the West Australian

  • December 20, 1997

    letter from Kim Chance

    YOUR editorial (Politicians intrude on academe, 8/12) contained an interesting conclusion from a newspaper which has otherwise distinguished itself as a defender of the right of the public to an open an accountable system of public administration.

    The University of Western Australia, as with any other public tertiary institution, is established by the statute of the Parliament of WA. To suggest, as your editorial did, that while the Legislative Council had the right to "interfere" it was wrong to do so, is, in effect, saying that Parliament ought to ignore deficiency of process for no other reason than it occurred in a university. Both Parliament and the public of WA have a right to ask why that should be the case.

    Your view that the inquiry by the Public Administration Committee was, at worst, a threat to the traditions of academic freedom is spurious. The committee's report points to the failure by UWA to adhere sufficiently to the common- law rules of procedural fairness in its dealings with Dr David Rindos. Far from threatening the traditions of the academic freedom, the committee's report reinforces the right to freedom and fairness on the part of every member of the university community, rather than adopting the notion that these rights belong only to an academic elite.

    The implication of political motivation which you claim to have "stained" the inquiry is unsubstantiated. The Public Administration Committee, like its predecessor, contains an equal number of Government and non-Government members and our report was unqualified and unanimous in all aspects.

    KIM CHANCE, MLC, chairman, Standing Committee on Public Administration

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