Albo’s right-hand man just as odious

by PAUL COLLITS – IN 1979, I commenced a Masters degree – by thesis, when Masters degrees actually meant something – in the Political Science Department of the Australian National University’s School of General Studies. A once great institution. 

Here, I had an office, or at least shared one. The person who came immediately after me as an occupant of that office was named Glyn Conrad Davis. 

The list of Albanese’s atrocities against Australians, against our economy and social fabric and against the body politic, is already long, growing, serious, bordering on heinous – and well-known.

He is now Professor Glyn Davis AC, much lauded Centenary Medallist and, following a stellar if not especially scholarly academic career, he is the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

In other words, he is Canberra’s senior public servant. He may not be in the news as much as other public servants currently in the frame for heinous assaults on the Australian public and its freedom – think Julie Inman Grant, aka Turnbull’s girl, the pontificating Yank, Central Intelligence Agency recruit, international woman of online censorship, who runs government online surveillance down under and wants still more of it, and who is at present at war with Elon Musk.

CONTROLLING

Musk succinctly and accurately described Inman Grant’s move as follows: “Our concern is that if any country is allowed to censor content for all countries, which is what the Australian ‘eSafety Commissar’ is demanding,” Mr Musk posted. “Then what is to stop any country from controlling the entire Internet?”

US political journalist Michael Shellenberger agrees: “But what’s truly disgusting behavior is calling for the incarceration of someone for refusing to censor the entire global Internet on behalf of a single nation.

“It is not the right of any nation to decide what should be on the Internet around the world. ‘No president, prime minister or judge,’ responded Musk on X, ‘has authority over all of Earth!’ He’s right.”

Inman Grant is much in the news these days, and her world, and Albanese’s, is under attack.

But Glyn Davis is far less in the news. But he is still there, in the background but also at the centre of power, running the Government.

And he is very much part of Inman Grant’s world, and vice versa. And they are both tethered to the political class and to the Albanese world view.

The obvious question is, as Australia’s most senior public servant and given his boss, Anthony Albanese, is shaping as the most dangerous man ever to have held the position of Australian Prime Minister, exactly who and what does Davis think he is “serving”?

The list of Albanese’s atrocities against Australians, against our economy and social fabric and against the body politic, is already long, growing, serious, bordering on heinous, and well-known, certainly to readers here.

For a succinct and cutting summary of Albanese’s policy failures, broken promises, dangerous decisions, illusions of grandeur, outright lies and attacks against Australian cohesion and prosperity, you cannot go past the recent blockbuster penned by The Mocker in The Australian newspaper.

His title: “Albanese has over-estimated himself his whole political life.”

I would go much further than The Mocker. Each day brings fresh evidence that Albanese is contemptible. His latest effort – inserting himself into the program at a privately organised rally about violence against women.

I recently described Albanese as a “cosplayer”.

He likes dress-ups and pretending to be things he is not, and it sometimes involves uniforms. I think I want to extend this image now.

In fact, our PM is a serial “attacher”. He attaches himself to people, things, events, that he believes will enhance his reputation, such as it is. Wherever and whenever he can.

Given how often he does it, he would surely need to employ a team of people to set up such opportunities. For this he might come to be known as “the barnacle prime minister”, or simply Barnacle Albo”.

Such behaviour is beneath contempt, and certainly beneath the dignity of his high office.

Albanese’s errors (and worse) are also Glyn Davis’s. Perhaps Davis, too, has over-estimated himself his whole political life. And been over-estimated by his faithful network of long-term acolytes and cheer squads.

ASTONISHED

If you enter Glyn’s name on the search engine created by Larry Page, Sergey Brin and the US military-industrial tech complex, you might be astonished to find a potted biography of Davis on the web site of the Governor of Victoria. That would be Margaret Gardiner AO. Aka Mrs Glyn Davis. My old boss (Vice Chancellor) at RMIT University.

This was before she, like her husband, cracked the “group of eight” career code when she advanced from RMIT to Monash.

