Update on Dr. Peter Ridd and the firestorm engulfing the bureautwits @jcu

Dr. Jennifer Marohasy writes in an email:

Peter Ridd’s woes began after he did an interview with Alan Jones on Sky Television last August.  To be precise the interview was on 2 August and it was in part to promote the book I had edited ‘Climate Change, The Facts 2017’.

Alan Jones was so pleased with how it all went he emailed me the next day, and also sent off a letter to the Minister Josh Frydenberg – complaining about the Bureau of Meteorology and the lack of integrity in the recording of cold temperatures.

While Alan Jones was very pleased with the interview, the management at James Cook University was upset. So, upset it censored Peter.   Peter immediately contacted the Union – his Union, the National Tertiary Education Union.   They weren’t very helpful – he had brought it all on himself.

Then John Roskam helped Peter get some proper legal advice and we – and by we, I mean you as a reader of this occasional newsletter – got behind a serious fundraising campaign to support the legal effort.   Together, we have helped Peter Ridd raise AU$260,000.

Your contribution to this campaign has made a difference!

Many of you not only contributed money, but also forwarded my emails, some of you to everyone on your email list.  This also brought in tremendous support – and money.  Thank you!

In fact, so impressive has been our campaign – joined by the networks that support Anthony Watts, Joanne Nova and Benny Peiser – that even Peter’s Union now want to support him.

My mother has always said: success brings its own success.

Late yesterday, the National Tertiary Education Union (Peter’s Union) put out a media release explaining that:

“It is ironic in the extreme that JCU management appear to have been trying to protect the reputation of the University and bodies like the Australian Institute of Marine Science.  Given the nature of the (entirely predictable) extensive media coverage, all management have done is to feed a right-wing media narrative that universities are conformist and actively suppress heterodox views on topics such as climate change.

“A university, even a relatively young one such as JCU should have the courage of its convictions and commitment to its mission so as to allow its staff to engage in robust scientific, political and academic debates, regardless of any perceived reputational damage that critical positions might generate.

“The simple fact of the matter is that defence of the core value of genuine academic freedom is not well served by the corporate, top-down, anti-collegial and managerialist structure and culture in today’s universities, and is incompatible with managerial preoccupations with “brand” and “image”.  This might explain why so many university managements (including JCU) sought to remove Academic/Intellectual Freedom clauses from our Enterprise Agreements in the current round of bargaining.

“Whither academic freedom?

“In this environment, the NTEU is obliged to reassert its commitment to academic freedom, even or especially where its expression contains statements that may be at odds with many or most members’ views.

Without the maintenance of the core value of academic freedom, our universities would cease to be worthy of the name.

“The NTEU calls for the immediate reinstatement of Professor Peter Ridd.”

We agree!

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68 thoughts on “Update on Dr. Peter Ridd and the firestorm engulfing the bureautwits @jcu

    • Unions are ‘collectives’, a socialist construct. Any criticism of socialism, deserved or otherwise, is castigated as a ‘right wing’ blah blah blah. The NTEU doesn’t give a damn about Peter Ridd. They are concerned only about how their own feckless behavior might be perceived.

      • @J Mac;

        I think you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head. They are only looking to cover their own backsides. We should keep a close eye out to see if it’s all talk and no action.

        • […] JCU should have the courage[…] to allow its staff to engage in robust scientific, political and academic debates(my bold)
          What on earth does discussing the scientific deliberations of GBR bleaching have to do with politics? I’d like to think that Ridd was nowhere close to claiming a politic message in his work on the amount of bleaching in the GBR. But his union, who, typically, have politics as their raison-d’etre these days found it useful to use the word on their press-release as it gave them a way out.

      • Yes.

        The crocodile tears from the Union, various bureaucrats and politicians only started *after* the $260k crowdfunded target was met. The entire purpose of the bleating and tears now is to avoid alarmists being cross-examined in public under oath – reinstating Peter Ridd now seems to these people a way to make the whole thing go quiet.

        But what if Peter is reinstated ? The exact same conflict, the exact same protagonists, are all still there. Nothing will have changed. Groundhog Day.

