That would be Steven Joyce describing university councils, but he could be describing any democratic governance – including parliament.
Dictatorship is so much more efficient. That’s why we praise the likes of Bainimarama. The getting rid of “large unwieldy representative bodies” is such a good aim. Makes things faster.
Even better to appoint, rather than elect the small ruling elite. Democracy can be so messy, people might not vote for the right thing (see ECAN).
So universities, those independent institutions, with academics free to critique and keep in check intellectually such people as the government… Will have the government limit their governance and appoint up to half their ruling councils. Staff and students will not have guaranteed (elected) representation on institutions in which they are the vital part.
Does that sound like an attempt to neutralise any opposition to you? Of course they scarcely need to – they have academics by the funding. Ever tighter funding, with academics spending more and more time helping more and more students achieve the grades to keep funding, never mind the research – and they wonder why our university rankings are dropping.
We’ve talked on this site about National’s contempt for democracy before, but here it is explicitly stated again, this time by Joyce. Getting reasonable representation by having a decent size body with elected interest groups is “slow” and “unwieldy”.
Yes small appointed groups will make faster decisions. But they may well not make better ones, or fairer ones. Democracy is an important check and balance on power – as are independent academics. This move by Joyce is an attack on 2 important conventions.