From: (Eric Brunner)
Newsgroups: sci.anthropology,sci.archaeology
Subject: Re: Univ. Western Australia Update #5 (warning: long & distressing)
Followup-To: sci.anthropology,sci.archaeology
Date: 5 Mar 1996 19:35:57 GMT

Hugh W Jarvis ( wrote:

Intro: David Rindos used to occasionally post in sci.arch. He was one of the better reads the newsgroup had to offer. Last year I forwarded to sci.arch Update #4, and Hugh, who is the owner of several anthro/archy related listservs, forwarded Update #5 to this news group -- it has also appeared in arch-l, and elsewhere.

In reply, as Professor and Head of the Anthropology Department at The University of Western Australia, Bob Tonkinson [tonkinso@UNIWA.UWA.EDU.AU] has written to arch-l.

As a legal reader I fail to find much in his response, but perhaps he will make his points better with some lead time. In essence they appear to be:

  • - the republication of Parlimentary Privileged text exposes the republishing party (Hugh, and also his academic site) to some civil liability under a libel theory,
  • - the assertions made regarding files and the University Visitor process are without foundation (oddly, Bob attributes these to Hugh, not the "Austrailian" (which newspaper is not clear) article.

    The rest of his response appears to be a bromide and quite detached from either the mechanics of the University Visitor process, or Australian labor law, or any of the asserted underlying issues in the Parlimentarian text and supporting documents by parties directly involved in the circumstances at issue.

    The letter of Professor Tonkinson, in his official capacity as a Department Head of The University of Western Australia, asserting the thesis that email to a US-based mailing list, containing Parliamentary Privileged speach, may support an action for defamation under Australian law, is an important one. As the letter is non-responsive on the fact issues, what purpose such an advertisement of potential liabilities may serve, other than to intimidate the distribution of news, is not obvious to this reader.

    I urge the interested to take an interest in this case. At issue are the responsibilities of UWA towards its students and faculty, the UWA process for hearing conflicts, the valuation of an individual archaeologist in the UWA tenure process, the University Visitor process as a viable oversight process, and now the liabilities for reportage of the basic fact issues in a second common-law jurisdiction under the legal theory of defamation.

    | Since June 1993 [!] I have been posting occassional updates on the events
    | which occurred in Archaeology at the University of Western Australia. In
    | brief, the story began when Dave Rindos was denied tenure after reporting,
    | when he was acting as Head of Department, serious problems with the
    | treatment of students in the Department. A departmental review was held
    | by the University and it found that conditions in the department were
    | scandalous beyond belief. In its recommendations the Committee called for
    | strong action to rectify the problems. However, for reasons which are
    | still unclear, the problems were never properly addressed by the
    | University and instead of justice being done, Dr Rindos was fired on the
    | clearly contrived ground that he did not "come up to the high academic
    | standards of UWA."
    | While those of us familiar with the Australian scene have long been aware
    | of the rumours regarding conditions in Perth, and while a number of
    | Australians have been more than happy to speak privately about what they
    | knew, thus far the story has been pretty kept pretty much out of the
    | public arena. All of this has now changed because of a speech given in
    | the West Australian Parliament by the Hon Mark Nevill who spoke at length
    | about the "very serious situation" regarding the "archaeology affair at
    | the University of Western Australia" (Hansard 24, 1995, pp. 13192-13203). The remainder is deleted for brevity.


    Kitakitamatsinohpowaw (I'll see you again),

    -- Eric Brunner

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