KENNEDY MHR, Bob Katter said a review into the Australian education sector’s commitment to free speech and academic freedom, announced by the Federal Education Minister today, doesn’t go far enough.
Mr Katter said he will continue to pursue a full-blown parliamentary inquiry into foreign influence at Australian universities, which will be seconded by fellow maverick MP, Dawson’s George Christensen.
“In the twelve months following the outrageous attack on UQ student, Drew Pavlou, by pro-Chinese Communist Party thugs, nothing had happened,” he said.
“Since George Christensen and I joined in the battle, and the two 60 Minutes episodes went to air, we have had a prosecution launched against the thugs that physically attacked students who were standing up for democracy in Hong Kong.
“And now, the Federal Government has finally acted with an inquiry into free speech in the universities. I think the Government may be trying to hose us down a bit, by backing down from a full-blown parliamentary inquiry.”
Dan Tehan said former Deakin University vice-chancellor Sally Walker will be tasked with investigating whether universities are in alignment with the free speech code devised by former High Court chief justice Robert French.
Mr Katter said his inquiry was still necessary as the issue goes further than free speech, as foreign Communist dictatorships are controlling universities and their leadership – exemplified in the suspension of UQ’s Drew Pavlou.
“I can understand the Prime Minister’s hesitation to go for the whole hog, as 30 per cent of our exports go to China,” he said.
“But maybe the PM should let China think about what life will be like without the iron ore and coal coming from Australia.
“The other issue that needs to be desperately sorted out is our fuel reserves. We need petrol and diesel security. Otherwise our armed forces are a bloody joke. Without fuel for vehicles, are we going to expect our soldiers to carry artillery pieces on their shoulders?”
Mr Katter said he had talked to MPs from both sides of the political divide who were in strong support of the Inquiry into foreign interference at Australian universities, and he believed he had the numbers to get it through parliament.