Monday, 22 March 2021
Foreign Interference in Universities
It is disappointing that the member for Kennedy, who is down to speak on this motion, has decided that he has better things to do than stand up for the freedom of Australians and Australian students at universities. The member for Lindsay can't be here, because she is busy at the moment working with her community to protect life and property. We on this side, and I have noted a number of speakers on the other side of this chamber, take this issue incredibly seriously. As the member for Dawson has just pointed out, these are regimes that are not friendly to the rule of law, are not friendly to procedural fairness, are not friendly to fairness and freedom of the individual. This government has stood, in lock step, against the narcissistic self-interest of too many university administrators who would prefer cash to credibility, who would prefer to persecute those people standing up for the freedom and rights of individuals—of Australians and of foreign students—and to take the cash of, as the member for Dawson describes them, a homicidal totalitarian regime.
My father came to this country from an oppressive left-wing regime after the Second World War. He came to this country because it stood as a beacon of hope and freedom for anyone who was willing to come here and have a go. Too many of our institutions have given themselves over to the interests of those groups who would seek to undermine the very liberties that this nation was built on. Too many of our so-called betters who speak down to us on an ever-increasing range of subjects are not willing to stand up to regimes that, frankly, in past generations would have been opposed because they seek to treat their citizens as vassals.
We come to this chamber because we understand the importance of the rule of law. We understand the importance of the values on which this nation was founded: freedom and fairness. We understand that, unless you have freedom and fairness in a nation, you cannot have people like the member for Lindsay, who is currently working with her community to save her community. We know that, when you get rid of these things and when you silence people in this very chamber, in this very building, through sneer and smear and fear, what you create is a culture of cancellation, because you cannot deal with the arguments; you can only deal with cancelling them. If they do not like what someone is saying, too many on the left today deal with it by cancelling those people who are saying it. The member for Dawson has pointed out that, on our campuses, in this nation, in our time, we have had people who have been protesting in favour of freedom of speech and that university administrators have sought to cancel them—to shut them down; to, simply put, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to achieve what they could not achieve through argument, and that is to cancel them and ensure that they cannot be heard.
This is a fundamental freedom that we are talking about. Those opposite talk about cybersecurity. I don't wish to demean that as an incredibly critical issue, but are they serious? Are they serious, when those people who administer our universities, which are meant to be centres of higher thinking and higher learning, are busy undermining the very freedoms on which this nation was built? We cannot replace our values with cybersecurity measures. Firstly, we have to stand up for our very values. And unless this parliament is not unwilling to fundamentally stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves then we are lost—we are lost in this nation.
The motion that the member for Lindsay has put to this parliament is absolutely critical and core to what it means to be Australian. It is exactly what this nation was formed for. It is exactly the beacon of light that so many refugees, so many migrants—including my father—came to, to observe and live through. (Time expired)