I have loved the experience of being part of U3APP, of being intellectually stimulated and physically stretched by very proficient and expert tutors. I have been impressed by the ongoing welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, the friendliness of fellow participants and the breadth of offerings. Indeed, I feel as though I have found my tribe.
How long have you been involved with U3APP?
I have been a member of U3A Port Phillip for 6 years. When I retired from full time work, I was very keen to throw myself into some activity, to give structure to my life. A neighbour mentioned U3A and how much she was enjoying studying Italian and the discussions in her book group.
I enrolled, paid my $40.00 and new worlds opened for me. In my first year I was a member of the Film Group, I learnt about The French in North America, I delved into what Shakespeare can tell us about the Human Condition and I studied Italian. And I discovered my tribe. I had not joined U3A to find new friends, but inevitably I did find many people with similar interests and passions and made some enduring friendships.
Since then, I have been Deputy President of the Committee of Management (CoM), Events Manager (while on the CoM), and the coordinator of the Saturday Seminars. I worked as a member of the Covid Working Group with Diane Boyle and Jim Pribble throughout the Covid lock down periods. Additionally, during that period, the Working Group oversaw the production of The story of U3A Port Phillip and its people 2003 to 2021. I have just relinquished the role of seminar coordinator after a period of four years and more than forty seminars.
What did you like about your seminar coordinator role?
I liked the role because it required me to bring all my skills and interests into play. I liked the fact that I had a chance to meet and speak to a wide range of people who agreed to speak, many of whom had national and international profiles, some have since made appearances on national and state TV programs. I liked the idea that Zoom made it possible to have people speak who were not able to attend the Mary Kehoe Centre. I liked the fact that the speakers saw U3APP as a worthy group to speak to and I also liked that many U3APP members who had not participated in the seminar series could now attend without leaving their home. What I particularly liked was the willingness of other U3APP volunteers to contribute to the success of the seminars, the IT Team, Margaret Byron with the design of the flyers, David Robinson with the Newsletter to name a few. In the vast majority of cases the facilitator was also a U3APP volunteer. We all learnt a lot about running, organising, and rehearsing the seminars.
What underpinned my thinking in planning the seminars was to achieve a variety of subjects and to maintain a level of topicality. This made me keep abreast of what would be of interest to U3APP members and what was occurring around us.
I also liked the idea of intellectual rigour in relation to the topics and the speakers. I designed a series of protocols for speakers which included not only being knowledgeable and qualified in their field but being recognised as such by way of publications or in academic terms peer review.
Saturday Seminars at U3APP, when did they commence?
The Saturday Seminars started in 2003, with the formation of U3APP. Heather Wheat, a founding member of U3APP whose role was critical to their development, decided that what was needed for the population of Port Phillip were seminars that would provide educational value and would thereby attract new members. The Saturday Seminars have been a continuous feature of U3APP since then. Pam inherited the Saturday Seminars from Mark Denniston. Mark was the last of a long line of people who had coordinated the seminar program.
Do you have a favourite presentation?
Pam hesitates, Jenny Hocking 10 October 2020 – The Palace Letters and the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government – Why are they important Today?
Jenny Hocking spoke from her home. There were 150 people online, although this is probably an underestimation, given that we know that often two or more people participate on the same connection.
Another special presentation was by Pat Dodson, Father of Reconciliation, who spoke to us from Broome, and of course I should not overlook Dr Andrew Prentice. He gave the first lecture in 2003, he then gave the 10-year celebration lecture and most recently the 20th anniversary of the founding of U3APP on November 18, 2023. (This was the final Saturday seminar organised by Pam).
So, do you think that Saturday Seminars should continue online?
Well, it will depend on what the next organiser would like to do. However, over time, I came to realise the advantages of continuing to run the seminars online. For instance, I was able to organise a presentation by Professor Richard Cullen, from the University of Hong Kong, also the actress Zoe Caldwell’s son who is a stage director speaking from New York, Frank Bongiorno, Professor of History at the ANU speaking from Canberra, Cameron Brown (son of U3APP member, Lois Best) speaking on the Metaverse from Seattle. The IT team could make all that happen, it was incredible. Certainly, on many occasions, the number of U3APP members who tuned in to the online webinars far exceeded the number of people able to fit into the Mary Kehoe Hall
How did you engage your contacts? How difficult was this, given that many would not be informed about U3A, let alone U3APP?
