The Guardian 26 October, 2005

VSU supporter faces sack

A university lecturer targeted by right-wing Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt could lose his job while another, who says people with dark skin have crime in their genes, keeps his. RMIT lecturer Dr Robert Austin, who was criticised in an article by Bolt for his stand against voluntary unionism in August, is fighting to save his position with the university.

Victorian Secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union, Mathew McGowan, says that while no clear reason for Austinís potential dismissal has been offered by the RMIT, questions over his future with the university were raised after the article was published.

"He has certainly had the Andrew Bolt article waived in front of him by management", said Mr McGowan.

A RMIT spokeswoman said the university is unable to comment on individual cases.

Mr Austinís decision to reschedule his classes to allow students to attend the Students National Day of Action Against Voluntary Unionism on August 10 was described as "bullying" in Boltís article.

"If the University is moving to sack Austin because of an Andrew Bolt article it indicates an extraordinary crisis in Australian tertiary education", says Mr McGowan.

He also says Austinís treatment has been far harsher than Sydney based academic Associate Professor Andrew Fraser, whose support for the reintroduction of the White Australia policy just before the student protests, while causing him to be banned from teaching students at Macquarie University, has not meant the loss of his job.

"It is an interesting parallel that someone can maintain their employment relationship under [Fraserís] circumstances while someone mentioned in an Andrew Bolt article faces the termination of their employment", Mr McGowan noted.

In July Fraser claimed that "an expanding black population is a sure-fire recipe for increases in crime, violence and a wide range of other social problems" in a letter to a Sydney newspaper. He also wrote that Chinese immigration directly threatened "social, political and economic interests of ordinary Australians and their children" in an email to a Woollahra councillor, David Shoebridge.

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