Jones warns of "dumbed down" election

Wednesday, 22 August 2001

Dr Barry Jones, one of the key architects of the Australian Labor Party's "Knowledge Nation" report, is the guest speaker at the launch of a national conference in Adelaide tonight (7.30pm Wednesday, August 22).

The annual Human Resources conference for the Group of Eight Universities (Go8) is being held in Adelaide over two days, 23 and 24 August, at the Adelaide Festival Centre. The theme of the conference is "HR Strategies for Innovation and Research".

Dr Jones, a former ALP president and chairperson of the Knowledge Nation Task Force, will speak at the official launch of the conference - a dinner at the Lyrics Restaurant, Adelaide Festival Centre, tonight.

While defending the Federal Opposition's Knowledge Nation, Dr Jones says universities shouldn't hold their breath if they expect to see higher education take centre stage at the next federal election:

"I would like to hope that Universities would feature highly on the political agenda for the Federal election campaign - but I wouldn't count on it. This is the era of wedge politics, with a sharp divide between elite and populist opinion. There are already disturbing indications of attempts to dumb down political discourse with Coalition MPs and candidates emphasising local issues and totally disregarding broader national or international issues - so expect to hear a great deal about barking dogs, garbage collection, traffic congestion and police deficiencies - and nothing about Universities, the broad issues of education, health, the environment, Reconciliation or the Republic, all of which are viewed in some quarters as 'elite issues', as indeed they are."

Guest speakers at the conference include many senior academic and non-academic staff from Adelaide University, as well as vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors from Tasmania, Queensland and Canberra.

Their topics span a range of issues in university human resources, particularly those that affect Australia's major research universities.


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