Wednesday 28th of September 2022

how australian universities join the zelensky propaganda campaign…..

How USyd funds gunboats, attack helicopters, heat-seeking missiles for US military

USyd’s $3.41 billion investment portfolio is linked to F-35 fighter planes, Patriot missile systems, Apache helicopters, Predator UAVs, and heat-seeking Javelin missile systems.

USyd’s $3.41 billion investment portfolio is shrouded in secrecy, protected by a web of bureaucracy and only accessible through Freedom of Information legislation. So, what is the University hiding?

 

by Fabian Robertson

 

Well, even after Honi acquired access to the portfolio, the answer to that question was not immediately clear. USyd’s investments are scattered across various privately managed funds around the world, the contents of which are not always publicly disclosed. Honi previously uncovered that multiple funds in the portfolio had millions invested in fossil fuel companies. Now, Honi can reveal that two funds in the portfolio, as of 30 November 2021, invested in manufacturers of military equipment.

 

Gunboats

USyd had $22.4 million invested in HarbourVest Partners, one of the largest private equity funds in the world and responsible for $75 billion in assets. Part of HarbourVest’s investment strategy is purchasing companies, growing them, and then selling them for profit.

In 2010, HarbourVest acquired SafeBoats International, an American manufacturer of military boats and primary supplier of combat vessels to the US Navy. Since October of last year, HarbourVest has been contracted by the US Navy for $166.1 million for the production of 8 combat-ready Mk VI Patrol Boats. In September last year, SafeBoats was awarded a foreign defence contract worth up to $864.5 million for 16 Mk VI’s to be supplied to the Ukrainian Navy. SafeBoats has also produced boats for the Iraqi Navy, Mexican Navy, and Gibraltar law enforcement. SafeBoats previous company motto was ‘God, Country and Fast Boats’.

 

Missiles, attack helicopters, attack drones

In 2019, HarbourVest acquired Hermetic Solutions Group, a manufacturer of crucial electronics mechanisms for missile, radar, surveillance, and warfare systems. Hermetic provides design support, products, and materials for a number of defence programs for the US military. These include the F-35 fighter planes, Patriot missile systems, Apache helicopters, Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and heat-seeking Javelin missile systems.

 

Armoured military vehicles

USyd had $42.6 million invested in THB Asset Management, an investment fund with $440 million in assets. 5.4% of THB’s funds are held in TPI Composites Incorporated. While predominantly a manufacturer of blades for wind turbines, TPI also develops materials and designs for armoured military vehicles. In 2010, TPI announced that its All Composite Military Vehicle (ACMV) passed testing for use by the US Military.

According to TPI’s CEO: “Not only will this vehicle give our troops increased mobility, its lighter, high-strength composition will allow for significant fuel efficiency and potentially allow for the addition of enhanced armor or greater payload. This is a huge step forward in military vehicle engineering.”

 

Unlearn missile launchers?

Currently, USyd  excludes tobacco companies and cluster munitions – munitions that drop clusters of explosives over a wide area – from their portfolio. According to a University spokesperson, “the Investment Subcommittee of the Senate considered the fund’s performance in an ESG (Environmental, Social, and corporate Governance) context” in 2021.

Such measures suggest a degree of ethical consideration in USyd’s investment strategy. How, then, do investments in THB and HarbourVest make the cut?

This is perhaps best explained by looking at the resumé of our esteemed Chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson.

 

USyd is run by a munitions company chair

Since 2015, Hutchinson has served as Chairperson of Thales Australia, the national subsidiary of Thales Group. Aside from being the eighth largest arms manufacturer in the world, Thales is infamous for allegations of human rights violations, bribery and corruption, and is the subject of a complaint to the International Criminal Court for supplying products to a Yemeni government accused of war crimes.

Hutchinson’s leadership over USyd, then, is a symbolic and practical barrier to any meaningful divestment from military manufacturing. As Chancellor, Hutchinson also Chairs the very Senate that governs USyd’s investment practices – a clear conflict of interest if the Investment Committee was to reconsider military links.

From an ideological viewpoint, Hutchinson’s high-ranking association with munitions undermines the social, educational and humanitarian ideals that underpin the operation of a university for the betterment of society; for the public good. Hutchinson’s blocking of meaningful reform to investment strategy only compounds the reality that her Chancellorship is untenable.

Both problems lay squarely at the feet of Hutchinson, and both problems can only be solved by her removal. 

