News National The racist emails from Abbott’s curriculum expert

The racist emails from Abbott’s curriculum expert

A notice put on Professor Spurr's office door by protesting students.
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Details of racist emails sent by a poetry professor who worked on the Abbott Government’s review of the national school curriculum have been released.

The emails were written by Professor Barry Spurr, who has been suspended by the University of Sydney while they are investigated. The university has also launched an investigation into whether Professor Spurr’s emails were hacked.

• Professor investigated for racial slurs
• Simplified curriculum expected

In the emails, Professor Spurr refers to “Abos”, “Mussies” and “chinky-poos”.

Barry Spurr has been stood down.
Barry Spurr has been stood down.

He questions the choice of Adam Goodes as Australian of the Year, refers to a house of Aboriginal people as a human “rubbish tip”, and calls Prime Minister Tony Abbott an “Abo lover”.

The emails were released by the New Matilda website in response to allegations that it had quoted Professor Spurr out of context.

Professor Spurr insisted that the emails were part of a “whimsical linguistic game” that he was playing with a friend.

While Education Minister Christopher Pyne last week distance the government from Professor Spurr, pointing out that he was selected by the people heading the review, not the government, Prime Minister Tony Abbott laughed off his comments.

“I haven’t had much of a chance to read it yet and I’m not easily upset, I’ve got to say, so I’ll study it closely,” Mr Abbott said.

The emails published by New Matilda reveal that some of the emails had multiple recipients.

The emails include:

Human rubbish

Complaining to a friend that taxpayer money was spent by the government on buying a “dear little terrace” and giving it to an Aboriginal family.

Professor Spurr writes: “It is now utterly destroyed, with its contents and smashed … empty booze bottles …

“These are the people whose ‘ancient wisdom’, our V-C says, we should respect, and to whom we apologise on every possible occasion and whose rich culture we bow down before, confessing our wickedness in our mistreatment of them …

“I wonder how he’d like these manifestations of ancient wisdom living next door. The immediate neighbours tell me it has been hell on earth and, of course, their property values have plummeted.

“They’re living next door to a rubbish tip: human and material.”

The sexual assault

An email in which a friend told him of an incident in the corporate world in which a “worthless slut” at a party went to bed, but found that a man had put his penis in her mouth – “as you do” –  and had reported the incident to the police, which would cause the man serious trouble and imprisonment.

Professor Spurr responded: “Ye gods, I think she needs a lot put in her mouth, permanently, and then stitched up”.

Professor Spurr mocked the choice of Adam Goodes as Australian of the Year.
Professor Spurr mocked the choice of Adam Goodes as Australian of the Year. Photo: Getty

Adam Goodes

Professor Spurr writes to a friend and colleague under the subject of “Osrayan of the Year”, saying that, as an Aborigine, a sportsman and a descendant of a member of the “Stolen Generation”, Adam Goodes ticks “all the correct boxes”.

“Now all we need to know is that he suffers from ‘depression’ and has a disability, and he becomes the complete role model for Australians today.

“In his acceptance speech, all he talked about was racism and every time he said ‘Australia’ he mispronounced it.

“Abbott wants this so he can combine it with the inclusion of Abos in the Constitution later this year – his version of Rudd’s apology and perpetuating the black armband – to show that he really is a sensitive guy after all.”

‘No fatties, darkies or chinky-poos’

Sending a friend a documentary on the royal family, including an excerpt of Australian school children celebrating Elizabeth becoming Queen in 1952. Professor Spurr remarks: “No fatties, darkies or chinky-poos.”

Nostalgia for White Australia

Receiving a 1954 documentary on Perth from a friend, and replying: “No Abos, Chinky-poos, Mussies, graffiti, piercings, jeans, tattoos. BCP in all Anglican chruches; Latin Mass in all Roman ones. Not a woman to be seen in a sanctuary anywhere. And no obese fatsoes. All the kiddies slim and bright eyed. Now utterly gone with the wind.”

Professor Spurr mocked singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Photo: Getty
Professor Spurr mocked singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Photo: Getty

Welcome to country

Complains about a ‘welcome to country’ for the royals in 2014, featuring “Wingabanga Gumberumbul”, presumably a deliberate mis-spelling of indigenous singer Gurrumul Yunupingu.

“We have thousands of brilliant young Australian musicians, including the wonderful Nicole Car (who would wear her bra under her dress), currently on the brink of an international operatic career. Why aren’t they asked to perform?

Abbott’s to blame for this. This is his day with them, his reception. He should have put his foot down and said, ‘No more Abos’. But he’s as gutless and hypocritical as the rest of them. No doubt Peta Whatsername said ‘Do it Tony. It makes you look like a sensitive guy’.”

The curriculum

Complains to two friends that there are repeated references to “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ on the local curriculum, comparing it unfavourably with the Californian curriculum, which “does not ONCE mention native Americans and has only a very slight representation of African-American literature (which, unlike Abo literature, actually exists and has some distinguished productions).

He goes on to complain about one Sydney school at which the original owners are acknowledged every day. “No flag-raising or national anthem – just this, every day … If ever an education system needed a bomb under it, it’s ours.”

Show me some respect

Railing against a university employee referred to him as “Barry”, not his proper title, in correspondence with a student.

Bad grammar

Complains to a friend that the university’s new chancellor does not seem to know that “alumni” is singular, “alumnus” plural.

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