Union wants to get involved in James Cook U v Ridd

The National Tertiary Education Union is seeking leave to intervene in James Cook U’s appeal against the Federal Court judgement that it unfairly dismissed scientist Peter Ridd

Justice Rangiah has listed the application for hearing on October 10. The university is appealing Justice Vasta’s ruling that Dr Ridd’s criticism of scientific research at JCU was covered by the JCU Enterprise Agreement and that he was wrongly dismissed for misconduct.

The union’s application is expected to focus on clause 14 of JCU’s 2013 enterprise agreement, which Justice Vasta concluded protected Dr Ridd.

NTEU National President Alison Barnes said 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.”

CMM asked the university if it would oppose the union’s application and yesterday JCU responded “directions have been made and the parties will have an opportunity to be heard.”


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