.ac.nz
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My Union NTEU members in Australia Day honours NTEU congratulates the members honoured in the 2014 Australia Day list by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. • Professor Phyllis Butow, University of Sydney, for significant service to medicine in the field of psychology, as an academic, researcher and author, and to professional organisations. • Professor Ruth Fincher, University of Melbourne, for significant service to education, particularly geography and urban studies, and to national and international geographic associations. • Winthrop Professor Cashel D’Arcy Holman, UWA, for significant service to medicine in the field of epidemiology and public health. • Professor Peter Newman, Curtin University, for distinguished service to science education as an academic and researcher, through contributions to urban design and transport sustainability, and to the community. • Professor Rosemary Owens, University of Adelaide, for distinguished service to the law, particularly to legal education as an academic and administrator, to national and international employment and labour organisations, and to women. (See interview, p. 41.) • Scientia Professor Deo Prasad, UNSW, for distinguished service to architecture, particularly in the field of sustainable urban design, as an academic and researcher, and to the solar renewable energy sector. • Professor Kate Warner, University of Tasmania, for significant service to the law, particularly in the areas of legal education and reform, and to the community. (See interview this page) The late Dr Paul Mees, whose obituary appeared in the December 2013 Advocate (vol. 20, no. 3) was awarded an OAM for service to public transport and urban planning as an academic and advocate for creating sustainable cities.
Law educator Kate Warner Professor Kate Warner from the University of Tasmania was awarded an AM for significant service to the law, particularly in the areas of legal education and reform and to the community. Professor Warner teaches Criminal Law, Criminology, Sentencing and Evidence at the University of Tasmania and has an extraordinary list of achievements including being Foundation Director of the Law Reform Institute in 2002, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law since 2007, a member of various Tasmanian legal boards, and a prolific author and researcher. Strongly encouraged by her family to go to university, she chose the law because ‘being such a badly behaved school girl, I had the thought that I didn’t want to become a teacher and be subjected to similar behaviour. Yet, now I love teaching.’
‘The Law School has been an excellent place to work. I’m proud to have made a contribution to it. The opportunity allowed ‘I became aware me to be a mentor that justice wasn’t for both law students just about offenders. and members of staff,’ Justice involved she said.
gender issues and issues of social class.’
A graduate of the University of Tasmania, Professor Warner completed an honours degree in law in 1970, an LLM by thesis in 1978, and began lecturing in the Law Faculty in 1981. Her interest in law reform began early in her career. ‘When I was studying criminology, I became aware that justice wasn’t just about offenders. Justice involved gender issues and issues of social class,’ she said. Throughout her career, Professor Warner has made a significant impact on law reform, particularly in changing the definitions of rape and consent and in making reforms to evidentiary laws. She joined the Federation of Australian Universities Staff Associations (FAUSA), one of the NTEU’s predecessor unions nearly 30 years ago and has been a union member ever since. ‘I’m conscious of the need of staff to not be exploited. In the late 1970s, I taught two courses for a number of years and, employed as a casual, I didn’t even earn enough to pay income tax,’ she said. ‘It is so important to have a Union that fights for greater job security for employees and I think job security is a good focus for the NTEU.’
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Professor Warner was the first female Dean of the Law Faculty from 1992-94 and the Head of School from 1994-97.
