Sunday, 15 February 2009

Adelaide 2.0

Yeah, this is my second trip to Adelaide. This time at the invitation of Steve Hamnett to deliver a keynote at the 60th Anniversary Planning Education Celebrations at the University of South Australia. There were 6 keynotes and it turned to be very stimulating. I talked about the megatrends and what planners should do about it. Matthew said it was a roller-coaster ride (my presentation) but it was meant in a good way. It was fun for me, stirring things up a bit.

Now at the Adelaide airport waiting to be allowed into the departure hall. I guess the place is too small to have too many people in. Or perhaps they have deal with the concessoinaires to keep the passengers outside to patronise the shops. Well at least the free wifi is working. I couldn't use the KLIA wifi on the way here.

Talking about KLIA, remember to wipe your hands dry when you come out of the toilet (you do wash your hands everytime after going to the loo don't you? apparently many don't). Well, I normally just shake my hands rigorously to get rid of most of the water - don't want to use the paper towel or the air blower - yah, the little things; do you think they count? will it help to save the world? Probably not, but its really about habits. You gotta start somewhere.

OK, why dry your hands? Well, you will never know who you bum into when you come out of the toilet with you hands wet. It's polite to shake hands with people you meet, especially friends or people you know. Guess who I bummed into? My big boss. "Hey haven't seen you in a long time". Well, yes and no. "You have lost weight". Yes, I have. "Where are you going?". Adelaide, planning conference. "That same 'planning' ..." Yeah, same. "How long?". Three days. "Well, enjoy yourself". And all the while I was trying to wipe my hands off my jeans. But you know jeans and I didn't want to offer a damn hand. So I had to apologise for not being about to take the offered hand. Could be a tricky situation under the wrong circumstances. People could misinterpret.

Which brings me to the grand celebration dinner the other night. Friendly polite speeches which were really entertaining. But even in public, it could get a little hairy. I detected some kind of tension between a couple of the people making speeches. Like an veiled attempt to slight. I thought I detected them and it was subsequently confirmed. But this is tension in all organisations, especially universities. Bureaucrats and administrators just often don't agree on some things. This something we in USM also needs to serious think about. We want autonomy from the Ministry. But people are asking about what does autonomy meaning down the line. The other day I talked to a group of students leaders over lunch and asked them to think what autonomy means to them. I asked my students whether we should abolish the Universities and University Colleges Act (AUKU). Six students said no, because they are concerned subversive elements would lead the students astray. Only 3 said it should be abolished because they thought it inhibits students' development.

Can't we trust students?

The line is now open to go into the departure hall. Gotta go make a contribution to the local economy at the duty-free shop. 2.20 pm

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