Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

The systematic silencing of conservative voices in Australian universities

By Augusto Zimmermann - posted Tuesday, 14 May 2019

By deciding to pull out of a program favourable to Western Civilisation, ANU administrators demonstrated they are not committed to support academic projects that appreciate values that make Australia so unique and special, including academic freedom. The situation becomes more bizarre when the ANU already has a centre to promote Islamic and Arab cultures and also a China Institute.

The problem is not restricted to the ANU. When the University of Sydney commissioned a senior academic to prepare a draft of a potential course in Western Civilisation to be offered in partnership with the Ramsay Centre, such a proposal sparked a 'backlash' and Sydney academics are reported to have 'reacted furiously to the news'. More than 100 such academics signed an open letter to Sydney University vice chancellor Michael Spence that they are opposed to the university entering into any academic arrangement with the Ramsay Centre. Negotiations stalled.

No consensus at UWA


A further examples come from April 2015, when UWA announced it had secured $4 million in Federal Government funding to establish an 'Australian Consensus Centre' to undertake 'detailed economic cost-benefit analysis into many of Australia's, and the world's biggest challenges'. The university initially embraced the opportunity, with Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson stating:

The Centre is unique in that it's to deliver robust, evidence-based knowledge and advice to the Australian Government on potential policy reforms and other interventions that will deliver the smartest, most cost-effective solutions in areas ranging from poverty, social justice and food sustainability.

The Danish environmentalist, Bjørn Lomborg, was to head the Centre. Lomborg endorses 'the science of human-induced climate change' but is apparently a 'controversial figure' because he has also argued that the risks of climate change have been overstated, and it is more important to tackle problems such as malaria, extreme poverty, and pollution. Accordingly, UWA Academic Staff Association vice president Professor Stuart Bunt said the project could not be tolerated because 'Lomborg would be using the name of the university, to put what are largely political opinions, rather than evidence-based statements, using the university's name.'

To his credit the Vice-Chancellor reminded us that Dr Lomborg is a 'leading environmental scientist' perfectly qualified for the academic position:

I believe that a man who has worked with many Nobel Laureate economists, has been named one of Time magazine's most influential people, and has published with Cambridge University Press, meets the criteria of being made an Adjunct Professor-an honorary position that carries no salary,

However, he was also the bearer of bad news:


I have formed the view that the events of the past weeks places the Centre in an untenable position as it lacks the support needed across the University and the broader academic community to meet its contractual obligations … The work of the Australia Consensus Centre is important to Australia's future by engaging in important discuss and economic analysis about how we ensure future generations are better off than those that came before them. Unfortunately, that work cannot happen here.

Lecture cancelled

There is growing evidence of censorship on campuses, where speakers' engagements are often cancelled and violently protested because certain groups disagree with their ideas. On 17 August, for example, a lecture by the US academic paediatrician, Dr Quentin Van Meter, was cancelled by UWA after students from the Student Guild launched a petition calling on the event's cancellation.

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. Page 2
  4. 3
  5. All

This article was first publshed ini the IPA Review, which is distributed to members of the IPA.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

4 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Augusto Zimmermann, LLB, LLM, PhD is a Lecturer in Law at Murdoch University, Western Australia.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Augusto Zimmermann

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Augusto Zimmermann
Article Tools
Comment 4 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy