Wednesday, 15 August 2018
That the Senate:
(a) notes the increasing number of Confucius classes or institutes being established within the Australian education system, accompanied by generous foreign government grants;
(b) also notes an SBS report that:
(i) Australia has the third largest number of such institutes after the United States of America and the United Kingdom, and
(ii) there were 525 institutes and 1 113 classrooms across 146 countries worldwide by the end of 2017;
(c) further notes concerns that have been expressed, including in the documentary 'In the name of Confucius' aired around Australia during the winter break, regarding academic freedom and freedom of conscience at or around these institutes;
(d) likewise notes comments attributed to Mr Ross Babbage, a former head of strategic analysis in the Office of National Assessments, and now a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) in Washington, stating that Australian universities are "naive" about what goes on in the institutes, and that since early 2018 the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation has been warning about the institutes' activities on United States' campuses;
(e) observes that the New South Wales government is reviewing its engagement with the institute; and
(f) calls upon the Minister for Education and Training to work with his state and territory counterparts to ensure full reviews of their engagement with these institutes and classrooms.
Australia pursues its own national interest but, in doing so, is strongly committed to collaboration and partnership. We will continue to act to advance Australia's prosperity, ensure the independence of our decision-making and academic freedom at our universities and secure the safety and freedom of our people. Issues relating to state education jurisdictions and autonomous jurisdictions are properly matters for them.