Keeping free speech safe

Former chief justice of the High Court, Robert French,  spoke Monday at Charles Darwin U the other day on “free speech and the law on campus. Do we need a charter of rights for universities?” He previously addressed the issue last month as chancellor of the University of Western Australia in a message to the university community. Jointly written with Vice Chancellor Dawn Freshwater, it set out why a speaker who claims transgender people are delusional was being allowed to speak on campus. ““There is an ongoing task to be undertaken within the university about the development of workable principles which strike a balance between the values of respect for human dignity on the one hand and freedom of opinion and expression on the other,” they wrote.

But a couple of days later Professor Freshwater announced the event was cancelled because organisers, had not submitted “a risk assessment and detailed event management plan,” (CMM August 20). As Voltaire did not say “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it, subject to submitting a safety plan.”


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