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Three reviews by Ross Fitzgerald in The Sydney Institute Review

30 October 2015 136 views No Comment

Three reviews by Ross Fitzgerald in The Sydney Institute Review, October/November 2015

1. ‘The Real Archbishop Mannix , From The Sources’.
Edited by James Franklin, Gerald O Nolan and Michael Gilchrist
Connor Court
ISBN 9781925138344
RRP , $29.95

Reviewed by Ross Fitzgerald

DANIEL MANNIX , SECRETS FROM THE FILES

In addition to Brenda Niall’s ‘Mannix’, also published this year is ‘The Real Archbishop Mannix: From the Sources’, edited by three scholars , James Franklin, Gerard O. Nolan and Michael Gilchrist. Their fascinating assembly of primary sources, including letters and speeches by and about him, further illuminates our understanding of Archbishop Mannix , who was arguably Australia’s most famous Irishman and our most controversial prelate. Indeed it is difficult to disagree with George Pell, Mannix’s fourth successor as Archbishop of Melbourne, who maintains that Mannix was “the most influential churchman in Australian history.

The front cover of this revealing collection of documents is graced by a particularly fine black and white headshot of Archbishop Mannix, which was taken for St Patrick’s Day, 1919. It seems that this is the same portrait of Archbishop Mannix that appears in colour and in a slightly enlarged form on the front cover of Brenda Niall’s controversial biography.

As Franklin, Nolan and Gilchrist point out in their helpful Preface, Mannix was “one of the great Australian orators, in a style uniquely sardonic and mockingly patrician.

As this historically significant source-book demonstrates, the classic Mannix speech had the audience laughing, every few sentences, at the follies and self-contradictions of his opponents. The fact that audience participation was essential to the Archbishop’s publicly spoken utterances is underpinned by the fact that the printed versions of his most notable addresses and self-revelatory speeches are dotted with inserted words like “Laughter, “Cheers’ and “Applause , all emphasised in italics.

Especially early on in the book, there are some revealing illustrations. Two photographs in particular caught my eye. The first is a handsome full-page photograph of Coadjutor Archbishop Mannix shortly after his arrival in Australia in March 1913. The second is that of Mannix as president of St Patrick’s seminary at Maynooth during the royal visit in May 1911. Dr Mannix is standing, dignified and erect, beside the wife of King George V, Queen Mary and the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Michael Logue.

Intriguingly, ‘The Real Archbishop Mannix’ points out that, at this time in Ireland, the extreme Nationalists suspected Dr Mannix, because he had not only opposed the introduction of Gaelic but because he had warmly entertained British royalty at Maynooth. As well as receiving King George V and Queen Mary, in July 1903 Mannix had previously hosted King Edward VII when he visited Ireland with Queen Alexandra.

Indeed, it was only after Mannix had arrived in Melbourne in 1913 , that his repeated radical utterances confirmed the suspicions of Protestants and other conservatives that he was implacably hostile to British rule.

One of the most fascinating sections in this intriguing source-book is Chapter 6, entitled Loyal Son of the Church? This chapter is a useful exemplar of the tone and content of ‘The Real Archbishop Mannix: From the Sources.. As such, in this review, I will deal with it in some detail.

To understand this chapter, it is important to note the question mark at the title’s end i.e. Loyal Son of the Church? This is because the documents and letters quoted in Chapter 6 illustrate arguments both for and against the political and other positions Mannix adopted throughout his long reign as Archbishop of Melbourne.

As early as 1917, Mannix defended his right to speak about political and temporal matters: “There are people who say that freedom of speech is a valuable thing, but that it should be denied to Catholic Bishops and Archbishops. In contrast, he argued that, “The countries in which the Church has failed most disastrously are those countries in which ecclesiastics kept within the sacristies and took no interest in the temporal concerns of their people.

Two years before his death in 1963, Mannix indicated that he remained faithful to that view: “When a man becomes a bishop he doesn’t cease to be a citizen, and, as a responsible man, he has the right to make up his own mind and his own conscience and to follow it.

Later in the chapter, a series of letters and correspondence demonstrate that in 1918 our insistently pro-war Prime Minister Billy Hughes was most anxious that Mannix be disciplined and recalled. But in response to this request, a highly placed clerical source warned that even though the Archbishop’s “revolutionary or semi-revolutionary attitude in Australia meets with no approval at the Vatican, Mannix “enjoys a great influence upon the working classes and that “severe measures taken against him by the Holy See would undoubtedly aggravate the situation.

