JCU’s actions concerning in Ridd saga

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto says academic freedom should be a cornerstone of any university.

JAMES Cook University’s success in winning an appeal against Professor Peter Ridd’s wrongful dismissal case demonstrates how out of touch the university is with free thought, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.

Mr Dametto was alarmed at JCU’s actions, which follow the Federal Circuit Court previously awarding Dr Ridd $1.2 million in compensation after finding the university had breached workplace laws in dismissing him.

That verdict was overturned yesterday when the full bench of the Federal Court allowed the university’s appeal and ordered the previous judgement be set aside.

“While Dr Ridd’s case centered around whether or not he was unlawfully dismissed by JCU, the alleged reasons for that dismissal should concern anyone who values a range of views in the field of science,” Mr Dametto said.

“As Dr Ridd has said, he believes he was fired for merely arguing for better quality assurance on the science surrounding the Great Barrier Reef.”

Mr Dametto said whether or not one agreed with Dr Ridd’s view, “academic freedom should be a cornerstone of any university”.

“Ideas, views and discussion should never be held captive to any one bias and should always be grounded in the facts available at the time,” he said.

“In my view, Professor Ridd has demonstrated significant flaws in the field of Reef science which should be checked and replicated for quality assurance. But this matter is bigger than any one example. It goes to the heart of our democracy and threatens the freedom we have to inquire about the world around us.

“The day we lose that ability will be a dark day for Australia.”

Nick Dametto MP