The Heretic: Inside Peter Ridd’s fight for freedom of speech on climate change is an insiders’ account of Peter Ridd’s ongoing legal battle with James Cook University. It tells the story of why Peter spoke out on the bad science surrounding climate change and the Great Barrier Reef, the extraordinary lengths that James Cook University went to silence him, and how Peter fought back in court.
Written and presented by IPA Director of Policy Gideon Rozner, The Heretic series draws on extensive interviews with Peter’s colleagues, legal team, and former students, as well as, journalists, commentators, union leaders, IPA staff, and of course Peter himself.
A shocking revelation is uncovered on episode two in which Gideon Rozner interviews NTEU QLD Secretary Michael McNally, who reveals that since the Ridd case, as many as 10 universities, including the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia and Curtin University, have attempted to remove the intellectual freedom clauses from their staff EBAs.
“This is very same clause that was used to protect Peter Ridd’s freedom of speech in court. This is despite many of the same universities like the University of Melbourne and University of Western Australia giving public statements in support of free speech and the French code,” said Mr Rozner.
“They have clearly seen the Ridd case and not liked the idea of an academic speaking out and being able to defend themselves against their own university.”
On 26 and 27 May the Federal Court will hear an appeal by James Cook University against the decision of the Federal Circuit Court that Peter was unlawfully sacked by the university.
“James Cook University has secured some of the most expensive legal representation in the country to stifle the free speech of one of its own staff, despite crying poor about university funding in the wake of coronavirus,” said Mr Rozner
“This whole ugly affair could have been avoided if JCU had addressed Dr Ridd’s substantive questions about the lack of quality assurance in relation to science surrounding the Great Barrier Reef, instead of embroiling Dr Ridd in a lengthy and procedurally-dubious ‘disciplinary process’.”
“Instead of engaging in good faith scientific debate, JCU are now spending millions of taxpayer dollars to muzzle Dr Ridd. James Cook University’s actions are further proof of the free speech crisis in Australian universities,” said Mr Rozner.
Listen to The Heretic: Inside Peter Ridd’s fight for freedom of speech on climate change at www.ipa.org.au/TheHeretic