What Mannix thought about the efforts to restrain him can be gathered by the way he incorporated them into his personal mythology, as told to some confidants years later. Bob Santamaria, for example, recorded that a story Mannix most enjoyed retelling was that, after some promptings by Prime Minister Billy Hughes, the leading British politician Arthur Balfour urged Cardinal F A Gasquet to ask Pope Benedict XV to recall him. When the Cardinal said, “But what could we do with him? Where would we put him? Balfour responded, “Couldn’t you bring him back to Rome and put him in charge of a college? Tellingly, the Cardinal replied: “God forbid! At least in Australia he’s far away.

Both in Ireland and in Australia, Mannix was at pains to assert his right to hold opinions and to speak “as a normal citizen, not an archbishop. For example, in a 1925 speech in Dublin, Mannix stated : “When a man becomes a priest he does not cease to be a citizen, he has a right to his own opinions like other citizens. (Applause).

At one crucial point in the 1920s, Mannix unexpectedly received support from the highest level. After having being refused entry to Ireland and creating political disturbances in parts of Britain by his pro-Irish nationalist speeches, in April 1921 he met Pope Benedict XV. The British government, and probably the Archbishop of Melbourne himself, thought that he would be condemned by the pope, along with Irish Republican “terrorist activities. Instead, Mannix’s meeting in Rome with His Holiness was cordial. The follow-up statement by Benedict XV even-handedly condemned the violence on both sides of the conflict in Ireland.

B A Santamaria remembered that, years later, Mannix described details of that meeting. Australia was not mentioned; it was Ireland that was on the agenda. When the Pope said to him: “What do they think of me in Ireland?, Mannix allegedly replied, “The Irish people find it very strange that you seem to be against them, when for so many centuries they have been faithful to Rome. “But I am not against them said the Pope. “I am for them. “Then, Holy Father, said Mannix, “You should write to let them know.

Mannix recounted the story to Santamaria thus: “The Pope laughed at my impudence, and then surprised me: ‘You draft me a letter and if I agree with it I will sign it.’ So the Archbishop of Melbourne drafted the letter. As Franklin, Nolan and Gilchrist conclude, “The Pope agreed with the suggested text, and when his pronouncement on Ireland appeared on 22 May 1921 it clearly bore a Mannix imprint.

Chapter 6 also deals with a letter of rebuke from the Apostolic Delegate to Australia, Archbishop Philip Bernardini, to Archbishop Mannix dated 11 January 1934. Its meaning seems clear. It is a direct order for Mannix to shut up: “You would do an act most pleasing to the Holy Father, and a precious work for the welfare of the Irish nation, if in future you would cautiously avoid public discussions.

Mannix’s reply is dated 21 January 1934. He was, as almost always, unrepentant. More than this, the Archbishop of Melbourne deliberately upped the ante: “I should also be proud if I could think that by any act or word of mine I helped others in some small measure to dispel from the minds of the Irish people the hateful idea that their Church was hostile to their legitimate political aspirations!

Other sections in this useful collection of sources deal with Mannix and White Australia. The reality is that, as with his support for the rights of indigenous Australians, Mannix was publicly well ahead of his time. Thus, as early as 1945, he argued for a relaxation of our restrictive immigration practices and for a complete repudiation of the notion of racial superiority: “We should surely make it plain to our coloured friends that there is no colour bar in Australia and that, as children of the Father, we recognise our brotherhood with all men.

The fact is that, for many years, Mannix disagreed with most Australians and almost all of our key immigration policy makers, on the White Australia policy. This included his fellow Catholic, the Melbourne,based, federal Labor Party luminary Arthur Calwell, who was Minister for Immigration in the government of Ben Chifley from 1945 to 1949.

It is useful to be reminded that Mannix’s stand on immigration was strongly supported and championed by B A Santamaria , who wrote in 1962 that “The Kingdom of Heaven has no White Australia policy!

As this revealing book details, to Mannix’s deep disappointment, Calwell (who became federal leader of the ALP in 1960) remained a resolute supporter of our deeply inequitable and racist White Australia policy. Moreover, Calwell fell out with Mannix , whom he had previously regarded as a spiritual and sometimes political hero , because of the Archbishop’s strong support of Santamaria’s secret Movement, later the National Civic Council, as well as the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) , which came into existence in 1955 as the Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist) and which was renamed the Democratic Labor Party in 1957.

