The Ridd case: what could happen next

James Cook U confirms it will appeal its loss in the Peter Ridd unfair dismissal case, this could raise issues for all universities  

Dr Ridd won his unfair dismissal case in the Federal Court because Judge Vasta concluded his criticism of JCU research on the state of Great Barrier Reef was covered by intellectual freedom protections in the university’s enterprise agreement (CMM April 18).

The university has not announced the grounds for its appeal but JCU watchers suggest if they involve arguing the enterprise agreement protections did not apply the National Tertiary Education Union may feel the need to get involved.

As union federal president Alison Barnes put it in April; “the most important implication of this judgement is that the only real protections for academic freedom in Australia are in the enterprise agreements negotiated by the NTEU. Most universities have policies on academic freedom, but they are completely unenforceable and therefore of very limited value.

“Professor Ridd’s views on climate change would be at odds with the strongly held opinions of many NTEU members. However, that is not the point. The right to speak freely about academic matters needs to be especially protected when views are unpopular or controversial.”


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