Politics put aside to celebrate university ties
Friday, 23 May 2008
A federal political alumni network, believed to be the first established by an Australian university, will be launched at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 26 May when some of the country's most senior politicians will put aside party differences to celebrate their alma mater, the University of Adelaide.
Deputy Prime Minister the Hon Julia Gillard MP and her Liberal Opposition counterpart the Hon Julie Bishop MP will be among a group of Australia's most influential people to become founding members of the University of Adelaide's Federal Parliamentary Alumni Network.
Instigated by arts graduate Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, the network will provide an opportunity for federal Members of Parliament and key parliamentary staff to re-engage with fellow University of Adelaide graduates on a semi-regular basis.
Senator Stott Despoja is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide in the School of History & Politics. She is a former president of the University's Students' Association and was Leader of the Australian Democrats in 2001-2002.
Her fellow alumni include Senator Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water; Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, the Hon Robert Hill; Australian Ambassador to Italy, Ms Amanda Vanstone; Senator-elect, the Hon Nick Xenophon; and more than 20 current parliamentarians representing all political parties.
The Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, Professor James McWha, will officially launch the network at Parliament House at 6.30pm.
Earlier in the day, the Vice-Chancellor will host a lunch for more than 100 alumni at the National Museum of Australia. Distinguished alumni to attend the lunch will include the Secretary of the Department of Climate Change, Mr Martin Parkinson and celebrated scientist and smallpox pioneer, Professor Frank Fenner.
"We hope this alumni network will allow Members of Parliament and associated staff who are graduates of this University to build closer links, regardless of their political affiliations," says Professor McWha.
"At present, many of them are unaware they share a common alma mater and their only contact with each other is a brief acknowledgement in the great corridors of Parliament House."
The network will aim to meet twice a year in Canberra, with the Vice-Chancellor and senior University of Adelaide staff in attendance.