Yes, this is true I used to be constantly seeking possible speakers using, what I read, what I saw, what I heard, who I spoke to, all information into the mix. In other cases, I drew on personal contacts. Another source was to look at what other U3A’s were doing. A major connection I made was with the U3A Deepdene, which has a very solid programme. I became friends with their seminar coordinator, and it was through her that I obtained details of Bruce Wolpe, expert in American politics. U3APP members also gave me contacts, most recently James Walter, Lois Best, Heather Wheat, Mark Denniston and Bronwyn Bryant.
It was by getting to know people at U3APP that I was able to draw on those personal connections. Occasionally I used to ‘cold call’ potential speakers, but that is not easy, if they have no knowledge of the U3A portfolio.
It also helps however that I love history and politics, that I attend various seminars and speaking events and writers’ festivals and that I am a voracious reader,
Returning to everyday life, your family?
I grew up in Ascot Vale. I am the eldest of five children. I had a happy childhood; we were very close as a family and we still are.
My parents, my mother, was a very optimistic and relaxed type of person and had what now would be described as great emotional intelligence. My father always believed that education was totally significant, in terms of providing opportunities in life. Both had joined the workforce during the depression years.
My grandfather lived next door. He was very left wing in his views, also a bit anti Catholic and so he would provoke us, as children, although in a nice way. This contributed to an environment where my father and grandfather would converse openly about levels of social inequality. My family has always been interested in those issues and so from a young age I developed an interest in politics.
In what way did your education during your school years assist with your developing interests?
From an early age there was absolutely no doubt that I, as the eldest, would further my education. In fact, all five of us graduated with university degrees.
I went to a small Catholic School where I was fortunate to have an excellent history teacher. He encouraged me to study and to apply for History Honors at Melbourne University.
Reflecting on her time at Melbourne University, Pam recalls that it opened vistas for me. It was not only that some of the lecturers were fantastic, but the reading was so interesting.
Pam obtained an Honors Degree in History and subsequently a Diploma of Education under a Victorian Government Teaching Studentship, later on Pam completed a Masters of Education.
One of the conditions of Victorian Government Teaching Studentship was that you were bonded. On completion of your studies, you had to go to a school that the Education Department assigned to you.
So, my first teaching experience was at Mildura High School, teaching history. It was a bit of a culture shock for a girl that had grown up in the inner suburbs. I learnt the language of the ‘blockies’, the language of grape growers. There were unexpected delights, but (laughing) I see myself as being very urban, so I applied for and got a lecturing job at the Secondary Teachers College, which later merged into Melbourne University. I lectured in British history for three years.
How did your career progress from then?
While I was working at the Secondary Teachers College a friend went to work in London and suggested that I might like to work in Europe. My father thought this was a terrible idea as I had a good job, but I was 25 and decided to go to London. I have never regretted this.
Pam obtained a position at a Secondary Modern School, in Croydon. She taught British history, the Industrial Revolution and its impact on the workforce. During this time, Pam shared a house with 9 others. This was a bit crazy. We would sit on the stairs to watch television. I enjoyed the lively company, and I formed lifelong friendships with some of the occupants. One of them and his wife joined Rob and I in Florence and then in Norway earlier this year and we had zoom conversation with another last month.
I also did some waitressing in Scotland, I studied Italian in Perugia for 3 months which gave me an ongoing love of Italy.
Pam eventually decided to return to Australia via South America. She applied for and obtained a teaching position at Swinburne Technical College now known as Swinburne University Pam’s enthusiasm continued to facilitate her dedication to education. I loved working at Swinburne TAFE, the experience and knowledge that I gained of the TAFE sector while teaching at Swinburne gave me the basis for all of my future working roles.
While on maternity leave for the birth of James I was offered a curriculum writing role in the Victorian Education Department which led to promotion to the executive level as Senior Policy Analyst. From there I moved to the then recently formed Australian National Training Authority as a Project Director where I remained until the Authority was disbanded by the then Prime Minister John Howard. After a brief period working as a consultant for the Victorian Auditor General’s Office, I was offered a role as Director Policy and Stakeholder Engagement with TAFE Directors Australia where I remained for ten years and where I ended my paid working career. TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) is an association of all Directors of TAFE Institutes across Australia. My role included providing advice on matters of TAFE policy, representing the Association on peak educational groups, and organising the annual three-day national conference involving upwards of 100 keynote and session speakers. The conference was a major event involving senior politicians and industry and education spokespeople from Australia and overseas on topics that were of interest to TAFE directors as CEOs of major companies/organisations, intricately involved with the industries that they served with many thousands of employees and operations in Australia and overseas.