In a section towards the end of ‘The Real Archbishop Mannix’, entitled “What AFL (sic) Team Did Mannix Support?, Franklin, Nolan and Gilchrist quote Santamaria (who was a dyed in the wool Carlton supporter) as claiming that, as well as the news, on his black and white TV the Archbishop watched the footy replays. But contrary to Niall’s claim in ‘Mannix’ about him supporting the Collingwood Magpies, in this detailed sourcebook the Archbishop is quoted as saying: “You know, I’m supposed to be a barracker for Collingwood. I suppose because Collingwood is in the vicinity. But the truth of it is that I have never seen a football match in my life!

For some reason, in the Afterword to ‘The Real Archbishop Mannix’, entitled “Back of House, all the footnotes stop at FN 13. It is puzzling that footnotes 15 to 35 inclusive are missing. Unfortunately this generally useful source book gives no intimation of what happened to them!

Much more concerning in the Afterword are gratuitous, and to my mind unfair, references to Archbishop Mannix , who died in 1963 , in relation to clerical sexual abuse, which didn’t begin to reach its height until the late 1960s and the 1970s.

While there is absolutely no evidence that Mannix was complicit in covering up Catholic sex abuse, or that he even knew about it, the real culprit in this respect is Frank Little, Archbishop of Melbourne from 1974 until 1996 when he was succeeded by George Pell. In fact, it was Archbishop Little who destroyed a great many, if not all, papers and other documents concerning clerical sex abuse in Victoria. As it happens, Archbishop Little is Brenda Niall’s main source for her highly dubious claims that Mannix had his private papers burnt in a three-day bonfire.

In her 2015 biography Niall states that, in the absence of adequate records, “Mannix can’t be cleared of knowing about child abuse by priests in his diocese. However, she does concede that, in the last decade of the Archbishop’s long life, it is possible that only about 20 per cent of Cathedral mail was taken to Raheen. Hence she concludes, “It may be true that Mannix was kept in the dark about many things.

However, a huge problem for the Catholic Church, both here in Australia and worldwide, is that because child sexual abuse and its cover-up has been so endemic, it is difficult for Catholic leaders to be free of the taint. The challenge for current and future clerical leaders of all persuasions is to make full amends and to ensure that church governance matches its responsibilities to future generations.

Professor Fitzgerald, a columnist with The Australian, recently edited Alan Reid’s unpublished Labor novel of the 1950s, ‘The Bandar-Log’, (Connor Court)

2. ‘Mannix’
By Brenda Niall
Text Publishing
ISBN: 9781922182111
RRP , $50

Reviewed by Ross Fitzgerald

MAN OF THE PEOPLE IN TOP HAT AND FROCK COAT

As far as I can tell, Brenda Niall’s new book is the ninth biography of the controversial Irish-born Daniel Mannix , who was the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne from 1917 to 1963.

A key theme of this well-written biography, repeated a number of times throughout the book, is that shortly after the 99-year old Mannix died about midday on 6 November 1963 , the day after Guy Fawkes Night and Gatum Gatum won the Melbourne Cup , there was an enormous three-day bonfire of the Archbishop’s private papers.

Niall claims that this systematic burning of most of Mannix’s papers took place at “Raheen , the Archbishop’s palatial mansion in Kew and was allegedly a deliberate move on Mannix’s part to foil and frustrate any future biographers.

The main problem with Niall’s controversial claim is that there is little evidence to support it. Certainly there was nothing in Dr Mannix’s will about destroying any documents. Neither are there any written or direct instructions from Dr Mannix about his wishing to have eradicated any or all extant letters either by or to him, as a private person or as the Archbishop of Melbourne.

Niall worked as research assistant for Mannix’s official biographer , B.A. (Bob) Santamaria from 1954 to about 1961. Niall also knows that, in fact, there were a large number of Mannix’s personal papers and letters, which survived his death. Indeed, a number of these were used in, and quoted by, Santamaria in his book ‘Daniel Mannix: The Quality of Leadership’, published by Melbourne University Press in 1984.

Moreover, after Santamaria’s death in 1998, all these 12 boxes of letters and papers were returned to Rachel Naughton at the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne , where they remain.

In the mid 1980s, I accessed Mannix’s papers at Maynooth’s St Patrick’s College seminary. Mannix had been president of Maynooth between 1903 and 1913, before coming to Australia at the age of 49. The priest/librarian at Maynooth told me that I was only the second Australian to ask for the Mannix papers. The other Aussie was Bob Santamaria. In fact, the archive contained very few of Mannix’s letters, most of them , as was his wont , very brief and penned in his spindly hand.

