30,000 stand behind international student whistleblower

Dr Schroeder-Turk was one of three whistle-blowing academics that appeared on ABC Four Corners’ Cash Cows report warning of deteriorating entry and teaching standards following a 92% increase in international student enrolments at Murdoch University between 2017 and 2018.

Murdoch University claims the negative media exposure has caused international students enrolments to slump and, therefore, is pursuing damages from Dr Schroeder-Turk.

The case has prompted an outpouring of support for Dr Schroeder-Turk from both domestic and foreign sources.

Soon after the legal action was announced, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) launched an online petition named #IStandWithGerd, which called for the case to be dropped along with the protection of academic freedoms.

A group of 23 academics in Australia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland and the United States also lambasted Murdoch University in a joint statement:

“We are appalled by the continued harassment of Schroeder-Turk,” the group said. “The legal suit against him is designed to intimidate him, and future whistleblowers into silence.

“This is extraordinary behaviour from senior ranks of an institution dedicated to higher learning”…

“Schroeder-Turk and his colleagues are trying to protect the international students from exploitation while ensuring the long term reputation of Murdoch University is maintained…

“We consider the attacks on Schroeder-Turk and his colleagues a dangerous precedent. It must be challenged, in order to maintain the ideal of a university as a forum for open debate and fearless exposure of dubious practices within academic institutions in Australia.”

Whereas 57 of Australia’s top academics also demanded the lawsuit be dropped:

“It is a long-established principle of academic freedom that academics must be able to criticise university governance. This right is especially important where aspects of university governance might compromise the integrity of teaching and research.”

“The claim for damages is highly intimidatory to all Australian academics and therefore risks the capacity of Murdoch University and all Australian universities to pursue excellence in research and teaching.”

“We urge you to withdraw the claim, to settle any dispute without punitive measures, and to affirm the commitment of Murdoch University to academic freedom as an essential university value”…

Last but not least, a petition containing nearly 30,000 signatures from more than 60 countries has been delivered to Murdoch University’s new chancellor, Gary Smith, calling for all legal action to cease immediately:

Gary Smith only took up his role on 8 August 2019. Hopefully, he has the fortitude to persuade the top brass at Murdoch University to drop its lawsuit.

Because if Dr Schroeder-Turk loses, and ends up being forced to pay compensation, then it will prevent academics from speaking out against the international student scandal and the marketisation of Australia’s university system.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. There’s several major failings around this story. But, if you focus on the specific treatment of this man and the makers of the decisions behind the scenes that has eventuated this absurd situation it cannot be denied that this is a direct result and simply another horrendous outcome of a culture of promotion on the basis of being a woman (Eeva Leinonen et al) and the increased prevalence of incompetent women in positions of power.

    Yes, incompetent men get to positions of power too but they are customarily and fiercely held to account, freely criticised and don’t last long. Criticise a woman’s ability in Australia and you will be outcast and considered s3xist. It is virtually a criminal offence to do so in Australia. Incompetent women are not only untouchable but celebrated in Australia. This ideology has undeniably led to this situation of this professor.

        • HadronCollisionMEMBER

          Currently work in public org 6000 employees
          Have worked in private orgs many many more than that

          • Yeah, for sure that happens. What is far more prevalent, even these days, though is some know-it-all over-confident wanker manages to rise the level he thinks he is entitled to rather than to the level his abilities warrant. Besides, this bleating about female advantage is a red herring on this thread.

          • It is a red herring on this thread. Except it is a symptom of the broader intellectually weak postmodern ideology at play, that amongst other things, is happy to weaken academic standards and our institutions or who see a virtue in populating key academic technical positions with identity obsessed sociologists.

          • And you haven’t seen women pushed up just to fill quotas?????

            Perhaps this is the part that was giving him the most LOLs:

            Yes, incompetent men get to positions of power too but they are customarily and fiercely held to account, freely criticised and don’t last long.

    • 100% It happens in my company but gets glossed over and then we have a distraction like an inclusion and diversity luncheon or someone gets nominated for a Women in IT style award. Meanwhile, the people dealing with the fallout from bad decisions have to grin and bear it as they know anyhthing said will fall on deaf ears.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        I do think that chicks that aren’t the best looking should be allocated IT roles as that is a suitable vocation for them.