Along the way Pam was a voluntary member of a Regional ACFE Board, the Board of the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, the Board of the Friends of the ABC, the Board of the Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association (America) and President of the Melbourne High School Council (our son James was an MHS student). Pam was only the second woman in the 100-year history of the school to hold this role.
Your other Interests?
History, Books, Films and Travel -probably in that order –
History has been my passion since I was at school. A teacher Vin D’Çruz – instilled in me a lifetime love of the subject. He convinced me that I should do History honours not just a normal history degree and for someone who had no family members with a university background I didn’t really understand what he meant but when I got to University I made sure that I enrolled in History honours. The fact that I only turned sixteen in my year 12 added to my youthful enthusiasm. I have never lost my passion for history – I taught history, co-authored a history text, read history books, watched history programs and visited historical sites and I’ve undertaken a number of U3APP History courses.
It resonates with me about the transformative power of a committed and interested teacher.
What about books?
As I said earlier, I am a voracious reader, I read all the time. Fiction, non-fiction, contemporary works. My favourite authors change over time.
Once it was Patrick White, now I have just finished reading Wifedom by Anna Funder. On the weekend I get several newspapers, sometimes I only have time to skim through them. I like the feel of newspapers. I also subscribe to magazines such as Quarterly Essay, the Monthly, The New Yorker, as well as online articles each day from the Guardian and New York Times and Pearls and Irritations. Richard Cullen still sends me daily readings from Hong Kong, and friends and colleagues regularly send me articles or references to books.
Each year a highlight for me is early March when Rob and I go to the Adelaide Writers Festival- a week of sheer intellectual and social pleasure.
Over my time as a teacher, I was also Co-author of a Year 12 textbook – Australian History: The Occupation of a Continent and a Year 11 textbook – Work in Australian Society. At that time, this was a compulsory subject for all Victorian year 11 VCE students.
What was the focus of this subject?
Jean Blackburn was the educationalist who proposed that this be a compulsory subject for Year 11 students. It used work as a prism to look at society. As in, what is the status of various jobs in society? Who gets paid for what kind of work? What is meant by the unemployment rate, and participation rate? How do women fare in the workplace? What does it mean for migrants who come to Australia? What does work mean for people with disabilities, but also at what kind of rules and regulations govern this work.
This compulsory subject was introduced during a period of Labor government. Our book was distributed by MacMillan Publishers and 30,000 copies were sold.
Returning to your interest in Film?
I have loved films forever. When I was teaching at Mildura High School, I gave a talk on The Servant (1963) with Dirk Bogarde. I joined the film group at the Lyceum Club where I am a member. I like the discussion and often give film reviews, just trying to get to the essence of a particular film.
I also love the U3APP Film group with David Robinson. You watch films you would not necessarily have seen or chosen to see. David chooses an enormous range of films and leads robust discussions.
Rob and I see at least one film a week in a cinema or via streaming.
Like many U3APP members I have travelled extensively since my first overseas trip to Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia at the end of university. What a feast of sites, smells, cultural experiences! I love cities and urban areas with a cultural or historical aspect. I have been to South American jungles, African game parks, American deserts, Norwegian snow country and the Australian outback but my milieu is cities with their architecture and culture.
In 2023 I was in Florence for my sister’s birthday following a trip down the river from Amsterdam to Budapest. Next year Rob and I are going to Crete (for a friend’s birthday), Malta and Sicily. My history interest is winning out.
Your reasons for retiring from your role as U3APP Seminar Coordinator?
Well. I have met some fantastic people; it has been a joy and I have learnt a lot. But there is no doubt that it is time consuming. so, it just seems that it is time for someone else to pick up the baton. I have of course offered to assist with the transition.
I hope the seminars will continue to reflect the aspirations of the founding members.
Plans for the future?
I want to do more of what I enjoy. I want to have more history related learning experiences. I want to attend film festivals, improve my bridge playing, perhaps attend more activities (travel, art, history at the Lyceum Club), spend time with long term friends from university, undertake more U3APP courses and become more involved in some political causes close to my heart.
Pam believes that at U3APP education must be at the heart of things, inclusive of social interaction and social activities which are also invaluable.
Based on an interview by Felicity May of Pam Caven.
As I have become more involved with U3APP, one of the most common comments I’ve heard is “I don’t know what I would do without U3APP”.
Seniors Week made me reflect that as we grow older and wiser, we realise the importance of not only lifelong learning, but how social interaction is paramount to maintaining mental health and wellbeing. I love the buzz in the Mary Kehoe Centre when everyone is coming and going, chatting with friends, meeting new people and enjoying the stimulation offered by the wonderful knowledgeable tutors.
