Sunday, December 01, 2019

Education Minister will tell universities to stop adjudicating rape

Bettina Arndt

Red letter day! Our Education Minister Dan Tehan will today tell TEQSA, the university regulator, that universities need to stop adjudicating rape on campuses.

He’s set to speak at  the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency annual conference in Melbourne where he will announce that the criminal justice system, not a university discipline process, is the right place to deal with ­alleged crimes that take place on campus or in the student commun­ity.

“Universities have a duty of care to their students and that ­includes ensuring processes around the enforcement of any codes of conduct are legal, fair and transparent," he will tell the conference.

“If a student alleges they are the victim of a crime then our criminal justice system is the ­appropriate authority to deal with it," Mr Tehan says.

Tim Dodd, the Higher Education editor for The Australian who has been given access to Tehan’s planned TEQSA speech, writes today that Tehan’s speech follows a decision by a Queensland Supreme Court judge last week that barred the University of Queensland from holding a discip­linary hearing into allegations that a final-year male ­medical student sexually ­assault­ed a female student last year.

Dodd summarised that ruling as follows: “Justice Ann Lyons ruled last week that the university was ­restrained from going ahead with the hearing on the basis that the allegations against the ­student “were in fact allegations of crim­inal offences of a sexual nature". “This is not just an action by the university about breaches of its rules, policies and procedures," Justice Lyons said. “It would indeed­ be a startling result if a committee comprised of academics and students who are not required to have any legal training could decide allegations of a most serious kind without any of the protections of the criminal law."

Dan Tehan will announce that education providers “need to take great care when considering disciplinary action in relation to allegations of criminal conduct, to ensure that the protections afforded to indiv­iduals responding to those allegations are not infringed. These are complex matters and there is substantia­l legislation, case law and legal precedent available to anyone accused of a crime."

Isn’t this wonderful? Finally we have an education minister willing to take on the small but noisy group of activists who managed to bully the entire higher education sector into pursuing this path, which has had such disastrous consequences for colleges in America, with over 200 successful legal cases of young men suing over the universities' failure to protect their legal rights, and thousands of accused young men being thrown out of colleges after biased, “believe-the victim" judgements by college tribunals.

Let's see if university administrators will now come to their senses. Not much sign  of that from USyd’s Vice Chancellor Michael Spence. His letter on the matter below. How does this man, who received a salary package of 1.53 million last year, get away with being so blinkered and inept?  Why are the University's academic lawyers silent about this dangerous nonsense?

We need to put pressure on universities to get real and realise feminist activists need to relinquish control of the sector and allow universities to get on with providing education rather than controlling people’s private lives. Please talk to any academics and administrators you know, or write letters to your local university. The activists are bound to be fighting fiercely against this advice from Tehan. Universities need to know the silent majority demands they get their act together. And Tehan needs your support. 

That’s  it for now. I’m off on two weeks’ holiday so I would be grateful if you saved up any correspondence until I return mid-December. I’ll check emails occasionally but will only deal with urgent matters.

Email from Bettina Arndt:

Police take the lead in investigating campus allegations

Weaselly letter from Michael Spence, vice-chancellor, University of Sydney, NSW. He apologises for nothing and gives no undertakings

Attending university is not a right, it’s a privilege that can be forfeited (“It’s time we culled kangaroo courts", 27/11). Some behaviour appropriately deprives people of this privilege.

Universities do not try to determine criminal culpability in sexual assault cases.

The University of Sydney reports information about serious indictable offences to the NSW Police, and co-ordinates with them before commencing our own processes or investigations. A police investigation always takes precedence.

Our investigations seek to determine breaches of our own codes of conduct or policies, and we apply the “balance of probabilities" test, which is the standard of proof to be satisfied in civil proceedings.

We always take into account the nature and seriousness of the allegations when deciding whether the standard of proof is met. Always, our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and broader community, and we take great care to ensure a fair process for all involved.


Preschool cancels Christmas pageant because 'ONE non-Christian parent complained it wasn't culturally sensitive'

A preschool has cancelled its yearly Christmas pageant over 'cultural sensitivities' after one parent complained, a radio station has confirmed.

The preschool in Wheelers Hill, southeast Melbourne, called off the Christmas pageant after a parent 'of a different faith' complained, according to the father of a person who works there.

The man, known only as Felix, revealed the extraordinary cancellation to Radio 3AW host Neil Mitchell on Friday, who confirmed it with the unnamed centre after obtaining the contact details off-air.