  1. I wonder what Australian employment and civil rights law is on firing for ideological causes, or if this is illegal, and JCU is just openly violating the law and expecting their allies in the government to look the other way, as is often the case in the US.

    • They wont have technically fired him for ideological reasons but ‘for misconduct’. His views are at the heart of it of course, but as an employee they would say hes bound to follow their own policies and his academic freedom only applies to his research output. Thats how it will all be framed, but I doubt JCU will have a watertight case.

    • I think there is a salary threshold above which unfair dismissal laws do not apply, you are then effectively an “at will” employee. I would have thought a professor would be above this threshold, although I do admit that it has been a long long time since I investigated this. There may be issues in the Enterprise bargain. The last time perused such a document, it was 150 pages long. You could probably find it online, but they do not make very good reading.

  2. Screw the union. They’re only in it for politics or they would have helped Dr. Ridd from the beginning and given their response so far they can’t be trusted. I must say that union is unlike any union in the US.

    • Given the nature of the (entirely predictable) extensive media coverage,

      If it was so predictable, why didn’t they predict it and support him from the beginning?

      • For the benefit of all sides. War is not a good way out.

        Ever heard of the Streisand effect? Saying nothing is always the best first move.

    • To know how this union approaches the matter one needs to see how much money and lobbying it will donate to this union member.
      Most private companies have confidentiality clauses concerning research.
      So the ‘problem’ of ‘disrepute’ cannot arise.
      Preventing open constructive criticism in the academic university sphere, publically funded in reef science, is a step towards controlling the reexamination of original data and ultimately preventing the repetition of studies,as this could trigger unwanted criticism.

      Since the GBR has been placed sqarely in the political arena,as well as the funding one,for the union to wish political comment be allowed, even if it disagrees, is a window of hope for our universities and their staff.

  3. “all management have done is to feed a right-wing media narrative that universities are conformist and actively suppress heterodox views on topics such as climate change.”

    LOL………..well?
    and the right wing media was right…and that’s exactly what happened

  4. The first paragraph should not be part of the defense of union members based on any merits of the case. It is more political positioning and classifying that seems to permeate the whole lot.

  5. All sides seem to be politically corrupted in Australia to the degree of being blind to merit, facts, professionalism, and common sense. Wake up!

    • The problem is that we have no political leaders we can respect on either side. We have an election in Australia next year. Who to vote for? We need a Trump here to move things along. Tony Abbott was the closest, but he’s out of the race.

      • So it’s up to one person to stand up to that? I knew there were a lot of sheep there but this is going too far.

  6. Given the nature of the (entirely predictable) extensive media coverage, all management have done is to feed a right-wing media narrative that universities are conformist and actively suppress heterodox views.

    If I were Peter Ridd I would keep the unions lawyers as far away as possible because they will destroy his case from the inside.

  7. Two different words with different meanings but sound similar.
    A censor can censure.

    censure has a negative context (disapproval, criticize)
    censor is neutral.

    Censure:
    n. An expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism.
    n. An official rebuke, as by a legislature of one of its members.
    v. To criticize severely; blame.

    Censor:
    n.1. A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.
    2. An official, as in the armed forces, who examines personal mail and official dispatches to remove information considered secret or a risk to security.
    3. One that condemns or censures.
    4. One of two officials in ancient Rome responsible for taking the public census and supervising public behavior and morals.
    5. Psychology The component of the unconscious that is posited by psychoanalytic theory to be responsible for preventing certain thoughts or feelings from reaching the conscious mind.
    tr.v. cen·sored, cen·sor·ing, cen·sors
    To examine and expurgate.

    A Censor can censure.

  8. Then John Roskam helped Peter get some proper legal advice …

    When a lawyer showed up, the union buckled. The union should end up having to pay Peter’s legal fees. That does happen in such cases. Duty of Fair Representation

    It will be interesting to see if the University wants a fight or also decides to buckle.

    My experience with student appeals is that, if the student brings a lawyer, the school gives in. The most egregious case I had anything to do with involved a student copying, word for word, a major class project. The school administration found a way to ignore that and give the student a credit for the course. Fighting things in court costs big money. Administration will go a long long way to avoid paying lawyer fees.

