Campus free speech: MPs are all ayes

The government’s campus free speech bill was (finally) in the Reps last night for the second reading debate. Progress was never in doubt 

Graham Perrett (Labor-Queensland) argued the bill is unnecessary, that there is no problem with free speech, that the real issue is the lack of government funding and proposed amendments to that effect, “whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading.”

Celia Hammond, (Lib -WA) the former VC of the University of Notre Dame, led for the government, describing the technical content of the bill and making a not especially strong case as to why it is needed now.

Research scientist Katie Allen (Lib – Victoria) spoke more strongly on the importance of campus debate but also suggested some VCs needed to take the issue seriously, that science depended on exchanges of ideas that can be heated and challenging. “Science is a contest of ideas, just like politics.”

A point that Anne Aly, former Curtin U counter-terrorism researcher (Lab-WA) engaged, arguing that the biggest threat to academic freedom are attacks on the humanities by members of the government.

The Senate will be louder and longer.