The recent Seniors Festival is a good example of an activity in my CoM role as Events Coordinator.
The City of Port Phillip’s Seniors Festival offered a diverse program of music, dance, workshops, discussion groups, sport and tours, all of which were very well attended.
We have so many talented people in U3APP who contributed to some of these activities. The Art Exhibition in the Mary Kehoe Hall could get no greater compliment than to be admired by people who then asked if the work was for sale – congratulations to all our artists and tutors!
Multicultural Dance – Hoppa Hey, which is always so much fun, had many visitors attend and join in the traditional dances from various countries. Much needed refreshments at the end of the session were welcomed by hot, tired participants.
Finally, the Art and Music Showcase was a full house! The Ukulele group began, playing and singing a number of songs together with cheerful audience participation. The Male Choir, which is becoming well-known in the community, provided an uplifting and varied repertoire. The talented All Sorts played dance and love songs, classic and ragtime pieces, while the Recorder group played a variety of pieces including the Ukrainian National Anthem. Refreshments were served throughout the afternoon. Congratulations to all the musicians and singers and a special thanks to Margo for being the MC for the afternoon.
I returned home yesterday from rehab after a left hip replacement, perhaps one of the few medical conditions that cannot be identified in Shakespeare’s plays.
What a treat to tune into today’s seminar. Associate Professor Louis Roller’s encyclopedia knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays was matched by his love of the Bard’s language. It was a fascinating and memorable presentation that I will revisit via the recording on the U3APP website.
Helen Vorrath was the perfect facilitator, a Shakespeare enthusiast who was clearly engaged.
The speaker, Associate Professor Louis Roller AM, PhC, BPharm, BSc, MSc, PhD, DipEd, FPS, FACPP has been an academic at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Monash University for over 55 years. He was on the Pharmacy Board of Victoria for 22 years, has significantly contributed to many editions of various pharmaceutical compendia including the Therapeutic Guidelines, particularly the Antibiotic Guidelines. He is the author of hundreds of scientific and professional articles and has a passion for evidence-based knowledge.
Pam Caven, Saturday Seminars
Artificial Intelligence: Hype & Reality
Dr Maurita Harney
19 August 2023
Artificial Intelligence: Hype & Reality
- What is it about recent advances in AI that generates so much excitement as well as fear?
- How concerned should we be?
- Can AI develop human qualities such as empathy and sentience?
Dr Harney drew on her considerable research to tackle the seminar questions. While identifying some of the most recent advances in AI (including ChatGTP, and BARD) Dr Harney posed questions: What does it mean to be human? What marks us off from machines? She outlined some of the advances of AI in ecology, medicine, facial recognition, and routine endeavours. She also raised unresolved issues: what do advances in AI mean for our understanding of truth, morality, empathy, creativity?
Overall, AI is changing our society so an overarching question arising from the seminar is “What kind of society do we want to live in”? Can an AI machine turn itself on? It is not exactly clear whether we can still pull out the plug…….we think we can.
Kevin English ably facilitated the seminar.
If you missed the seminar, or would like to see it again, click on this VIDEO of the session.
Pam Caven, Saturday Seminars
This month the guest in the Saturday Seminar was Bruce Wolpe, an academic from the United States Study Centre at the University of Sydney. He is the author of a recent book; Trump’s Australia. Rather than the usual paper or talk delivered, then questions, the session was run as a sort of Q&A session, with Jim Walters talking to Bruce about the issues in his book.
Perhaps if there is a shorthand outline of his thoughts on Trump and Australia it is that there is good news and bad news for Australia, should Trump get re-elected as President.
Firstly, he noted that Trump was not elected by a majority of citizens, but such are the processes and structures that he was able to get the requisite majority of the electoral college to win the day, a process foreign to Australia and Australians. But in answer to the issue of why he could be attractive to so many voters, he suggests that he taps into populist themes of; America first – everything must be in America’s favour, American isolationism – a feeling that Americans should not have to pay for other countries’ problems, and American “native-ism” which is a rejection of immigration.
He also responded to the issue of “Why Trump?”. In brief, he suggests he attracts those who feel left-out and alienated by the changes in the world economic system as it affects the USA; the decline of low-skilled production jobs V high tech, and thus consequent economic insecurity.
