Coalition child: Fine unis to enforce my version of free speech

Honestly, how does this pass as serious debate:

Liberal senator James Paterson has called for universities to face fines for failing to uphold free speech, claiming that financial penalties would go some way to preventing the “administrative cowardice” behind the Australian National University’s decision to scrap plans for a course in Western civilisation.

As debate continues around the university’s contentious withdrawal from negotiations with the Ramsay Centre, Senator Paterson said ANU was not alone in ­caving to pressure from “ideological interest groups” and it was up to the federal government to ensure that universities’ financial interests were aligned with “upholding values of intellectual freedom, free speech and viewpoint diversity”.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham, who oversees the university sector, which will receive $17 billion in government funding this year, did not rule out the proposal.

I’d be happy to see Western Studies that examined the pros and cons of our culture. But it’s up to the unis, especially if the funding is privately sourced and comes with strings attached. It’s no different to Chinese bribery.

Paterson is nothing more than a child aping grown-ups in a party that should know better.

Houses and Holes
Latest posts by Houses and Holes (see all)


  1. surflessMEMBER

    As the liberal party is assimilated by the IPA drones, expect further collective minds crap.

  2. He’s an idiot but given QUT acquiesced over a couple of their students being bankrupted defending themselves at the HRC for engaging in free speech, fair’s fair.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      That case was not about ‘Free Speech’ at all, because none of the people sued have written the offending remark on Facebook.

      The travesty of justice lies with how it took the Human Right Commission took 15 months to work on the complaint, and how the QUT told the student ‘they don’t need to attend’ the conciliatory session. The person who took them to the Federal Court under 18C was not the HRC, but Cynthia Prior, and she ended up having to pay a 6 figure court cost when the case was thrown out straight away. (60k of which was crowd funded.. wtf??)

  3. “upholding values of intellectual freedom, free speech and viewpoint diversity”.

    As if this ever exisited in this country.
    Bunch of wankers the lot of them.

  4. anu are a pack of creeps. along with u-melbourne they seem to be taking a route towards americanising their institutions/entrance methods, with melbourne’s move to general education undergrad degrees and ANU’s new “extra curricular” entrance requirements. this stuff is toxic and will ruin our universities even more than they have been already if it is allowed to spread. we should be taking about that stuff instead; it’s way more important than whether there should be another useless b-arts course where people can study shakespeare and cicero so they can end up unemployed later.

    i don’t care about james patterson’s stick up the bumhole “western studies” shite but anything that puts the screws on these people is ok by me.

    • Agree completely with this.
      From what I have seen of the “extra-curricular” thing it is particularly chilling – designed to weed out everyone below upper-middle class. But we are a bloody long way down that road already.

  5. I thought Richie Rich was a fictional cartoon character from the USA? Has anyone checked his nationality? Can he be fined for Trademark infringement?

    And can Australian citizens fine their politicians for being dicks?

    If you go to the mythic Western Civilisation course website you see John Howard’s head and Tony Abbott’s pop up as the brains and management behind it.

    What university want’s to run a course headed by people who set out to destroy universities by a neoliberal race to the bottom of the pond? And what university course going back to the dawn of time was fronted by a sitting member of parliament (and major dick) and an ex-PM with an axe to grind?

    Such a course on western civilisation is a good idea – but not run by and supported by complete neoliberal dicks.

    Myself, I’d forgo the fine income if a dunking chair could be installed on Lake Burley Griffin. Let’s face it, James has permanently lank hair given that he is naturally oily. He’s visual appearance won’t be affected by a good dunking from time to time even if it will scare the carp and leave a nasty oily slick in the water.

    Jesus…you can’t make this sort of shit up. These people are nuts.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      If they want to defend free speech, then first they must legislate it, like in a Bill of Rights.
      The highest court in the land found that “Free speech “was only inferred.

      • Mark HeydonMEMBER

        Too right.

        IPA conception of free speech is generally “I am free to speak and you are too if you say things agreeing with my view”.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        IPA conception of free speech is generally “I am free to speak and you are too if you say things agreeing with my view”.

        And “you must listen to my speech and accept it, criticism is no different to censorship”.