All in all, I find it hard to believe that a three day bonfire of Mannix’s personal papers ever happened. And because Niall’s claim about the deliberate destruction of his papers, on the order of Mannix himself, is so central to her biography, it makes this reviewer somewhat sceptical about Niall’s other key statements concerning the long-serving and often-controversial Archbishop of Melbourne. This includes Niall’s claims about the radical, Irish-born Father W.P. (William) Hackett SJ , whose biography she published in 2009 and who was allegedly sent to Australia because of his support for the Irish revolutionary militant Eamon de Valera. This statement I regard as being dubious and unproven, to say the least.

Niall’s “bonfire claims also cast doubt, in particular, about Father Hackett’s relationship with Dr Mannix. It is well worth recording that in ‘The Riddle of Father Hackett: A Life in Ireland and Australia’, Niall claimed that all of the Archbishop’s private papers were burnt on his say-so, whereas now in ‘Mannix’ her claim has been changed and diluted to claiming that most of these papers were burnt. But, significantly, in her 2015 biography Niall’s highly questionable statement about a three-day bonfire at Raheen still persists.

Some facts about Daniel Mannix and his life and times are incontestable. Born near Charleville in County Cork in March 1864, the son of a tenant farmer, Mannix was educated for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the Irish national seminary. Further studies saw him awarded a doctorate of divinity in 1895 after which he took up a lectureship in philosophy and the chair of moral theology at Maynooth and was elected to the presidency of the college unanimously in 1903. By 1912, however, it was clear Mannix’s stringent personality had alienated his superiors and he was not given a major see. In July 1912, he was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Melbourne and arrived at Melbourne’s Spencer Street Railway Station just before Easter 1913.

Tall, thin, gaunt, ascetic and often remote and austere, with a strong searching gaze and a powerful presence, Mannix was unforgettable and like no other archbishop in Australia or elsewhere. Mannix first came to public prominence in this country as a charismatic leader of the national anti-conscription campaigns. He played a part in the first conscription referendum, which was narrowly defeated on 28 October 1916, and especially in the resounding NO Vote in the second referendum of 20 December 1917 , when he was by then Archbishop of Melbourne. It was in part because of Mannix that the anti-conscription forces won out against the conscription advocates, who were led by the gnomic, Welsh,born and fervently pro-war prime minister W.H. (Billy) Hughes , who was widely known as the “Little Digger.’

It is clear that Mannix was a strict, total abstainer , who regularly spoke in strident advocacy of the so-called “temperance movement and against the evils of alcohol.

After he became Archbishop of Melbourne, Mannix was regularly seen, in his top hat and frock coat walking, with a cane, from Raheen to St Patrick’s Catholic cathedral in East Melbourne, which is situated near St Vincent’s Private Hospital. On the way there and back, the imposing Archbishop would often dispense coins to young children and the needy.

As far as we know, Mannix never used the telephone and, in the main was indifferent to the motorcar. However, in his last years, he liked watching the news on television and the Western serial “Gunsmoke.

Mannix had few friends and, after he was unable to attend his mother’s funeral in Ireland in 1925, he had little contact with his extended family. This meant that there did not exist a trail of familial correspondence. Even though he spent up to five hours each day in prayer, he left neither a spiritual journal nor a private diary.

While in the main aloof and reclusive, Mannix did have a decidedly messianic attitude to and belief in the militant Irish leader Eamon de Valera, who eventually came to power in 1932, and in the Australian Catholic anti-communist Bob Santamaria , both of whom he regarded in different ways as being “saviors of their people.

Indeed it was with Mannix’s strong support that Santamaria, for years, effectively organised what became known as “the Movement or “the Show. This involved establishing an informal set of so-called Industrial Groups to take on the Communists in the Australian trade union movement. Indeed, Santamaria adopted the Communists’ own methods of establishing and developing secret “cells in each union or Australian labour movement organisation. This method he used against communist infiltration of the trades union movement and, more broadly, against the Communist Party of Australia , whose influence was at its height at the end of World War II, and especially from 1945 to 1949.

