Dr. Peter Ridd sens this update via email:
The court just announced that we have been awarded around $1.2 million (provisional on submissions).
This case was always about academic freedom.
It was a fight that should never have started in the first place.
I have worked for 35 years on the Great Barrier Reef, and my genuinely held belief is that there are systemic quality assurance problems at GBR science institutions. I had a right, a duty, to say this. JCU have still not accepted this fundamental right despite the importance of the debate to the North Queensland region.
The case shows the importance of strong clauses in Enterprise Agreements that were negotiated by the union, and relied upon in court. It also shows the importance of the federal government’s initiatives, such as the French Review, to require universities to behave like universities. If JCU appeals it casts doubt that academic freedom is part of their DNA as they often insist.
An appeal will continue the huge and pointless legal costs. JCU admit to spending well over $600K, although we suspect their true costs are far higher. The legal costs to my wife and I is around $200K. This is on top of the $260K that was donated to us in the crowd funding campaign. Our intention is to re-donate the $260K to assist with science quality and academic freedom initiatives but this will have to wait until any appeal is finished. I should add that under the Fair Work Act each side usually pays their own legal fees.
As ever I am very grateful to those who supported this cause. JCU has three weeks to appeal. If they appeal, regrettably I will likely have to call upon this support again. Until any prospective appeal is finalised, we will not be in a position to access the court payout. My lawyers say it is a landmark case so it is imperative that we continue the fight if necessary.
I’d like to thank my excellent legal team Stuart Wood AM QC, Ben Jellis, Ben Kidston, Mitchell Downes and Amelia Hasson. Also, without the support of the IPA especially Jennifer Marohasy, John Roskam, Gideon Roezner and Matthew Lesh, this would not have been possible
Lastly and most importantly I’d like to thank my wife Cheryl. She suffered most but was always rock-solid in support.
The link to the Judge’s reason is below.