It was the era of married Vice Chancellors. Glyn ruled the University of Melbourne and Margaret ruled Monash.

The world of the broad ALP family is, indeed, a small world. A tightly connected world. As power couples go, they don’t come much higher up the food chain than these two eminences.

Some might call their twin career progressions a case study in crony socialism. Mutual back scratching can pay out big time, for both the politicians who nurture the careers of these public sector teet-suckers as well as for the unelected policy-makers themselves.

If you think that Davis has reached his career apotheosis in his current appointment, I think you are wrong.

I would call it a career nadir. Yes, as a result of his appointment in Canberra, he was considered No 2 on The Australian Financial Review’s list of Australia’s most “covertly powerful” people in 2022. (Sam Mostyn was No 7).

Yet, as Airbus Albo’s chief adviser, Davis must bear ultimate responsibility for the fruits of the Albanese Government.

We should not give him a pass just because he has had a prominent and ostensibly successful career. The amount of power one acquires might impress the Fin Review and the insider class.

I think the criteria for impressiveness should also include the quality of public service and the propensity for doing national good. That most Australians would never have heard of Glyn Davis isn’t a reason to ignore him, either.

GLITTERING

For all his accumulated glittering career prizes, what actually has Glyn Davis achieved, pre-Canberra?

For the high-flying Davis, his public policy career began in Queensland. He was a power figure there too, back in the 1990s and in his thirties. From his initial academic career as a public policy expert, he prospered under both Wayne Goss – he headed up the Office of the Cabinet following the departure of Kevin Rudd in 1994 – and, later, under Peter Beattie, where he headed up the Premier’s Department (from 1998 to 2002).

He has been credited with coming up with the Queensland Smart State nonsense, which made it onto number plates, but achieved little else. It was only ever tarted up industry policy, aka crony capitalism, but with a funky tech edge. Another non-achievement.

Despite Labor’s poor performance over time in Commonwealth electoral politics, Queensland is, indeed a Labor State.

The only LNP governments there since Joh and his immediate Nationals successors have been one term wonders – Rob Borbidge (1996-98) and Campbell Newman (2012-15).

One of the great benefits of long-term time in government is the ability, not just to appoint one’s mates, but to keep them appointed, and so provide them with high level career longevity.

And Glyn Davis is a mate. Part of The Network, in caps. After all, Kevin Rudd asked Davis to co-chair the ludicrous, waste-of-oxygen 2020 Summit back in Rudd’s early years as Prime Minister.

Rudd couldn’t have picked a better man, according to former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.

“Glyn is a strategic thinker. He is the smartest person I have ever worked with,” says Beattie, who was Davis’s boss for four years. “In my view, he is the most powerful intellect in Australia today.”

What Peter Beattie thought or thinks about anything hardly matters. As part of the Queensland Labor Club, well, he would say that.

But Davis a powerful intellect? I am not seeing it.

In return for the Summit gig, Davis launched a volume of Rudd’s memoirs in 2018.

SOFT LANDING

The Nats’ Premier Rob Borbidge got rid of Davis in 1996, and he moved seamlessly back to academia in an easy, soft landing. He become Vice Chancellor at Griffith University in 2002.

The Griffith web site states: “Professor Davis spent nearly twenty years at Griffith, joining as a lecturer in Public Policy in 1985 before being appointed as a Professor in 1998.

“While at Griffith, Professor Davis was awarded the Harkness Fellowship for 1987-1988 to the United States of America and worked at the University of California Berkeley, the Brookings Institution in Washington and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.”

Actually, more like ten years at the university campus. His stints were episodic. And it is interesting that, leaving as a lecturer, he returned, first at professor level, then, a few years later, as Vice Chancellor! Quite the jumps.

Intervening senior public service seems to have counted for much. His public policy gigs resulted from his academic expertise, and his academic gigs resulted from his public service jobs.

Or was he rather simply part of the Labor family and repeatedly in the right place at the right time? (Mind you, the people that universities make professors these days – think Bob Carr and Stan Grant – are enough to make a real scholar blush.)