Last year Professor Warner received the Biennial Achievement Award for Tasmanian Women Lawyers and said ‘going through law at a time when there weren’t many females in law, I felt it important to show leadership as a woman’. In the past two years, Professor Warner received two Australian Research Council grants, both involving public opinion and sentencing. The latest grant is a national survey of sex offence sentencing. Professor Warner is excited about both grants. ‘It’s great to get two grants like that to finish off my working career,’ she said. ‘The research I’m doing in public opinion and sentencing involves surveying and interviewing jurors to find out how they respond to offenders and what the informed members of the public really think regarding sentencing so that this can be can be fed back into the criminal justice system,’ she said. Very attuned to the unacknowledged and valuable achievements of so many people who do amazing work in the world, Professor Warner is a humble and a little uncomfortable recipient of her latest award. Helena Spyrou, National Education & Training Officer
Photo courtesy of UTAS
My Union Rosemary Owens: champion for women, workers and work/life balance It’s not often one has the opportunity to talk to someone as interesting and impressive as NTEU member, Rosemary Owens, but following her recognition in the Australia Day Honours list, I was lucky enough to learn more about this champion for women, workers and the work/life balance. In this year’s Australia Day awards, Professor Owens was appointed Officer for the Order of Australia for her distinguished service to the law, particularly legal education as an academic and administrator, to national and international employment and labour organisations, and to women. ‘It was very, very humbling,’ she said of the recognition. ‘Accepting the honour was a way of highlighting all the people and organisations I have worked with. The honour is as much theirs as it is mine.’ It was Professor Owen’s parents who first instilled her with an interest in education, ‘I was the first person in my family to go to university and they led me to that. Education was a gift that they emphasised. Not a lot of people had the opportunity to go to university during that time.’ Professor Owens has been based at the Adelaide University Law School since 1987, serving as the Dean of Law between 2007 and 2011. During that time she has witnessed some of the seismic shifts that have occurred in the sector and across industry more broadly; growing class sizes, changing technology, and the changing face of workplaces. ‘When I began work there, there were a number of women but only one other had children. Academia was not an area women with children were a part of. That’s changed drastically.’ It was during the 1970s, after having three children in quick succession, that Owens’ interest in law began. Having trained as a teacher, she later resigned to care for her children in the absence of any meaningful child-care. Volunteering for Amnesty International piqued her interest in law and her husband encouraged her to study. ‘Thank
best thing at the time, but can be real opportunities to grab.’ Professor Owens has served as the Chair of the South Australian Government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Work/Life Balance, and since the early 1990s has also worked with the Working Women’s Centre in Adelaide, which helps local women with workplace issues. Owens believes vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors and deans have an important role to play in making universities more woman-friendly and assisting families to achieve that work/life balance.
God for Gough Whitlam! If there were fees and extra costs I would never have gone back to university to do another degree.’ Throughout her career, she has been recognised internationally as a leader in her field, having held many significant appointments throughout that time. In 2010 she was appointed to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), which comprises 20 world experts who are chosen on the basis of their independence, integrity, and expertise in their field.
‘If there’s going to be profound change, then it matters who’s at the top and what decisions they’re making. You need commitment from those at the top and they tend not to be women.’ Working at a research university, Professor Owens’ interest in the impacts of globalisation, the work women carry out, as well as what the prospects of regulation of work internationally are, naturally married with the mission of the ILO. ‘Decent work for everybody is key to social justice and has always resonated with me,’ she said, ‘I was humbled to be on the Committee of Experts.’ Surprisingly, it was by chance that Professor Owens fell into the area of labour law. A colleague was on leave and Owens was asked to fill in, subsequently falling in love with the ‘intellectual excitement’ that the research brought. ‘It think it’s an important theme,’ she said, ‘your career doesn’t always develop according to plan. Sometimes it can take turns that may not initially seem like the
‘If you’ve got women who are successful in their career – they can’t do it alone,’ she said. ‘Frankly, I think there have to be programs that are particularly targeted at assisting women coming back to work after parental leave.’ In her own sphere, Professor Owens, her husband and children have all pitched in to share responsibilities in their home, ‘you have to have support at the personal level, whether that is from friends or family.’ She thinks that workers and organisations are still struggling with achieving the ideal work/life balance, despite there being more women in the workplace. ‘If there’s going to be profound change, then it matters who’s at the top and what decisions they’re making. You need commitment from those at the top and they tend not to be women.’ Despite this, she thinks everyone is trying harder, ‘when it comes to the younger generation of men, a lot of them are responding to the personal challenge of taking a greater role. This is essential.’ When it comes to addressing these issues using the law, Professor Owens sees it as a blunt instrument: ‘There are laws that require large firms to report on gender equality and I think these things are very important.’ She says that progress will not be made without intervention and believes quotas and targets are useful in this regard, ‘The United States is way ahead of Australia on these things. It is possible!’ Professor Owens highlighted that achieving equality for women is not about overcoming individual attitudes, but large systemic issues, not just here, but also overseas. ‘We have a long way to go for achieving equality for women. Perhaps the next generation will be more sophisticated in their ways of dealing with this. I often think they are doing extraordinary things while also rejecting the label of feminist. I embrace that label as it signifies there is a lot of work to do.’ Courtney Sloane, National Media & Communications Officer