The good news is that Bruce feels that the political institutions in Australia are much more robust than the USA. He particularly notes our structure of compulsory voting which reduces the chance of stacked or skewed outcomes. He notes that the Australian PM derives from his/her role (generally) longevity in the party, and thus has experience of dealing with the political structures, although he did not note recent aberration of this in the case of Morrison’s five “ministry” roles. He also notes the great value in our un-politicised Electoral Commission (AEC) where electoral boundaries, etc are changed on a rational, not political advantage basis. Then there is the non-political process of selecting people such as Judges, especially High Court Judges, in contrast to the USA where Trump has been able to select (and have Congress accept) replacement judges which will affect the court decisions for the next two decades. He particularly noted the issue of guns and abortion in relation to this.
He feels that there are some underlying institutional dysfunctions in the American political system. The Presidential system is not working (The President can be a “lame duck”), the Senate is out-of-date because smaller states can have an undue influence on decisions (Vs Australia’s equal representatives) and the issue of the politicisation of courts and selection of judges.
Despite Australia’s robust structures, Bruce still sees some insidious encroachments or reciprocations. He notes things like Trump’s declaration that Nazis are gaining a foothold (something reflected in recent Victorian political fracas), or the “gallows” used in a Victorian anti-Andrews political demonstration which are all probably influenced by events in USA, such as the January 6th “insurrection”. Then there are more subtle “culture” influences such as some anti-Voice pressures, and claims of people afraid to venture onto the streets at night, etc., and the banning of books in libraries. Most disturbing is the possibility that if Trump succeeds and begins to flout the existing US laws, protocols (which he shows signs of doing), it could be the demise of democracy in the USA, with subtle influences on Australia, despite our more robust institutions. An autocratic (or Dictator) Trump could negatively affect Australia’s international relations. For this reason, he suggests, should that happen, Australians should consider “de-coupling” with the USA.
So, for all these reasons, he feels Australians need to keep up an awareness of Trump’s political trajectory and be prepared to understand these existential questions, and deal with them effectively.
But for a better understanding of Bruce’s arguments, read a copy of his book, Trump’s Australia”. And for those begging for more, it may be that Bruce delivers another session next year and keeps us up to date in preparation for November, 2024, the next presidential election date.
A video of the session can be seen HERE.
Report written by Max Nankervis, Saturday Seminar Host
A video of the seminar is available for viewing HERE.
The Saturday Seminar held on 17 June addressed the topic of World Heritage listing, one of the most widely recognised UNESCO programs.
Dr Bill Logan AM has a background in cultural heritage and has been retained as an expert consultant by UNESCO in assessing the claims of several sites in Asia proposed for the list. He described how each nomination must meet criteria such as authenticity and testimony to tradition, as well as having a sustainable management plan. We were amazed to learn that since 1978 some 1,157 sites have been inscribed –most being of cultural/historical importance, others as places of outstanding natural significance.
Dr Joe Hajdu, a cultural geographer, spoke of one listed site – the remarkable complex of public buildings sited on Museum Island in Berlin. The whole has evolved over 200 years and encompasses five separate museum/galleries housing great archaeological monuments, fine art, classical statuary and other historical artefacts. It is regarded as a kind of ‘city crown’ and appreciated as a rare integrated public forum demonstrating the value of preservation, interpretation and display.
We also learnt of UNESCO’s ongoing role in monitoring the integrity of inscribed sites and, on rare occasions, in de-listing them when standards are endangered. A great responsibility indeed!
How many of Australia’s 20 listed sites can you name?
Click HERE for the answer to this question.
Bev Fryer, Saturday Seminar Host
A LIFE IN BOTANIC GARDENS
PROFESSOR TIM ENTWISLE
13 MAY 2023
A Life in Botanic Gardens
Melburnians are rightly proud of their Royal Botanic Gardens, so it was not surprising that Saturday’s seminar, A Life in Botanic Gardens drew a big audience. It was a treat for us in today’s seminar to have a presentation by the Director and CEO of the RBGV, Professor Tim Entwisle.
Botanic gardens are places of healing, solace, and enjoyment; and a cure for the world’s ills according to Professor Entwisle.
Having discovered his passion for plant botany at university his stellar career as a scientist and botanist made him an internationally recognised plant scientist, part of an international science community and took him to very different but fabulous botanic gardens around the world from Padua in Italy to Kew Gardens, to Sydney botanic gardens and finally Melbourne. He indicated that he had been a regular visitor to China where a significant number of botanic gardens are being developed. He mentioned Mexico and more. He was able to bring this inspiration to his work as director of botanic gardens in Sydney, London, and Melbourne.