For a while, the unstable federal ALP leader Dr H.V. (Doc) Evatt collaborated with Santamaria. But a few months after the increasingly erratic Dr Evatt was narrowly defeated in the May 1954 federal election, in a bid to hang on to his federal Labor leadership, he turned against Mannix’s Melbourne-based protégé. Evatt did this by denouncing secretive Movement members and supporters as being disloyal to himself and to the Labor Party. In so doing, he exposed the then relatively unknown Santamaria’s role in undermining the ALP , both federally and in the states. Evatt’s intemperate outbursts led directly to the tumultuous Labor Split of the mid 1950s, which helped keep the ALP out of office for decades. Niall cogently puts it thus: “Another Labor split , the third in Mannix’s time in Australia , brought back much of the sectarian bitterness of the conscription period.

After Father Hackett died in July 1954, Mannix’s most frequent visitor was Bob Santamaria who, on Saturday afternoons, would often drop in at Raheen on his way home from watching his team Carlton play football. As Niall recounts, the Archbishop was keen to hear details about the Victorian Football League. According to Niall (who produces no clear evidence to back up her claim), Mannix supported my beloved club Collingwood, which she aptly describes as “the team of the underdogs, (Mannix’s) neighbors across the river from Raheen.

The most touching scene in this well-produced book is when Mannix is observed at Raheen, arm gently around the shoulder, comforting his old enemy “Billy Hughes , after the latter’s beloved daughter Helen had died prematurely in London in 1937. In ‘Mannix’, Niall makes a convincing case that the unmarried Helen Hughes had been pregnant when she left Australia and that she died of septicemia after giving birth. To this day, the identity of the father is not known.

The Mannix/Hughes meeting of 1937 was not their last. From time to time thereafter, until the Little Digger’s death in October 1952, aged 90, Hughes visited Mannix at Raheen, and the two ex-rivals regularly exchanged birthday greetings.

Throughout Niall’s book there are remarkably few typos and mistakes. However, the militant Industrial Workers of the World (commonly known as the IWW or the Wobblies) is wrongly rendered as the International Workers of the World. But, to be fair, this is a common mistake made by authors who do not understand the details of the radical international labour movement of the early twentieth century.

In a chapter entitled “The Last Hurrah, Niall claims that, for her, “Evatt’s attack on the ALP men who were associated with the Movement wasn’t a complete surprise. This was, in part, because she had read two articles that explained the link , written by Alan Reid, the influential, political journalist and lead correspondent for ‘The Daily Telegraph.’ But, annoyingly, nowhere in the Endnotes or in the Bibliography of Mannix are Reid’s articles cited or even mentioned. This means that the reader does not know what were their titles, where or when they were published or what they had to say.

Professor Fitzgerald, a columnist with The Australian, recently edited Alan Reid’s unpublished Labor novel of the 1950s, ‘The Bandar-Log’, (Connor Court)

3. ‘Cradle of Australian Political Studies , Sydney’s Department of Government’
by Michael Hogan
Connor Court
ISBN: 1925138518
RRP , $39.95.

Reviewed by Ross Fitzgerald

HENRY’S BABY , AND HOW IT GREW

The origins of the Department of Government and International Relations at Sydney University , currently headed by Professor Colin Wight , extend back almost a century to 1917, when various public administration courses were taught within the economics faculty at Sydney University. This eventually led to a chair in Public Administration in 1934 , with the conservative Francis Bland becoming its first Professor in 1935.

As Michael Hogan points out in his useful historical and academic analysis, this was followed in 1947 by the establishment of the Department of Government and Public Administration, which Hogan states is “arguably Australia’s oldest political science department and certainly one of its most successful. Hence his book’s catchy title ‘Cradle of Australian Political Studies.’

In terms of its areas of study, teaching and research, over time the Department of Government has moved from a primary focus on public administration and public policy to a broader range of interests, including political theory, comparative politics and international relations. But, in its early decades, the right wing Professor Francis Bland ruled the roost. Hence, it should have come as no surprise that, after he retired from Sydney University in June 1948, Bland was elected in 1951 to the safe federal Liberal seat of Warringah, which is currently held by the Hon Tony Abbott. An arch-Tory, Bland served in the House of Representatives for ten years until his retirement from federal parliament in 1961.

As well as Professor Bland, the two most influential figures of Sydney University’s Department of Government were arguably the cultivated bachelor, Professor R.N. (Dick) Spann, who assumed the headship in 1954, and the irrepressible, irreverent and entrepreneurial Henry Mayer who, after becoming Professor of Political Theory in 1969/1970, briefly, and rather reluctantly, became head of department in the tumultuous years 1974 and 1975, when he was replaced as head by associate professor Ken Turner.

