the Australian

  • May 7, 1997, p. ??

    Rindos probe team promises answers

  • By Ross Storey

    THE West Australian parliamentary inquiry into the University of Western Australia's five-year-old Rindos affair will continue in a new form despite the death last December of the main protagonist, Dr David Rindos.

    The controversial denial of tenure to Dr Rindos, a noted archaeologist, created a stir in university circles.

    The inquiry, with powers equivalent to those of a royal commission, has been reconvened as the Legislative Council's Public Administration Committee, under the chairmanship of Labor MLC Kim Chance.

    It will meet today for the second time this year, with Labor MLC Cheryl Davenport as the only new member.

    Mr Chance, who replaces MLC Barry House as chairman, told the HES the previous committee had left a number of "unresolved issues and unanswered questions".

    The new committee was awaiting legal advice, expected in the next week, which would determine when further evidence would be taken. Mr Chance could not specify when the final report would be completed.

    "Our main interest is in the processes used by UWA, and indeed any other university, in the difficult area of tenure extension," he said. "We will be working to tie up a whole heap of very untidy loose ends.

    "The death of Dr Rindos .. doesn't affect the investigation."

    The university is pressing for a speedy end to the inquiry.

    "While UWA retains the view that the inquiry was an unnecessary expense on the taxpayer, it is important the committee concludes its work as soon as possible," said acting vice-chancellor Professor Alan Robson. "The university reaffirms its willingness to co-operate fully ... "

    The previous committee, now reformed, held more than 20 meetings last year, taking evidence from 17 witnesses and written submissions from 60 others. Its terms of reference include investigating whether the procedures adopted by UWA to review Dr Rindos's tenure, and his subsequent appeals, amounted to a breach of the common law rules of fairness.

    The committee planned to make recommendations from the case on "the need to maintain the integrity, professionalism and international standing of State universities generally, thereby reinforcing the public confidence in the State tertiary education system".

    The inquiry was sparked by Labor MLC Mark Nevill's statement in Parliament late in 1995 that conditions in UWA's former archaeology department (now disbanded) had constituted "a scandal without precedent in Australia and one which was [being] covered up rather than corrected".

    UWA has consistently maintained that Dr Rindos was fairly treated and in accordance with established procedures.

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