Video: Laughing at Aborigines? – Tough Questions for QUT…
This is to notify you that John Hookham and I have reached a settlement with the university. The details of the settlement are confidential but the upshot is that I have resigned from QUT. I had intended to accept the university’s first offer which we had reached as a settlement of the Federal Court proceedings. That settlement awarded me $100,000 dollars in damages plus costs. The findings of the misconduct tribunal conducted by Barry Nutter were also set aside and my suspension was lifted.
I wished in those circumstances to fulfill my promise to my students to return to work. However on Friday afternoon when John Hookham and I went back to Kelvin Grove Campus to get some personal belongings, we were refused entry. In what was the ugliest scene of my professional career a young post graduate student slammed the door against me. Fortunately I was not injured. I am 65 years old. I have a bad back and am being treated for a serious heart condition. The young man who endeavored to ram the door against me was not alive when I began to teach at Kelvin Grove Campus. I wish to say that my career at QUT spans four decades. I have worked for principals and directors who never agreed with my politics and who no doubt regarded me as a nuisance. But to be fair to them they respected my right to dissent. Moreover they would never have tolerated the kind of vigilantism that I was subjected to on Friday.
I hold no enmity against the post graduate student who attacked me, but his actions brought home very forcibly to me that I was not safe at QUT and accordingly I yielded to the urgings of my doctors and my lawyers and I resigned.
I wish now to thank you for your support. I and my family have endured dark hours in this struggle. At times it looked like John and I would be crushed and driven into penury. But thanks to your help and the courage and tenacity of my wonderful and brilliant lawyers Stephen Kerin and Susan Moriarty, I and John have survived. I thank you all again from my heart.
It is a terrible thing to pick out a few from the many people who have walked with me through these dark hours. I wish first to name those former colleagues Hugh Childers, Noel Preston, John Bisset, Merv Welch, Graham Bruce and Nea Stewart-Dore. The warmth of their support was a bitter sweet reminder to me of what teaching at QUT used to be like. In this context I wish to mention my personal and professional debt to the late Basil Shaw, Ken Leask and Clem Young. They were great educators, whose example and spirit were always with me in the decades that I have worked at QUT. From them I learned that any leadership in education which is not based on ethics and morality will be as nothing.
I cannot name all those current staff and students at QUT who have given me support for obvious reasons. But I can and will express my deepest thanks to Alan Jones from 2GB. He and I are from different ends of the political spectrum, yet when I sought his help he did not hesitate to put my case to his audience. For that decency I can never thank him enough. He will always have my prayers. I also wish to mention my old and honoured friend Mildred Grant whom fate and the powers have given to me as a gift and an inspiration. For over 12 years we have met every Sunday to read our Shakespeare and, when I can prevail upon her, my beloved Dickens. She is now in her tenth decade and is very frail but she has been with me always in the worst times. I wish also to speak of the brave Adrian Strong whose videos on < youtube.com/globaldawning > have documented our struggles and agonies.
I must say a special thanks to those members of the disability community who expressed to me and John their support and thanks. I offer as well a special thanks to my good comrades- Lou Proyect whose Marxism list is a bright light in a dark world; Sam Watson -Indigenous Activist extraordinaire; Ciaron O’Reilly of the Catholic Workers, and Jim McIlroy of the Socialist Alliance.
In addition I give thanks to Brian Laver who has endeavored over the years to explain to me the necessity of speaking truth to power as well as to domination and who did not betray those ideals as he stood by my side in person, with spirit and at court against the might of QUT. I must make mention too of the fearless historian Ross Fitzgerald who spoke out for me and John, though I have been critical to the point of cruelty of him in the past. But he is a good man whose commitment to free speech is non-negotiable and he has acted accordingly, although he appears to have paid a great price for speaking out in support of John and me. To my family in Ireland, America and here in Australia I return fully the love you have given me in such abundance.
I ask you all now to know that I have survived and am well.
1st November 2007