In 2021, RMIT and the University of Newcastle forced out their Chancellors for holding Chairperson positions in gambling and mining companies respectively. As a purported leader in tertiary education, there is only one way that USyd can progress: Belinda Hutchinson must be fired.

 

READ MORE:

http://honisoit.com/2022/05/how-usyd-funds-gunboats-attack-helicopters-heat-seeking-missiles-for-us-military/

 

NOTE:

Truth really is the first casualty of war. We see it again in the Ukraine. Even our universities join the Zelensky propaganda campaign.

 

See also:

 

is the US empire preparing to throw zelensky under the bus?……...

 

more ukrainian angels toilet news….

 

remembering when ukraine was corrupt in 2014 — and still is in 2022…….

 

the USA wind-up the stakes, forcing the russians to go further west and more ukrainians will die…..

 

the west could also test various diseases like anthrax, black plague, rat poison, nazi rash and fascist flu…...

 

and many more articles....

 

 Picture at top by Gus Leonisky, at a recent (2 months ago?) Syd Uni strike action.....

 

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the first casualty of war…..

 

By John Menadue

 

Amnesty International has just released a report that drew attention to Ukrainian violations of International Law in its war with Russia. It quickly became a footnote in the propaganda war.

The Amnesty report said “Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals, as they repelled the Russian invasion that began in February,’

“We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”

See the Amnesty Report here.

Our Western Media focus has drawn attention for months to Russian atrocities. But when there was a more balanced report by Amnesty International our media quickly buried it.  Some media that briefly mentioned the AI Report led their stories with the Ukrainian/Zelensky rebuttal.

Our White Man’s Media has consistently refused to mention the failure of the Minsk Agreement of 2014/15 which set the context for the outbreak of this terrible war. Or the numerous pledges by the US that NATO would not ‘move one inch eastwards’ toward Russia. Or that Ukraine gave extreme rightwing nationalists eight years to practise warfare on originally defence -less pro-Russian civilians in the Donbas where 14,000 were killed.

Or that a vastly greater number of Yemini people have been killed by the Saudis with the support of the US.

White Christians are much more worthy  than brown Muslims!

Truth really is the first casualty of war. We see it again in the Ukraine. Even our universities join the Zelensky propaganda campaign.

 

 

READ MORE:

https://johnmenadue.com/john-menadue-the-ukrainian-zelensky-propaganda-war/

 

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on the gravy……..

 

by 

 

The appointment of a lobbyist to lead a Sydney university only emphasises the tightening grip of business on higher education. And as humanities courses are jettisoned and academics laid off work, the salaries of university chiefs have leapt into the stratosphere, writes Michael Sainsbury.

 

If there was any doubt about the undue influence that the corporate sector has played in the country’s universities it has been put to bed with the appointment of Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott as Chancellor of Western Sydney University.

Westacott will retain her role at the BCA as well as continuing her nine-year-old board tenure at former coal miner and retailer Wesfarmers. At the BCA she has pushed for lower wages and lower company taxes, and in 2014 celebrated the Abbott government’s repeal of the carbon tax which set Australia back almost a decade on climate change action and helped set up the current energy crisis.

It has been a well-worn path for blue-chip company chief executives and chair people who have been instrumental in the over-corporatisation of universities to the detriment of their academic excellence. They chase high-fee paying overseas students and strip traditional humanities courses in favour of business degrees, laying off tens of thousands of staff and casualising thousands more as well as spending countless millions on consultants.

The appointment of the head of Australia’s peak corporate lobby group to the UWS chancellorship, effectively the institution’s chair, comes only weeks after Australian National University Chancellor Julie Bishop appeared in a video spruiking mining services company MinRes (Mineral Resources Limited). The thoughts of the institution’s Nobel Prize winning Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt would be fascinating to know.

Many saw the former foreign minister’s conduct as wildly inappropriate and perhaps a conflict of interest for an institution determined to wean itself off extractive industries, and such inappropriate connections are many among the coterie of chancellors, especially the coterie with serial corporate boardroom duties.

Critical guns trained on Hutchinson

Exhibit A is Sydney University’s long-time Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson’s gig as Australian chair of global arms dealer Thales. This has long been a concern for many students, academics and alumni of the university and she was called out in a searing piece in the student newspaper Honi Soit  in September 2021.

