NTEU welcomes federal government support for academic freedom

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) today welcomed news that the Federal Government is considering supporting protections around academic freedom in the NTEU negotiated Collective Agreement with James Cook University, through funding legal support to Dr Peter Ridd.

Referring to reports by The Australian that Attorney General Christian Porter has “left the door open” for the Commonwealth to play a role in supporting academic Peter Ridd in his legal fight against James Cook University, Gabe Gooding, NTEU National Assistant Secretary, observed that the provisions that protected Dr Ridd come from his Union negotiated Collective Agreement.

NTEU welcomes the possibility of Federal Government intervention in support of the rights provided in the collective agreement. The government consideration of intervention in this case in support of academic freedom, is particularly timely given that they are considering the report of the French Review, which proposed a legislated definition of academic freedom.

Ms Gooding said “Enforceable rights to academic and intellectual freedom only exist because of the collective agreements negotiated by the NTEU. It was the NTEU negotiated agreement that protected Dr Ridd and it is the Court’s decision to uphold those provisions against which JCU is appealing.”

“While the Union has achieved provisions protecting academic and intellectual freedom in University collective agreements, we regret to say that university managements have at times attempted to restrict or even undermine the academic and intellectual freedom rights of university staff.”

NTEU has called on Universities Australia to come together with NTEU as the representative of university staff and negotiate a common agreed statement that would define and protect these important rights.

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