      • FiftiesFibroShack

        It doesn’t take much reading between the lines, or just plain reading, to see that the ‘free speech’ debate is more about freedom from criticism. There is plenty of crossover with ‘political correctness’ whinging too.

  6. Obviously the dude doesn’t know only a (lawful) court can impose a fine after following due process/procedural fairness. Hence I don’t pay infringement notices. But I wouldn’t expect less from a Senator.

    • HadronCollision

      What what what?

      Let me get this right, you don’t pay parking fines? Speeding? What about fines for not paying your rates etc

    • JHC Due process and procedural fairness????
      Strewth! The minute a private citizen, who is not SERIOUSLY MEGA rich, has a brush with a lawyer, let alone ending up in Court, he is absolutely and totally screwed over.
      Organisations like the HRC can drag people through courts over whatever trivial matter at no cost to themselves. Yet the moment an individual is served whatever notice, whether totally guilty or totally innocent, his/her life is ruined forever. HRC members just go on getting their monumental salaries. No penalties if something is found frivolous. No way for an ordinary person to get compensated against them.
      There are some damned funny ideas around here as to what constitutes either fairness or free speech. Much the same as the universities I guess.
      These processes are fair???? J wept!

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        As has been pointed out to you multiple times, the HRC doesn’t take anybody to court.

  7. Perhaps, but a better discussion would be to have universities justify a lot of their humanities/arts bachelor degree programs/majors, particularly those that have reduce the intelligence and general education of their students and the greater public – Gender Studies being one of the primary ones that should be shit-canned.

    • The problem goes hand-in-hand with the growth models that universities have embraced to chase Commonwealth and International funding. These sorts of identity-backed degrees simply reflect (A) the demand-driven model, where universities are incentivised to attract students even if they don’t really educate them… and (B) the increasing artisanship of the service economy- gender studies and similar are the education sector equivalent of the deconstructed coffee – a specialised education targeted to fit “you as a person”.

      It’s also worth mentioning that the humanities was once the heart of universities, and technical colleges might have been a surer path into the workforce. These days universities get to look like a path into the workforce, act like cynical degree mills in reality, and talk like they are predominantly places of higher learning and research (who are definitely not accountable for student outcomes, by the way!!!). This is something that needs to be cleaned up.

      Personally I suspect the humanities is also plagued by
      – Publish or perish, with “identity” acting as a multiplier of academic content and a vehicle for academic careers. Imagine if you could overnight double the possible number of papers in your discipline by rewriting every existing one using the theoretical perspective of a newly minted brand of human being.
      – Alignment with the current “elite morality”. Much as universities were once places founded by religious powers or nations, maybe they are now part of the world of global capital, and maybe it’s no wonder that the dominant ideas in the humanities assume humans to be (above all else) members of abstract identities or demographics which determine who they are.

  8. FiftiesFibroShack

    Imagine the tossers that would sign up for that course. They’d be on par to gender studies, though possibly more annoying and certainly more entitled.

  9. It’s no different to Chinese bribery””
    So a course that recommends the study of Western culture, it’s origins, language and processes is the same as the Government influence that you constantly so roundly rant about in these pages???

    • Does seem more than a touch hyperbolic. I understand the underlying moral principles at play but HnH of all people should know when a difference in quantity becomes a difference in quality.

  10. This is the muppet who used his inaugural speech in Parliament to call for Australia to move its embassy in Israel from tel aviv to Jerusalem.

    He’s as captured as they come.

  11. Am I concerned by the influence of China; yes however the rise of Conservatism worries me more.

  12. MB website turns more lefty by the day. On top of no tax cuts for the 20% rich who pay 80% of the tax – and increasing; now we can’t posdibly have a Western Civilisation course because conservatives prompted the idea.
    But Islamic and Chinese studies centres funded by Iran and a China are fine. And ‘humanities’ courses which view the world through tribes by gender, race, sex, sexuslity are just fine. No problem. Even though that path leads to strife when the currently silent and tolerant majority decide to start playing identity politics.
    Can MB stick to economics and house prices as this leftist commentary is getting really annoying.