    • The problem for both parties is legal fees in unfair dismissal cases are born by the individual parties win or loose. The only time costs are awarded are in a situation of flagrant abuse or misrepresentation.

      So the university has already lost, now if he wins the case they have two choices
      1.) reinstate him
      2.) Refuse to reinstate and face an increased damages payout.

      He has already lost his job and his fees have been funded by crowd sourcing from what I know. He has nothing to loose and this will definitely go the distance to judgement if the university stays in.

      If I was the university I would be looking for a settlement sooner rather than later.

  9. When do we get the Dr. Peter Ridd screenplay? I would go see that and share with others.

  10. Next question: Did JCU act with the inside knowledge that the union would hold back initially? Let’s ask the Russians shall we.

  11. I just don’t like the puny look of the new block quote.

    Other than that, I agree — Peter Ridd’s union is buckling to the pressure of the truth, only to save face later, when more people are on board with it. Otherwise, why did it take this long for them to make the statement? — ANSWER: they were being pushed along by the momentum of the “corporate, top-down, anti-collegial and managerialist structure and culture in today’s universities”.

    • “I just don’t like the puny look of the new block quote.”

      Me neither. I hope Anthony will be able to enlarge it in his Settings.

      • Yes Roger and Robert,
        I quite agree…the text in blockquote is really hard to read…is there no way it can be made a bit bigger Anthony?

  12. Great that they are doing the right thing finally. Sad that it took so long and only occurs when they perceive the level of support in the scientific community. Also sad that their defence of academic freedom is laden with the usual allusions to the radical right as they receive it and the carefully worded statements that make it clear they don’t support those scary contrary views they are suggesting need be tolerated. Defending academic freedom while clinging to the bandwagon. Well done.

  13. “…all management have done is to feed a right-wing media narrative that universities are conformist and actively suppress heterodox views on topics such as climate change.”

    So when they do exactly that – and this isn’t the first time – how come it’s a “narrative” and not what they do?

    I’m utterly confused. Are the things we do not the things we do now? Or is that only if we are “right wing”, with the Left basically able to do what it likes provided it says the right things?

    • Basically the union is saying that the university made itself look bad, not that it is actually bad.

  14. Andrew Bolt: LACK OF DEBATE KILLS GLOBAL WARMING SCIENCE

    THE sacking of an academic for questioning aspects of climate science will shock those who value freedom of thought, writes Andrew Bolt.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/ministers-defend-sacked-sceptic/news-story/299925f8823c64126fadfdd087827195

    MINISTERS DEFEND SACKED SCEPTIC
    Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun
    May 23, 2018 5:51pm

    Finally, Turnbull Government ministers are waking up to a frightening thought: are our universities muzzling global warming sceptics? Three ministers have now expressed concern about the latest apparent example: the sacking of marine scientist Professor Peter Ridd.

    And so they should.

    Ridd was fired by James Cook University last week after questioning alarmist claims that man-made global warming is destroying the Great Barrier Reef.

    (Full article is paywalled)

    • The Bolt Report also featured the Peter Ridd story very quickly. Andrew Bolt was actually away and Ben Fordham was presenting, but it was the first story one night. They also referred to the fundraiser, which I imagine helped quite a bit. The Bolt Report is on Sky News (I am not a subscriber, but saw it while I was on the treadmill at my gym).

  15. Great to see such support from the NTEU. “In this environment, the NTEU is obliged to reassert its commitment to academic freedom, even or especially where its expression contains statements that may be at odds with many or most members’ views.”
    So we can now expect the NTEU to reverse its opposition to the benefaction from the Ramsay estate to establish a School of Western Civilisation at the ANU?

  16. Out of court settlement by JCU and Peter will reject their offering and go to court where justice will be served

  17. Peter Ridd, an individual scientist vs a bunch of gormless, cowardly bureaucrats hiding behind their veil of anonymity.

  18. they had to stick in the old “right-wing” jab even when defending freedom of speech didn’t they 🙁 sad …

  19. For the non Aussies it has to be remembered that many unions control sizeable superannuation funds that are heavily invested in renewable energy projects, hence their great support for the continuation of subsidies in these areas.