“Putting aside the obviously murky ethics of weapons manufacturing in the first place, Thales has a distinctly mediocre moral record. In the last five years alone, it has been the subject of corruption and bribery indictments, been complicit in international humanitarian law violations in Yemen, and is the subject of a complaint to the International Criminal Court”, observed Honi Soit. The journal detailed a lengthy list of Thales misdeeds including involvement in the corruption trial of former South African president Jacob Zuma and kickbacks to disgraced Malaysian PM Najib Razak.

Hutchinson abruptly left the Telstra board in 2007 during the pitched battle between imported CEO Sol Trujillo and the Howard government, offering shareholders no explanation. In her first year as chair, 2013, Hutchinson resigned as the chair of insurer QBE’s board after it posted an unexpected $280 million annual loss, smashing its share price. She maintained that severe weather events that had hit the company were not due to climate change.

A campaign by staff at the RMIT University saw long-time chancellor – and serial board member –  Ziggy Switkowski leave due to his position as chair of Crown Resorts. Unions claimed the win although he has denied this was the reason for his exit.

A similar campaign at the University of Newcastle saw incoming chancellor Mark Vaile, former National Party leader, withdraw in June 2021, after a campus-wide outcry about his position as chair of Whitehaven Coal.

Is business taking over university leadership?

Other corporate bigwigs who have taken on chancellorships including Deakin’s John Stanhope, who approved the handing out of expensive watches to Australia Post executives, a scandal that saw the group’s chief executive Christine Holgate sacked while Stanhope kept his job.

University of Technology, Sydney chancellor Catherine Livingstone has held multiple board positions and was chair of the Business Council of Australia during her ongoing tenure. She is chairman of the Commonwealth Bank and on the board of mining services group WorleyParsons.

Some people see the university chancellor’s role as being largely ceremonial but it’s much more. The chancellor sits atop the university’s council or senate that is responsible for the employment of the vice-chancellor, the university’s chief executive. In keeping with corporate practice the salaries of Australian VC’s have leapt into the stratosphere, making them among the world’s highest paid academic managers.

At least 12 vice-chancellors received more than $1 million a year in 2021 as they all cried poor on behalf of their universities due to the pandemic and the collapse in international student numbers. This included a number of institutions outside the top 200 global rankings (only the Australian National University, Melbourne, Sydney, NSW and Monash are in the top 100). The salary of University of South Australia VC, David Lloyd, was $1.2 million in 2020 when his university was ranked a lowly 354. This is almost double that of the salary of Oxford University’s VC Louise Richardson of $637,992 in 2020.

Universities have used their outsized international student revenues – a sector often cited as Australia’s third largest export after iron ore and coal at more than $20 billion before Covid to subsidise research (not teaching) in order to boost their global rankings to attract more international students. A circle with very little virtue.

 

READ MORE:

https://michaelwest.com.au/westacott-joins-academic-gravy-train-as-vc-salaries-go-up-and-profits-soar/

 

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high edukashun kapers…..

 

BY Allan Patience

 

In recent Pearls and Irritations posts, James Guthrie, Adam Lucas and Alessandro Pelizzon have signalled the need for a Royal Commission into higher education in Australia. Their advocacy could not be timelier.

Australia’s universities today have lost their way. They’re under-resourced victims of ill-thought massification strategies and a neoliberal culture of manageriualised madness. Governments fail to see them as vital public assets and mistake students as fee-paying clients rather than investing in their education to support the county’s future prosperity and security.

In July 1988 the so-called “Dawkins Reforms” were unleashed on Australia’s higher education system. Colleges of Advanced Education and TAFEs were swallowed up by universities. Some CAEs and TAFEs became universities in their own right or were merged with similar institutions to become quasi-universities. The Dawkins Reforms transformed universities from being places for a privileged minority to mass education institutions. That in itself was a fine idea, but the policies to implement it have either been non-existent or hopelessly inept.

The result is a catastrophic mess causing serious declines in teaching and learning standards, the clumsy casualisation of much of the teaching work force, and universities being devalued by governments and the media – despite the vital role they play in society and the economy. Vice-chancellors (presidents) have become CEOs on salaries and contracts aping corporate executives, opening up a yawning cultural and workplace gap between managers and academic staff. The outcome has seen a precipitous fall in morale among academic staff and students alike.

A divisive hierarchy of universities has emerged, further entrenching socio-economic inequalities while vandalising the very “idea” of the university. Some of the amalgamated institutions are now struggling to survive. Federation University in regional Victoria for example has announced that it’s abandoning its Bachelor of Arts programs because it can’t afford them – arguably surrendering its right to be called a university at all.

