Hmmm, the author of the study reported here is a leading researcher at an “independent” think-tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, established by the Howard Government. Do you think that the results of any research it does will be “fair and balanced”. The ASPI is headed by a retired Major General with 37 years in the armed forces.
The author, Dr Anthony Bergin, is a member of a group calling itself Research Network for a Secure Australia. He’s also done work for the Australian Homeland Security Research Centre. Hardly disinterested observers, and certainly aligned with Howard government priorities.
So the study reported here is not new. In 2006 the AHSRC published a briefing note, here’s a brief extract:
Since 2001, there has been a significant increase
in the attention given to university campuses by
intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the
world. Their interest in so-called ‘people of interest’
has led to warrants for information from universities,
covert surveillance operations and informal requests to
‘keep an eye on’ certain people.
This worldwide trend is due to the fact that universities
have been linked with terrorism in four ways.
Firstly, universities have facilitated visas for overseas
students which have provided cover for them to enter
Secondly, universities have provided the education
of future terrorists, notably in engineering and other
Thirdly, universities have provided a source of material,
such as chemicals and electronics, for weapons.
Finally, universities have been a place where an
interest in radicalisation has been fostered and
terrorist members recruited. Few university students
and staff have undertaken terrorist acts while at
the universities but their university years have been
important in shaping their attitudes and belief in
This really is crazy talk and terror-frame scare-tactics. It’s a renewal of Cold War ideologies – the threat from the young and the disaffected. The centre’s research outputs include missives on the role of public servants in combating terrorism and privatising security. These are hard-nosed warriors, not some MoR and “independent” researchers. Funny thought that this is not picked up in the SMH story.
The idea that lecturers should monitor students for “extremist behaviour” is a broad call and certainly open to wide abuses.
Universities have long been recruiting grounds for both the Christian evangelicals and the broad left. In the current climate the evangelicals are winning.