        • Ah, I thought you’d be advocating the lack of footwear, kitchen duties and heavily pregnant… imagine my disappointment!

          Unless, you’re replacing the home kitchen with the office kitchen?

    • Incompetent women are not only untouchable but celebrated in Australia.

      This is not quite true. Incompetent conservative hacks like Gladys Yu, Michaela Cash, etc. are untouchable.

      Julia Gillard was criticised non-stop for not having children, not being married, the clothes she wore, selling her house years ago (investigated multiple times and found to have done nothing wrong), etc.

      She introduced useful shit like the NDIS, the future of financial advice laws, the emissions trading scheme, etc.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        Yeah but she didn’t look or sound the best so that frontline position had to be taken away from her. Only hot chicks should be front and centre as they attract more attention from men, and lezzos too I guess. And other hot birds want to be like them

        • Or they could all coo together on Monday Q&A about some alternative universe where apparently it’s ok to become violent if needs permit but only if you have a v4g

        • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

          How very Woke of you Reusa to include the preferences of Lezzos in your considerations.
          Your more Progressive than many here give you credit for.

      • Gillard said she does not want a big Australia and then refused to cut immigration!

        Jacinda did the same thing!

        It is an absolute dystopia.

        Gillard refused to touch negative gearing, refused to touch franking credits, she gave 457 visas to KFC, she created the private TAFE rort. She forced single mothers to work as strippers because she cut child rearing subsidies.

    • rob barrattMEMBER

      You DO know the Curse of the Triggs will be upon you for this…… You have just abrogated your right to human rights…. Oh wait.. wasn’t she promoted to the UN after such a successful career with AHRC?
      Phew! You escape on a technicality.

  2. “Murdoch University claims the negative media exposure has caused international students enrolments to slump…”

    Damnum Absque Injuria

    Murdoch (a university) seeks to prove that the truth has been injurious to an academic institution.

    It does so whilst having a Code of Conduct online that says (see Section 2):

    “The University recognises and protects the concept and practice of academic freedom as essential to the proper conduct of teaching, research and scholarship within the University, within the academic context and exclusive of processes in relation to service provision and functionality of the University.”


    So, without a net Murdoch is going to prove in a court that despite this 1. The claims had no merit; 2. Dr Schroeder-Turk was not using freedoms clearly provided in the university’s own staff code; 3. Damages due to truth that cause a financial loss to Murdoch require legal remedy. Apparently this loss is a greater injury than that sustained by an academic institution that is known to sue its academics.

    Murdoch is in a no win situation. The VC and her gang of high paid bean counters and corporate thuggetts are going down either way.

    • Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. That said, their legal advisors appear bullish on the case’s prospects. Surely, if it were a lost cause they’d have advised against pursuing it at the outset.

    • Good point Clive, however wrt “Damnum Absque Injuria” I’m not so sure that the legal system of nanny state Australia still respects these foundation stones upon which the western legal system is built. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for anyone in power to acknowledge that their Injury was not directly caused of the actions of the academic.
      Most people that believe in the nanny state also believe that their own virtuous actions could not have caused harm to their business and therefore seek to blame all their problems on the actions of others, even when those actions clearly caused no direct harm.

    • This action is NOT about winning in court. It is about bankrupting him through legal fees thereby deterring others from speaking out.

  3. Because if Dr Schroeder-Turk loses, and ends up being forced to pay compensation, then it will prevent academics from speaking out against the international student scandal and the marketisation of Australia’s university system.

    this is exactly what Scomo wants, stop protests against corporations

    • It’s exactly what any big organisation wants.
      -That’s why the AFP has raided journos.
      -That’s why Assange sits in jail.
      -That’s why there’s an ATO whistleblower facing 163 years in jail.
      -That’s why Dutton keeps records of your website visits and calls.

      Murdoch Uni wants to create fear.

    • Strange Economics

      If Murdoch threatens to sue and shuts him down, Then we will have achieved 1 more “Quiet Australian”.

      Whistle blowers are just noisy protestors.

      Don’t want whistle blowers stopping the traffic while people are quietly going about their business.