Photo: Keryn Stevens © News Limited
NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 41
My Union General Staff Conference November 2013 saw an important and unique gathering of general staff in Adelaide. Admirably hosted by the NTEU SA Division, the Union held our first national General Staff Conference, attended by over sixty general staff from across the country. The key themes of the conference were: • The roles of general/professional* staff. • Career development and goals. • Change and continuity in mass higher education. The objectives of the conference were to: 1. Expand the conversation and research on the contribution that general and professional staff make to higher education, particularly in terms of quality assurance and enhancement. 2. Look at how to support general staff in their career development (e.g.., resources, networks). 3. Analyse the NTEU’s current policies and positions on general staff about both industrial and professional issues. 4. Review how the classifications of general and professional staff roles should be regulated. Kuarna Elder Uncle Lewis O’Brien welcomed the participants to the country of the traditional owners, and pointed out that people had been conferencing on this land for thousands of years. The conference got down to sessions covering the following themes:
Who are the General Staff? Analysis indicates that there are about 83,000 general staff in Australian universities, including about 20,000 casual employees. There is a large concentration (around 54%) of general staff in the HEW 4-6 classifications, but the average classification has crept up over the past 20 years, so that at some universities HEW/HEO 6 is the most common classification. Most interestingly, analysis of data from the Commonwealth Staff Statistics Collection indicates that the progression of staff based on age or even on the length-of-service is remarkably small. For example, the fact that the average age general staff exit the industry- 39 - is only 3 years higher than the age they join, indicates that many general staff do not see universities as a place to have a career. As to where general staff work, about one third each work in academic units, in a central administration, and in academic support.
Issues of equity and security About 55% of vacancies are filled from outside recruits, which raises serious concerns about the extent to which general staff receive real staff development opportunities.
Women generally start at a lower classification than men, and on average, NTEU analysis based on the distribution of classifications of staff suggests the gender pay gap remains at about 11% across the sector. Leaving aside casual general staff (about which there is little reliable data) there is still a significant gender-job-security gap; 29% of women are on fixed-term contracts as compared to 24% of men.
Making healthy workplaces According to research, 33% women reported harassment at work in last 5 years, as well as 27% of men
Award classification descriptors Discussion at the Conference, along with the results of survey and research, indicated it was likely that staff in higher classifications were more likely to have had their classification reviewed , and that there was more diversity in approaches to classifying general staff between universities than within universities. Only 50% of staff whose positions had been reviewed considered that the review had been conducted properly. Small group workshops helped inform deliberations on to the approach the NTEU should take to the 2014 Modern Award Review, which will look at what changes need to be made to the Award safety-net against which Enterprise Agreements must be compared.
Professional identity There was some discussion about the changing roles of general staff, most participants agreed that the type of work was changing rapidly and that whole job groups existed now that did not 20 years ago. Protecting the industrial and career interests of staff during these changes is core union work. The Conference discussed examples of where lines were blurring between academic and administrative work, and
page 42 • NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate
the existence of new types of ‘third space’ jobs such as in curriculum and instructional design. The discussion also identified the relationship between professional autonomy and increased work demands for many staff.
Future Union work Conference participants identified several important areas for future NTEU work: • A focus on combating the outsourcing of jobs such as cleaning, maintenance, gardening, security, IT, marketing etc. • F ind ways to share information across different Branches issues. • Fight creeping job insecurity. • E ncourage initiatives to improve recognition and reward for general staff.
Feedback Some of the feedback from participants included: ‘The conference was good and was a great motivator. It can only get better in the future. We must continue to have more.’ ‘One of the main points I took away from it, both from the presentations and from communicating with the other delegates, is that career stagnation is widespread among general staff in the sector and that it especially affects women’ Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity (and challenge) to share, hear, discuss, debate and work through issues important to us. We have so much diversity and variety in our group as well as facing many common issues and situations. Thank you to everyone involved – this was a great step forward in the work we do! Lynda Davies, NTEU Vice-President (General Staff) Conference website: www.nteu.org.au/general/conference2013 * The terms ‘general’, ‘professional’ and ‘support’ staff are variously used to describe the staff employed in administrative, technical, scientific and professional capacities. The term ‘general staff’ is used in this article and means the same thing as all of those.
Photos by Kate Gale and Jen Tsen Kwok. NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 43
My Union Celebrating NTEU’s Foundation Members On 1 October 1993, the National Tertiary Education Union came into being. This made 2013 a special year as the Union celebrated our 20th Anniversary. The momentous occasion was marked through a range of special commemorative events around the country. At these, members identified as having maintained continuous membership over the 20 year life of the Union were presented with a special badge and certificate commemorating their status as Foundation Members. Foundation Members who could not attend one of these events were sent their gifts in the mail. Many Foundation Members sent us kind messages of thanks, some of which are reprinted here.
