This might be good or it might be bad. Via the AFR:
The federal government has widened its planned scrutiny of universities, pointing to “suppression of dissident voices” as one of its reasons for wanting to know more about what happens on campuses.
It will also look at “solicitation of university staff” with offers of travel and economic pressure applied to university management.
The government’s framework for countering foreign interference in universities, seen by The Australian Financial Review, says overseas investment might result in “pressure to placate foreign governments and actors who have different values and objectives”.
The framework states that “Australia’s Director-General of Security has noted the current scale of foreign interference activity against Australia’s interests is unprecedented”.
…”Robust governance arrangements and other mechanisms can help protect against opportunities for these actors to engage in foreign interference activities,” the framework says.
Four committees will offer suggestions on how to prevent the influence.
It’s certainly great that the issue has finally gotten attention. The problem is what is the Government going to do about it? Governance arrangements aren’t going to do much to promote free speech suppressed by the threat of ultra-nationalist violence given how easy it is to bully online, in secret and in China itself. There will need to be enforcement and expulsions.
That raises the issue of reprisals from China, which the Government will be paranoid about.
The obvious solution is simply to cap the numbers of all international students at universities and to boost public funding. Anyone caught intimidating others is expelled and deported. There is no tip-toeing around this issue so just go all in and fix it.
If China is going to punish us for who we are then it’s best to find out as soon as possible, not compromise system into the grave and then do it when it becomes nearly impossible.
Given we’re not far from that already, I worry that this will shape as a white wash.