The University of Adelaide’s decision to give former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer an honorary doctorate has been met with protest. 

On 11 September, Downer spoke to graduates at the university’s Bonython Hall, where a small contingent of protesters from the campus Disarm campaign were waiting. 

Downer was a leading figure in the government that sent troops to invade Iraq in 2003, and he played a prominent role in robbing East Timor of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue.

The university has a clear affinity for ruling class figures and Liberal Party hawks. But it also welcomes militarism and the arms industry, the decision to honour Downer being the latest example. 

As Disarm activist Jack Crawford told Red Flag, “If you’re a student, getting a degree can shackle you with lifelong debt. But if you’re a rich and powerful warmonger, the university will give you a free doctorate”.