I received, out of the blue, my NTEU Foundation Member badge the other day, and it reminded me of just how valuable a union is... I know that staff value the work of the union. Keep up the great work! – Bill, NSW
It was not a perfect day for me yesterday then arrived home to a package from the NTEU, it contained my Foundation Member badge and signed testamur, made my day – in solidarity we stand, in solidarity we shall continue, well done everyone. - Jon, NSW Right: Cake cutting at the ACT ceremony. Below: A collective of NTEU University of Newcastle Branch Presidents, past and present (L-R) Bill Warren, Wayne Reynolds, Suzanne Ryan, Bert Groen, Rod Noble.
Functions were conducted at the 2013 National Council meeting in Melbourne, in the SA, ACT and Tasmanian Divisions and at Ballarat, UNE, Macquarie, UNSW, JCU, CQU, USC, UQ, Melbourne and Monash.
More news and photos: www.nteu.org.au/myunion/about_us/ history
Below: Evening celebrations at UQ Branch.
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Congratulations on turning 20 this year, NTEU. Thanks for encouraging solidarity across the higher education sector to achieve good conditions for the members. – Mary, VIC
Above: National Office Foundation Members receiving their certificates: (L–R) Grahame McCulloch, Ken McAlpine, Paul Kniest, Jeannie Rea, Matthew McGowan, Peter Summers and Linda Gale. Below: Cake cutting at the WA Division 20th Anniversary cocktail party.
20 years is truly a significant milestone! Congratulations to you and other members of the Executive and Union on the many achievements during this time. In particular, the work involved in representing and supporting staff and negotiating conditions of employment on our behalf is greatly appreciated. Best wishes for the years ahead. – Janet, ACT
Right: Jeremy Smith presents Rose Counsel her Foundation Member certificate at Ballarat. Below: SA Division presentations: (L–R) Rick Sarre & Marike Tiggemann; Lynn Walsh & John O’Brien; Bill Lucas & Robert Iseman.
NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 45
My Union Organising in a cold, cold climate The winter of 2014 may well be the Australian trade union movement’s ‘winter of discontent’, with the Royal Commission kicking in, savage cuts across the board predicted for the May Federal Budget that will threaten jobs and services, and a combined attack on wages and employment conditions by the Abbott Government and the business sector. In what is becoming a common theme of the Abbott Government’s various Royal Commissions and enquiries, they’re as much about payback as anything else – whether it be to the ALP with the Pink Batts Commission releasing Cabinet documents, or to the union movement for the defeat inflicted in 2007. While the Royal Commission is unlikely to be an issue for the NTEU, the Union will suffer from the same attack on our public credibility and standing as the rest of the movement by the regular media focus on the Commission’s proceedings, with News Ltd and the extreme right-wing shock jocks, as well as the Government, leading the charge. Clearly one of the main reasons for the Royal Commission is to weaken the union
Inspiring women in science The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) has created the Nancy Millis Medal to recognise outstanding research and exceptional leadership by early- to mid-career Australian women who have established independent research in the natural sciences. The late Professor Millis, an Academy Fellow who passed away in September 2012, introduced fermentation technologies to Australia, created the first applied microbiology course taught at
movement, to make it more difficult to defend against the attacks that will come through the Budget via the Commission of Audit, the review of the Fair Work Act and the attacks on penalty rates, pay equity and job security. The tertiary education sector will not be immune. There is already a foreshadowed $2.3 billion cut to university funding and students that is likely to pass when the new Senate is installed in July, along with any other changes contained in the Budget. Fortunately, the NTEU is in a reasonable position as we enter the fray. Membership grew by 4% in the year to December 2013, to reach the highest it hass ever been at over 27,700. But it’s not just raw numbers. During this tough bargaining round members have worked and campaigned collectively to achieve the best possible outcomes in very difficult circumstances; hundreds of members who haven’t previously been involved contributed to the Union’s Dumb Cuts and Vote Smart public policy campaigns before and during the 2013 election. The old adage is still true: the Union is its members, not a ‘third party’ group of people. We need to maintain our focus on organising and engaging with our members and other university staff to defend the sector and the living standards of tertiary education staff. Ultimately, it is the collective membership strength and organisation that makes or breaks the NTEU. The best way to build that strength is to persuade your colleagues to join and get involved. Michael Evans, National Organiser
an Australian university, and cowrote the standard text Biochemical Engineering. AAS President, Professor Suzanne Cory, said the medal is intended as a tribute to Professor Millis and to inspire future generations of female scientists. ‘This medal honours the contributions to science by Professor Millis and recognises her importance as a role model for aspiring female scientists in Australia.’ ‘I encourage all universities and institutions to nominate outstanding female researchers for the Nancy Millis Medal.’ Nomination details and guidelines for the Award: www.science.org.au/awards/ awards/millis.html
New and relocated NTEU staff A new year sees new faces in offices across the Union. PLease welcome our newest staff.