The decade of reactionary politics in Australia under the Abbott, Turnbull, and Morrison governments witnessed right-wing politicians treating universities with callous indifference and particularly during the Morrison era with derisive contempt. Morrison and Frydenberg locked public universities out of Job Keeper payments during the COVID lockdowns, resulting in the loss of some 40,000 so-called “casual” staffing appointments. Ministers of Education (notably Birmingham and Tudge) took it upon themselves to unilaterally cancel peer-assessed research grants.

The most negative of all the “Dawkins Reforms” was the imposition of a one-fits-all template on the Australian higher education sector. All of the “new” universities tried to copy the old prestigious universities, sometimes with farcical results. The reality of the vast diversity of interests and attributes among young adults seeking a post-secondary education was brutally ignored. Their needs and aspirations were (and are) haughtily dismissed by university managers bent on emulating the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne, if not Oxford and Cambridge.

The entire sector needs to be comprehensively restructured – a painful but essential pathway out of the mess in which it now finds itself. What Australia needs in fact is a tripartite higher education system. Three separate but equal higher education sectors need to be carved out from the presently swollen and dysfunctional unitary system.

  • Polytechnics (or Institutes of Technology)

These institutions are urgently needed to provide training programs at several levels, from trades apprenticeships through to high-technology research and training. Their task will be to to alleviate skills shortages while nurturing a culture of high-tech ingenuity and creativity across the country. They should award certificates, graduate diplomas and degrees in technology (the highest being the Doctor of Technology, equivalent to the PhD). Their models should be something akin to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the California Institute of Technology.

The primary focus of the polytechnics should be on what Aristotle called techne – that is, practice. Many teaching programs appropriated by universities post-Dawkins should be returned to the polytechnic sector, including engineering, building construction, architecture, IT training, nursing and para-medical training, accounting and business, hospitality training.

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences Colleges

In the context of the information revolution sweeping the world, the Australian higher education system now needs a pre-university sector of colleges of liberal arts and sciences, similar to the great American colleges of liberal arts and sciences: for example Swathmore, Amherst, Wellesley. As the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum has noted, the task of these colleges will necessarily entail “shaping future citizens in an age of cultural diversity and increasing internationalisation”, by providing broad liberal arts and sciences curricula preparing graduates, inter alia, for professional degrees in universities – for example, Law, Medicine, and Teaching, while also providing them with the skills and discernment for doctoral and related research programmes.

The primary focus in the colleges must be on teaching. Research, mainly, has to be the domain of the universities. The colleges must recruit brilliant teachers who have the talents to inspire and broaden students’ understandings of their worlds. Graduating from the colleges (with a BA or a BSc) should be the primary entry requirement for graduate study in a university. That means the colleges will replace most, if not all, the undergraduate degree programmes currently taught in universities. They would make them what Immanuel Kant described as the “lower (that is, foundational) faculty”.

  • Down-sizing Universities

These developments would necessarily prune the size and scope of the academically byzantine mega-university structures that have come to dominate the higher education sector since Dawkins. These institutions are trying to be all things for all people, frequently failing at doing both. As the distinguished philosophical founders of the modern university John Henry Newman and Wilhelm von Humboldt argued in the nineteenth century, universities must be places that, first and foremost, are committed to the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake and that are engaged principally in pure research.

In the twenty-first century, they will still need prepare graduates for the professions in what Kant referred to as the “higher (or professional) faculties”, through graduate (presumably Masters) level courses of study. However, the “higher faculties” should be seen as a subordinate adjuncts to the knowledge pursuing and pure researching functions of any university worthy of that name – not the other way round as it tends to be at present.

Clearly a Royal Commission into our universities is urgently needed, inviting submissions and hearing evidence from all stakeholders who understand that Australia must aim for nothing less than a world-class higher education system. To cling to the higher education status quo would be deeply contrary to the national interest.

Allan Patience’s book The Idea of the Public University will be published by Routledge at the end of September 2022.

 

READ MORE:

https://johnmenadue.com/its-time-to-clean-up-the-mess-that-is-australias-higher-education-system/

 

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rich beggin bowls…...

 

By Binoy Kampmark

 

With the election of a new government in Australia in May, the begging bowls were being readied by administrators in the university sector. Bloated, ungainly, ruthless and uneven in quality, the country’s universities, for the most part, had inadvertently made their case for more public funding harder.

Initially ravaged by poor investment decisions, notably in the Chinese market, COVID-19 had threatened to wipe the balance sheets of a good number of Australia’s academic institutions. Despite initial shocks, the storm has been, apart from a few institutions, weathered.