As well as being a prolific author he brings his message to a wider audience through regular radio broadcasts.
We learnt about his passion for orchids, including (the Flying Duck Orchid (WA) the Star of Bethlehem orchid. “Every plant has a story to tell” and of his interest in marine algae (seaweed) particularly of course Entwisleia red algae.
Kerrie Cross was an enthusiastic facilitator.
See a VIDEO RECORDING of the seminar.
From Pam Caven, Saturday Seminars
IS IT THROUGH POLITICS THAT WE DEFINE THE SOUL OF A NATION?
PROFESSOR FRANK BONGIORNO
18 MARCH 2023
Frank Bongiorno is an acute observer of the Australian political “soul”. He spoke to his most recent publication, Dreamers and Schemers; a political history of Australia.
For most of us we tend to see the beginnings of Australian “political” life at Federation, or perhaps earlier when the colony of New South Wales was sectioned into colonies or states after 1850. But Frank takes the story back much further to the political organisation of the first Nations. What seemed to some Europeans as “disorder” and a lot of babble and talking over each other, was in fact a different form of order.
He then talked of the early European settlement period when authoritarian structures were the game of the day, fearful as many were of the French Revolution and Napoleon, and the American revolt lest they infect locals, especially ex-convicts.
But the second half of the 19th century, he suggests, was one of emerging radicalism, often helped by people such as the Symes of The Age newspaper. But what Australians grappled with in developing their political structures was to meld Westminster structures with Australian geophysical conditions, which also involved including some aspects of American political structures. He felt the Federal “Federation” structure is evidence of this. In this way some political Australian political “protocols” were developed which, for example, came into play when it was discovered that Scott Morrison has transgressed these demarcations in secretly usurping several ministries.
He also saw in the radical 19th century politics of European Australia, the emergence of political possibilities for women, though this is perhaps better understood by a review rather than at the time. Indeed there were hints, as well as actual voting rights well before the official introduction around the first decade of the 20th century.
But for a better understanding of the misogynistic drivel around this topic, you will need to refer to the chapter The New Australia in Frank’s book. Indeed, one of the delights of Frank’s somewhat hefty tome is the fascinating detail of significant political episodes, and political actors (and their words), all written in an entertaining and often amusing style.
The political hot potato of Free Traders versus Protectionists was also both a symptom of and outcome of these “radical” movements, though it was economic protection, not people protection, which held the floor, as seen in the evolution of the White Australia policy.
While the 1930s evidenced more of the radicalism in, for example, Ben Chifley and the pugilistic Jack Lang, post-World War 2 saw a shift to conservatism as demonstrated in the Prime Ministership of Menzies.
Frank’s book tells the story in much more detail – almost mind-blowing detail. It is full of facts and anecdotes of “little-known facts about well-known people” which give colour and dimension to the way in which the political heart and soul of Australia developed.
A VIDEO RECORDING of the seminar can be viewed.
Saturday Seminar Facilitator
GERMANY AFTER MERKEL
DR JOSEPH HAJDU
18 FEBRUARY 2023
Germany after Merkel has changed.
Dr Joseph Hajdu in a highly informative Saturday seminar spoke about Germany post Angela Merkel.
Dr Hajdu described how Angela Merkel served as German Chancellor for 16 years before making the decision to resign. After her departure, Germany the economic powerhouse of Europe had a new “traffic light” Coalition Government comprising the Social Democrats (Red), Liberal Democrats (Yellow), and Greens (Green) led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The charismatic and charming Merkel had been replaced, as Dr Hajdu noted, by a dour but experienced politician from Northern Germany. It was Olaf Scholz ‘s time. It was his task to ensure that the personalities, aspirations, and policies of the Coalition partners melded to achieve effective government.
As Dr Hajdu indicated the transition since Angela Merkel affectionately known as “Mutti” (German for “Mom”) was not easy. The new Government was confronted by two major crises, the advent of COVID and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The era of Merkel had ended. Where Merkel sought to lock Russia into peace via trade the “sleepy giant Germany” reacted to changed circumstances. Scholz maintained that Putin had destroyed European values. The Government now supported a military build-up (an about face after the legacy of World War II). Commercially it sought to protect its industry by seeking alternative sources of gas moving away from Russia but paying three times as much. Overall Dr Hajdu outlined how in response to these crises the German Coalition Government had achieved a common purpose and risen to the occasion.
A VIDEO RECORDING of the seminar can be viewed.
From Pam Caven, Saturday Seminars