Then came Melbourne, where Glyn Davis took to the national stage.

In 2005, he moved south to take up the position as Vice Chancellor of Melbourne University, christened by Professor Bunyip (not his real name) as “the Parkville Asylum”.

Melbourne University is a typical Australian Group of Eight university. All tip and no iceberg, as Paul Keating once said (of Peter Costello).

CHANCERS

It is a place, not of scholarship, but of bureaucracy combined with ideology, a place of foreign students who keep the coffers full while setting up their pathway to permanent Australian residency, a place of grant-troughing chancers playing at “research”, a place of wokedom and of climate.

Running the Parkville Asylum for thirteen years paid well and gave Davis prestige and access to the halls of power, but what did his time there achieve?

The Asylum achieved high global university rankings on his watch. So what? All our universities are now odious corporate machines in the business of making money and achieving power. Melbourne is (it is claimed) simply the best of an utterly bad lot.

Global university ranks are worthless baubles that provide bragging rights on your web site.

I once sent Davis a paper I had written (The Sad Universities We Have Become, 2012) and he responded that there was plenty in it to “mull over”.

He also self-described as not being “a declinist”. Suggesting that he believed that our universities were all still hunky dory.

At least he read the paper and responded. But the same Davis had, in 2010, delivered the ABC’s Boyer Lectures which became a book, with the subtitle, “higher learning transforms Australia”.

This was, and is, self-serving rubbish. As public policy disasters go, higher education in western democracies is a policy basket case.

Ever sucking up public resources in the useless and dangerous quest to have just about everyone go to university, our academy turns out illiterate ideologues, fosters embedded radicalism, engages fact checkers who wouldn’t know a fact if it hit them.

Universities are in the business of poisoning minds and lying to the public about everything from climate to COVID. They aid and abet our mass immigration problem by relying on foreign students to keep their numbers up.

BAD

No, higher education has only transformed Australia in a bad way.

Davis has a fantasyland view of our mass higher education system. Of course, he would have that view.

He chaired the Group of Eight elitist universities for a time, and they have been pace-setters among those driving the secular decline of our academy, while at the same time attracting largess from the taxpayer.

They are simply a club for the in-group. A natural home for Glyn Davis.

He introduced the famed “Melbourne model” of differently structured – “standardised” – undergraduate degrees, to decidedly mixed reviews.

It was a utilitarian culling of degrees, with whiffs of new public management thinking dressed up as international best practice and with a nod (only a nod) towards the liberal arts tradition.

I never said Glyn Davis isn’t clever, as the highlighted passage above indicates. More CV building, methinks.

The model also reflected the decline of our halls of learning from training great minds into the mire of career prepping: “The Melbourne curriculum is designed to help students maximise their strengths, discover new ones and stand out in the workplace.” [emphasis added]

Not an advance, then. Being institutionally clever can turn out to be quite a superficial quality. Even dangerous. Just ask Davis’s current boss.

Real liberal arts degrees, like that offered by Campion College Australia, integrate foundational disciplines like literature, philosophy and history and, so, train minds.

Faux generalist undergraduate degrees, like the Melbourne Model, consist of all of the post-modernist tosh-courses they did before the new model was invented. And, just as bad, they were only ever invented with an eye to a student’s future job options. And, arguably, they don’t even do that well.

That Davis either ignored this or never understood it speaks loudly and clearly of his questionable stature as a giant of Australian higher education and public policy.

That he pushed the Model through speaks to his (obviously) well-developed political skills, never in question. Persistence, perhaps, or merely stubbornness.

Davis also acquired for his University the Grattan Institute, funded largely out of taxpayer funds, to employ a massive staff and to produce pedestrian research. Another non-achievement.

Reputationally, and without knowing now whether Airbus Albo will be merely a one term wonder and what political fate will ultimately befall him – the portents are not good, thankfully – it is not likely to end well for Professor Glyn Davis.

Hardly a crowning achievement for a man of such proximity to power, over a lifetime.PC

Paul Collits

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH: Glyn Davis. (courtesy Red Flag)

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