    While wanting to appear to be supportive of Dr Ridd, they also do not want any reduction in the alarmist narrative as that could result in a reduction of subsidies.

  20. It seems clear that JCU ‘s attitude is their way or the highway .Lets hope that sanity prevails and academic freedom of speech wins out .As the old guy said we’ill put it up em .

  21. The union just waited if JCU would get Ridd of him.

    Failing, these useless advocate of its members is now trying to climb back the mountain with suddenly discovered 10mply commandments.

  22. My union has never done a damn thing to support and defend special educators against the wholesale onslaught from people not satisfied with this, that, or the other thing. One district says this is good, while the next district says no, this is bad. This is why I don’t belong to our local teachers union. They are good folk for sure, but I don’t trust teacher unions any farther than I can throw them, regardless of the current union in my district and its decent officials.

  23. There is only one way forward, for Peter Ridd:
    Forget the lawyers; Forget the Media; Forget the hype on all sides;
    KEEP TO THE FACTS !
    Dr Peter Ridd has obviously said something about the Great Barrier Reef, but something that is according to his measured facts. Keep to these facts and show everyone where they are wrong to ban him from further research at the James Cook University (JCU). He must hammer this in, – that he has done nothing wrong. He has kept to the scientific facts !

  24. I am suspicious of the union’s motives. At first they left Peter adrift but then when they realised how much support he had and the money to fight his case they decide the university should rehire him. Many of you would not be aware that the JCU had recently received $450 million to fund research into the reef so it might be “saved”. The biggest threat is not nature but a scientist who proves there is nothing wrong and that the money might be better spent elsewhere. The union do not want a high profile court case which would expose the dodgy predetermined science that shows the reef is in terrible and immediate danger because the taxpaying public might question what other research is also less than the best. The taxpayer might think that universities are responsible for the current high electricity bills caused primarily by renewable energy subsidies, mandates and foolish fixes such as big batteries and inefficient water storage . We know they would be correct in that assumption and added to the current stories of universities more interested in teaching students what to think rather than how to think those institutions of Marxist ideology might lose funding and employ less academics.

    Peter should pursue his case. He has support and more will be available if he needs it. Should he be reinstated I have no doubt his “collegiate” colleagues would ostracise him and force him to resign anyhow. Remember what this same mob did to Bob Carter. JCU has to be put on notice along with every other climate university that there are other answers that do not contain the carbon atom.

    • As one door closes, another may open.
      There is so much seed money now on the table for reef research in Australia, the logical thing is set up the equivalent of an open university in Marine Science and start studying all the reefs around Australia and the Timor Gap.
      The purpose would be pure research, not necessarily model building.
      Such an organisation would be tasked to attract back to Australia those who have left our shores to work in science overseas.
      As such it would seed our institutions with those of proven or potential calibre, expats as well as visiting academics.
      Prof Ridd would be a good pick for Chief Scientist.

  25. Hopefully Peter Ridd will be both reinstated and the University publicly support debate on the issue, or lose federal funding. I’d rather they do it voluntarily but……

  26. Good…. But I can’t help but reflect on how useless this “Union” was in helping Bob Carter when he was censored and removed…

  27. It is about time the NTEU took up Peter’s case and recognised the effect of the left wing influence on all of our once great universities. The ignorant stand of ANU, bending to the will of this same dilittante, the Union, and banning the acceptance of a study centre for Western Culture.

    Given the nature of present university culture, it is to be hoped that this widely publicised case, will start an evolution which will return the University and what was once the strictly non-political ‘Staff Association”, back to an unpolitical approach to the important tertiary sector.

  28. Perhaps it’s because I don’t tread the halls of the academy that I’ve begun to suspect that the chief job of the administrator of one of these academic bordellos is to provide someone who can design a study to support whatever action the owners of the government at the moment think will enrich them.

    In the last 50 years I’ve probably missed the discoveries that rival those of Newton, Rutherford, Dalton, Charles, Einstein, Galilei, Faraday and Heisenburg to name but a few.

    No union of the physics of the large with the physics of the small, no cure for heart disease, cancer and diabetes, no fixes for war, poverty and crime. This action from the Australian outfit with pretensions of achievement are just about what the world should expect.

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