If you’ve seen my weekly emails over the past few months, you have probably heard of Queensland University student Drew Pavlou. The university suspended him in July to the end of the year so he could not sit his final exams or take up his elected university senate seat.
His crime? He led a peaceful protest against the Chinese government’s undue influence on university policies. He is seeking to appeal in Queensland’s Supreme Court, but this can take a very long time.
You may also have heard of Dr Peter Ridd, formerly a physics professor. James Cook University sacked him after he pointed out serious flaws in Great Barrier Reef research by some of his colleagues. He is currently seeking to appeal his unfair dismissal in the High Court.
Then there is Senator Claire Chandler. She was accused of offending transgender people in a newspaper column last July and a subsequent email. The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner said she was potentially guilty.
Chandler had said, correctly, that biological women are up to 30% more at risk of injury when competing against transwomen. She wanted to keep women’s sports, toilets and change rooms for those born female.
The complaint against her was ultimately dropped when she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement. Others who lack the protection of parliament may not be so lucky.
Free speech in this country is under threat today as never before. The Weekend Australian reported yet another case on 24 October. The University of Tasmania Law Review has rejected a paper by Professor Patrick Parkinson, Dean of Law at the University of Queensland.
He was critical of the Tasmanian transgender laws that caused Senator Chandler such grief.
The Tasmanian University Law Review chose referees who said Professor Parkinson’s paper should be rejected. They claimed he used “offensive” terms such as “biological female” and “opposite sex”, and he failed to consider activist and social sciences research.
One reviewer even wanted the paper rejected because it would not “advance human rights”!
James Allan, another law professor, read the two reviewers’ reports. “Both, in my view, failed to do the job expected of referees,” he said (The Australian, 27/10/20).
“Politics trumped the open expression of views that were presented well above the usual standards required to have a paper accepted by a law review.”
James Allan went on: “The core problem then is that as our universities have become increasingly politicised, and faculties of social science, arts and law ever less ‘viewpoint diverse’ … the whole peer review process has become less and less trustworthy. Put more bluntly, this amounts to yet another inroad into free expression.
“… If Parkinson’s experience were a one-off, we could all shrug and move on. But it is not,” he said.
If Professor Parkinson – a respected legal expert – cannot say that the Tasmanian laws are flawed, how can any of us speak the truth publicly about harmful legislation? You, your friends and your pastor are increasingly at risk.
That is why FamilyVoice is campaigning to uphold our fundamental freedoms of speech, association, religion and conscience.
We’d value your prayers and, if possible, a donation at this critical time.
Peter Downie - National Director