Universities attacked over free speech

And it’s more than a go at James Cook U

Last night Government MP Craig Kelly (on Radio National) made the case for the Attorney General funding a test case on campus free speech, if James Cook U appeals its loss in the case against Peter Ridd.  The university dismissed Dr Ridd for claimed misconduct over his criticism of JCU research and researchers. The Federal Court found Dr Ridd was protected by academic comment provisions of the university’s enterprise agreement.

Mr Kelly argued that a university appeal would involve, “significant issues of academic freedom” making it an “exceptional case.”

There was also action in the Senate with new Tasmanian senator Claire Chandler suggesting in her first speech  that legislation requires protection of free speech on campus.

“We are living in a country where universities are shutting down debate, for example by charging exorbitant security fees when certain speakers, generally with viewpoints that differ from predominantly left-wing academics wish to share their perspectives on campus. This progressive shut-down of academic freedom at least to my mind is at best not in the spirit and at worst in complete contravention of the Higher Education Support Act.

“More must be done to ensure our higher education institutions are complying with these basic requirements, if only because no student’s views should ever be dismissed in class purely on the basis of their political affiliation,” Senator Chandler said.

For a maiden speech it sounded remarkably like a notes for a government strategy.


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