The University of Sydney registered a A$1.04 billion operating surplus between 2020 and 2021, with an underlying surplus of A$454 million. The University of New South Wales (UNSW) reported a A$306 million surplus in 2021, a considerable improvement from its A$19 million loss in 2020. The University of Technology Sydney recorded revenue amounting to A$109 million, shading their $50 million loss from 2020 into oblivion.

Such surpluses would surely suggest the viability of pay rises for staff, an important point in pay negotiations with stingy university managements. “There’s no excuse for university management to be hoarding money in such proportions,” reasons the National Tertiary Education Union branch president Nick Riemer. “People at the university are crying out for much-needed reforms. This shows they are affordable.”

NTEU New South Wales Secretary Damien Cahill has also added his view that a number of universities, notably University of Sydney, “can afford a fair pay rise for staff and to fix the problem of widespread job insecurity.”

The response from the non-teaching, non-research blotter jotters was characteristic. Such ballooning amounts were seen as unusual, one-off cases, arrows out of the blue. Around the corner, revenue stripping disasters await. The pot of gold needed protection, not distribution.

University of Sydney’s Vice Chancellor Mark Scott led the pack with that ill-worn argument. “While this is a strong result, it is also a one-off result,” he claimed in a statement. “We are not immune from the continuing uncertain future of international higher education and the growing cost pressures currently affecting the global and Australian economies.”

The University’s own annual report notes how the surplus came about “mainly due to increases in overseas student enrolments, strong investment performance and non-recurring items including the Commonwealth Government’s A$95.1 million Research Support Program contribution and the net gains from the disposal of property assets.”

The picture is one of corporate brands raking in cash rather than educators providing a public service. Some 38 of Australia’s universities, for instance, drew revenue from selling their shareholdings in IDP Education, considered one of the world’s largest international education companies. Prior to the sale, Australian universities held a 40% stake in IDP Education, retained via Education Australia.

While operating surpluses have been registered aplenty, job losses have been unremitting. Thousands of staff have been given the big heave-ho and sod off treatment even as managers have continued feathering their nests. (All in all, 3,237 fewer permanent and fixed-term contract staff positions were noted in the latest federal government figures.)

The University of NSW topped the league tables in that regard, with 726 fewer full-time equivalent positions in 2021 than the previous year. The University of Sydney shed 223 staff despite recording its best surplus in 172 years. The measure served to reduce employee-related expenses by A$60 million.

To these job losses can be added those suffered by the invaluable, long suffering casual workforce. In a shameful state of affairs, this precarious body of workers, with minimal labour protections and economic security, constitute the vast bulk of those delivering courses. Prior to the pandemic, the number of casual employees working in Australia’s universities is estimated to have been in the order of 100,000. Losses of 4,258 full-time equivalents in 2020 were registered, but other higher assessments abound.

Before this spectacle of inequity basks that species of lamentable administrator known as the Vice Chancellor. The Australian variants of this office have persistently proven to be untrustworthy and unworthy. For years, their obscene pay packages, their decisions to reduce able staff while still maintaining their own inflated salaries and the tribunate that surrounds them, deserved an anti-corruption inquiry.

The scope of such an inquiry would have to be oceanic and vast, from teasing out the grounds for ludicrous investment choices to rules stifling free speech and academic freedoms. Along the way, the habitual resort to non-disclosure agreements, the use of codes of conduct as silencing bludgeons, and the almost total absence of solid anti-whistleblower provisions, could be looked at.

Instead of being interrogated by appropriate QCs and chased up with a sharp summons, these managers only grow in number, the mold of administrative disaster, undermining academic health at every turn and creating the next absurd brand they call a “university”. With each semester, new positions are created with names disturbingly reminiscent of industrial cleaning products: DVCs, PVCs, Deputy PVCs and what not. These fatuous appointments are subsidised, in turn, by the labours of ailing, overworked staff, contemplating ruination, dejection, and suicide.

The education system has been in sharp decline in inverse proportion to the financial returns being hailed. Throwing public money at these beggars in surplus, an otherwise sensible proposition that could shield the sector from the ravages of impudent investment decisions, looks less appealing on closer inspection. Without deep, remorselessly brave reform, one that directly decapitates the officialdom of university management, good money will be thrown after ill-gotten gains.

 

 

READ MORE:

https://johnmenadue.com/beggars-in-surplus-australias-university-gangsters/

 

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