Courtney Sloane Media Officer National Office Courtney joined the NTEU in January 2014 as the National Media Officer having previously worked as a media adviser in the previous federal government. Prior to that, Courtney worked at UN Women Australia and Advocacy for Inclusion developing policy recommendations in line with human rights frameworks. In 2012, she co-founded the pro-choice, youth organisation, Vocal Majority, which campaigns on reproductive rights in Australia and overseas. Courtney has previously served on the ACT Minister’s Advisory Council for Women and the board of Canberra’s YWCA. In 2011, she was nominated for the Young Human Rights Medal for her work in raising the issue of sexual assault on campus while at the National Union of Students. She holds a Bachelor of International Relations from the ANU.
Deborah Wilson Organiser Tasmanian Div Deborah has been appointed to the newly created role of northern Tasmanian organiser at UTAS. She is based in Launceston, and will work closely with NTEU members at campuses in Launceston, Beauty Point and Burnie. Deborah brings to this role wide-ranging experience in numerous work settings. Of particular relevance is her experience as an official with CPSU (including coverage of UTAS members), and through understanding of university life as a student. She recently completed a PhD in history, and her thesis explored the contributions of unionists and communists to the Aboriginal rights movement post-WWII. Deborah has recently submitted this manuscript to a publisher. She and her supervisor, Prof Henry Reynolds, are very hopeful that her thesis will be released as a book. continued on next page...
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My Union Staff movements Shannon Harwood Organiser Tasmanian Div Shannon joined the Tasmanian Division in early December last year as an organiser based in the southern part of the state. She has come to the NTEU after four years working as an organiser at the CPSU, and 18 months prior to that as a delegate for the CPSU when she worked for the public sector in disability services. Most of her life Shannon has represented those who don’t have a voice, supporting them in accessing their rights. Shannon is passionate about campaigning in a smart way to seek great outcomes for the sector. Shannon has said that working at the NTEU’s Tas Division is proving to be one of the most positively challenging and rewarding roles she has held. She also commented that for her, ‘the fact that we represent and fight for the rights of those who value education and lifelong learning dearly is just the icing on the cake.’
Brianna Parkins Organiser UoW Brianna joined the union movement as a disgruntled checkout chick at 16. As the daughter of two proud unionists, she is a veteran of rallies and May Day marches. While studying Politics and Journalism at the University of Wollongong, she secured a place in the Union’s NSW Union Summer program, placing her in the excellent hands of the South Coast Labour Council where she gained an interest and appreciation of trade unionism in the Illawarra. She worked there until joining the NTEU as the University of Wollongong’s Branch Organiser. Brianna hopes to maintain the Branch’s solid legacy of activism and unity. Last year she studied at the University of Miami where she worked with Dream Defenders to help African American hospitality workers unionise. Her goal is to continue to support the effort every way possible despite being in a different time zone.
In NSW, Cat Coghlan has returned from maternity leave and is the Branch Organiser at Sydney University. She is joined there by Kaylene Field, who has moved from UWS. Sharon Bailey has moved from UTS to take up the UWS Branch Organiser role. Emma Clancy has moved over from the WA Division to the Branch Organiser position at UTS. Victoria has undergone a reorganisation of staff at Branch and Division levels. Clare Danaher is now Division Industrial Officer based at La Trobe University, with Liz Schroeder (previously at Monash) the Branch Industrial Organiser. Serena O’Meley is now the Branch Industrial Organiser responsible for RMIT. Chris Latham moved to Monash as Branch Industrial Organiser, and Branch Organiser Sam Maynard moved from RMIT to the University of Melbourne. www.nteu.org.au/contacts
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NTEU ADVOCATE • vol. 21 no. 1 • March 2014 • www.nteu.org.au/advocate • page 47
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