Northern based Government Senator Ian Macdonald has moved to protect freedom of speech in our universities, raising concerns in the Federal Parliament today about James Cook University’s (JCU) decision to sack Professor Peter Ridd.
Senator Macdonald said the right to voice an alternative viewpoint should be protected at all costs, particularly when it comes to academia.
“I have enormous respect for the work of JCU and have been a long-time supporter of the educational institution,” Senator Macdonald said.
“However I’m extremely disappointed in the position taken by JCU around Professor Ridd’s decision to speak out about the need for more peer reviews and better quality assurance to ensure big ticket government spend items are in fact necessary and that the science behind them is right.
“I do acknowledge that in private correspondence JCU have assured me that the differences of opinion were not the reason for the separation of the University and Professor Ridd.
“But I know there are many people across the nation who agree that his comments were sensible and that he was simply voicing a different opinion to that of the mob mentality.
“Sadly, JCU also came under fire in recent years for its treatment of highly respected late Professor Bob Carter for his views on climate change.
“It is a great shame that JCU now suffers from a perception that it is willing to get rid of those who don’t agree with the herd mentality.
“Interestingly, both Professor Carter and Professor Ridd share views with many North Queenslanders who have based their opinions on a lifetime of observations and not a tiny window of scientific data.”