Seldom seen out of a grey suit, Dick Spann was a man of culture and considerable scholarship. A charming conversationalist, he was also, as Hogan puts it, “politically conservative, one of the earliest members of the Association for Cultural Freedom, and a regular contributor to the ‘Quadrant’ journal that defended similar anti-communist views.

Although he was happy to follow Spann in joining the Association for Cultural Freedom, and also in championing teaching by tutorials as a supplement to mass lectures, Henry Mayer was in many ways quite different. Loud, assertive, brilliant, extremely productive and sometimes sexist and confronting, Mayer was the driving force in the Australian Political Science Association. Indeed it was Mayer who helped transform the “APSA Newsletter into the journal ‘Politics’ (later ‘The Australian Journal of Political Science’).

Mayer also authored a path-breaking study ‘The Press in Australia in 1964’ , the year that for the first time witnessed the existence of a national newspaper, ‘The Australian.’ Thereafter Mayer edited ‘Australian Politics: A Reader’ which, as Hogan explains, “became a standard source for students of Australian politics in most Australian universities. From its first publication in 1966 this key work went into five editions , the last in 1980. From the Third Reader onwards, it was co-edited by Helen Nelson and was generally referred to as “Mayer and Nelson.

After Dick Spann died suddenly in July 1981, just as he was about to retire, and Henry Mayer retired unhappily from Sydney University at the end of 1984, staff demands for effective self-management, for non-professorial heads, for a culture of consensus decision making, and for an increased number of women in the department continued to take hold.

The latter included Anne Summers who, in 1975, had published the hugely influential ‘Damned Whores and God’s Police: the colonisation of women in Australia.’ With Mayer making a strong case on her behalf, the University adopted the highly unusual decision of accepting the published book as her thesis and awarding Summers a PhD. This occurred in 1980, five years after ‘Damned Whores and God’s Police’ had seen the light of day.

In her autobiography ‘Ducks on the Pond’, published in 1999, Summers writes of her introduction to the Department of Government:
“Henry Mayer made me feel very welcome and immediately arranged for us to meet weekly. The other professor in the Department of Government was Dick Spann, a courtly man of about 60 who taught Public Administration and English Political Theory, and whose ineffable courtesy enabled him to conceal whatever distaste he may have felt for the new notions of women’s liberation that I so enthusiastically espoused. Henry, on the other hand, had embraced them with an excitement that at first I found startling”.

As ‘Cradle of Australian Political Studies’ makes clear, 1990 was a turning point , both for the Department of Government and for the University of Sydney. That year witnessed the replacement, as Vice-Chancellor, of John M Ward , who embodied a more traditional consensus approach to administration , by Professor Don McNicol. From the moment of his appointment as VC, McNicol allegedly embraced the notion of a corporate university with considerable enthusiasm.

According to Hogan, this signaled the transformation of the university into a corporatised body adopting the principles of private enterprise and line management rather than collegial decision-making.

McNicol’s appointment as VC occurred four years after the first personal computers were made available to staff , an “innovation that fundamentally changed the work culture and therefore the general academic environment.

The discerning reader of this surprisingly informative and entertaining academic history might be forgiven for thinking that, after these two radical changes to academic life and standards, it was downhill all the way for Sydney University and for the Department of Government in particular. Certainly, while McNicol’s successors as Vice-Chancellors may not have embraced the demands of managerial efficiency with utter delight, they have all continued on a similar and seeming inexorably path of regarding the university as primarily being a corporation.

Sadly from the 1990s onwards, one of the deleterious side effects of the new administrative environment was the disappearance of the tribe of full-time tutors , who had often made studying politics and government at Sydney University so personally and intellectually rewarding.

For the record, in the early 1980s, on secondment to Sydney University from the multidisciplinary, team-teaching Faculty of Humanities at Brisbane’s Griffith University, I single-handedly taught a course in Political Theory in the Department of Government. All in all, it was a pleasant and fulfilling experience.

Things seem so different now. As Professor Raewin Connell wrote in July 2014 in the ‘Sydney Alumni Magazine’ , under the heading of The Corporate University:
” I’m winding up my career at a time when I don’t think it’s a happy time for universities. We’ve fallen into a culture of hyper-competitiveness where universities are regarded by their managers and governments essentially as competitive firms, competing against each other for resources, rather than what (should be) the reality, which is a knowledge system based on cooperation and sharing.”

Professor Ross Fitzgerald, a columnist with The Australian, recently edited Alan Reid’s unpublished Labor novel of the 1950s, ‘The Bandar-Log’, (Connor Court)

‘The Sydney Institute Review’, October/November 2015

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