      (traffic of overseas enrolments for 12$ /hour jobs))
      Next thing they will be noisy about lots of other rorts.

  4. Jevons ghostMEMBER

    30000 stand BEHIND him. But not a toot from any of them apparently. So when will we see a few of those aforementioned worthies come forward to stand WITH him?

  5. Perhaps he should have done the Izzy, and said “cash cows will burn in hell”. Then he’d be protected.

    • Yeah, but Jebus didn’t say ‘thou shalt not destroy thy children’s future by demeaning thy academic standards’, now, did he?

      • You know, I used to think (somewhat by default, perhaps) that the declining influence of Jebus on governments was a great and wonderful thing and an enabler of progress.

        Once I discovered this blind spot and actually gave the matter some conscious contemplation, I think it’s actually not true. Reflecting on history, it is hard not to conclude that the christian church (of various stripes/sub-sects) and the attendant religious faith(s) was actually a civilising and beneficial influence that seems almost indispensable to the development of the nations that we look at as being the best examples of western civilisation. Somehow it’s the christian democracies that created the best standards of living for their denizens.

        The wane of religiosity in state matters for western christian democracies (and the attempt to compete with less civilised nations on their less civilised terms) curiously coincides with the backsliding into all the recent evils – wage theft, destruction of middle class, cronyism, etc…..

        (Before people get all riled up, I know that enormous atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, including christianity of various flavours)

        • Isn’t scummo an ultrareligious pentacostal who refuses to answer whether he has ever spoken in tongues. Not too mention most of his fellow LNP colleagues love a bit of religion, or at least the appearance of it.
          What we really need is a change to the electoral/decision making system in Australia to make corruption more difficult. Direct democracy would be a good start.

          • Scummo is a dude who would sell his own grandmother, if the price was right. I’m not talking about shtcnts like him.

            I’m talking about governments where religious faith and principles shaped their worldview and guided their actions.

        • Unfortunately Peachy, looking at the experience of the last 10-15 yrs in Oz and the USA, we have seen increasing bible bashing from the (rightwing?) political elites.

          Ironically, in Oz, the no. of citizens saying they are not religious is increasing. An inverse relationship?

        • You may be on to something here. I would say it’s down to the fact that the kind of person who goes into politics is unlikely to do the right thing unless he/she had the fear of a vengeful god to guide his/her actions. Most of us don’t need that, but politicians ain’t most of us, thankfully.

          • Yep – that’s definitely part of it.

            If you don’t have a vengeful god out there to be concerned about, and you’re the sort of person that went into politics, chances are you’ll be a right deplorable immoral kent.

  6. I would have thought this legal action was a good thing to further highlighting this rort. But being Australia there will hand wringing and then no change.

  7. These Uni vice chancellors know all the CEO rorting tricks, from The SMH yesterday:

    One of NSW’s highest-paid vice-chancellors is charging his university to hold events at his Sydney CBD property, which he bought using a loan from the university.

    Macquarie University vice-chancellor Bruce Dowton drew an $875,000 loan from the university in 2014, which remains fully drawn, with annual interest repayments of between $23,000 and $28,000.</blockquote?

    • Not only that, cop a load of Bruce Downton who is the VC but simultaneously running his own dodgy business on the side that is sucking in loot from,,,well, I wonder where….


      Hint – Bruce Downton, the bloke with the Wiki page that says:

      “…has held Visiting Professorial and External Examiner appointments at….Hong Kong University, as well as institutions in the People’s Republic of China.”

      Bruce Downton, a man of the highest integrity and probity that his own Wiki page goes on to say:

      “In June 2019, questions were raised about payments Professor Dowton received for hosting university functions at his home. The hosting payments received by Professor Dowton totaled $222,000 over four years (2014 to 2018). The house was bought with a loan drawn from the university and interest payments in the same period totaled $129,000”

      Bruce Downton, the VC scraping by on $1,010,000 in 2018.

      Bruce Downton, a man of his times with his snout firmly in the trough, telling local students to suck it up, with no concern for his own conduct as a highly conflicted and unethical opportunist.

      Perhaps he’ll start to sue like the Murdoch University VC?