There are several pieces in the Australian this morning having a go at the ANU. I have thoughts on the matter that I’m hoping to share over the next few days or so, but in the meantime I just want to remind everyone that this isn’t an isolated incident.
The Australian National University’s decision to adopt socially responsible investment criteria for managing its $1 billion investment portfolio has sparked quite a row. An increasingly frank exchange of views between the ANU and its critics has played out in the pages of the Fairfax publication The Australian Financial Review.
That’s from a few years ago when the ANU trashed the corporate reputations of Australian firms. As I said at the time:
Perhaps the ANU senior management thought it is self-evident that business would cause social harm. Perhaps they have bought into the notion that fossil fuel producers, and other resource companies, have become “a rogue industry” that should be shunned. With such a world-view perhaps it is unsurprising that they didn’t bother to double-check when their suspicions were confirmed by what appears to be shoddy research.
The ANU, to my mind, is doing exactly the same thing now. As we read in the Australian this morning:
The historian and author said he took “no pleasure in the outcome” given he and many of his colleagues had supported the Ramsay Centre’s proposal to fund a degree in Western civilisation at the university, as well as an extensive scholarship program.
“On the other hand, Tony Abbott’s aggressive article in the April issue of Quadrant [in which he described the Ramsay Centre as being “not merely about Western civilisation but in favour of it”] had a devastating effect on the attitude of all of us who had been supporting the proposal.”
The ANU clearly expected to be paid to teach a program that was critical of western civilisation. Looks to me that the Ramsay Centre has just saved itself a lot of money.