'They normally have their annual Christmas pageant at the end of the year,' Felix told Radio 3AW. 'Everything was planned and has been called off now just because one parent of a different faith has objected to it, and that is disappointing.'

Felix said about 30 children attend the preschool.

Later in the same show another caller told Radio 3AW off air that Yarra Trams, which runs Melbourne's tram network, had been rebranded the 'Thankyou party'.

Yarra Trams re-named its Christmas staff party last year in part to counteract outrage over a scantily-clad fat-o-gram scandal from 2017 which resulted in the sacking of three workers, media reported at the time.

A Yarra Trams spokesperson said they changed the name to a 'Thank You Event' for inclusiveness.

'We changed the name to a Thank You Event to acknowledge the valuable contribution our employees have made throughout the year and to ensure that our employees from many different cultural backgrounds feel included in our end-of-year event,' the spokesperson said via email.

Australian Catholic University research fellow Kevin Donnelly, a critic of political correctness, said the surge in multicultural authoritarianism was not about politeness but came from the cultural left - who were trying to force people to think along party lines by controlling their language.

'If you want to change society you take the long march,' he told Mitchell on 3AW. 'You  get into schools, the universities, the media, trade unions and impose your ideology on other people.'

Dr Donnelly said most Australians thought political correctness had gone too far with more than two thirds of respondents surveyed by the Australia Talks National Survey, or 68 percent, saying they thought people were too easily offended, the ABC reported. 'You have to be careful with what you say,' he told 3AW.

'All the universities have got diversity tool kits, trigger warnings, safe spaces - you really can't say boo to a goose without somebody getting upset.'


Priests across the country will be forced to report child sex abuse admitted at confession or could face charges themselves under strict new laws

What stupidity.  It will achieve nothing.  All it will do is victimize a few faithful priests.  And how will they prove what is said in the confessional booth?

Australia's chief legal officers have agreed to standardise laws making it mandatory for priests to report child abuse revealed to them during confession.

Federal and state attorneys-general meeting in Adelaide on Friday agreed to three principles for the laws, which were recommended following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Those principles say that 'confessional privilege' can't be relied upon to avoid a child protection or criminal obligation to report beliefs, suspicions or knowledge of child abuse.

They also dictate that clergy would not be able to use that defence to avoid giving evidence against a third party in criminal or civil proceedings.

Work on such laws is already well under way in most states and territories, but legal expert Luke Beck said the agreement will implement a nationwide standard.

'Some states are already in compliance with this and they don't have to do anything else,' said Mr Beck, an associate professor at Monash University. 'Now, all have signed up and said 'yes, we're going to do it'.'

In June 2018, the ACT was the first state to introduce laws which forced priests to admit any sexual abuse confessions.

The Victorian Labor government promised to push the law through in November last year.

Up until now, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia have protected priests.   

Teachers, police and medical practitioners are already legally required to report child physical and sexual abuse allegations.

The Catholic Church has insisted priests would be obliged to defy the laws, with Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli previously stating he was prepared to go to jail rather than break the confessional seal.

'For Catholics, confession is a religious encounter of a deeply personal nature. It deserves confidentiality,' he said in August.


Australia to fight Europe on climate demands in free-trade deal

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has described France's push to force Australia to adopt climate change targets in a planned trade deal with European Union as "unprecedented", declaring he will only accept terms that are in the best interests of the nation.

Senator Birmingham wants to clinch a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the EU by the end of next year, followed by Britain in early 2021, after Parliament this week ticked off on deals with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru.

In a week when Australia-China relations soured over allegations of a plot to install a Chinese agent in federal Parliament, Senator Birmingham stressed the benefits of diversifying Australia's trading interests around the world through the new FTAs, but said China would remain a major trading partner with Australia for years to come.

He also declared he wouldn't "capitulate" to Europe's claim for exclusive use of key food names including feta, Parmesan and Gorgonzola cheeses.

Climate change targets are shaping to be a major sticking point in trade negotiations with Europe - already Australia's second-biggest trading partner - after France publicly tied Australia's domestic action on climate change to the proposed FTA.

Ahead of a speech in Sydney on Thursday night to the European Australian Business Council, Senator Birmingham told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age he believed trade agreements were "overwhelmingly commercial undertakings between countries" and they should "focus on commercial realities".

He said Australia "had a good environmental story to tell" and was happy to discuss any proposed terms with the EU referencing the Paris climate agreement, but would push back on provisions that included sanctions for not meeting climate targets.

"We're completely committed to meeting our [Paris climate] targets and we've always met and exceeded our targets, but I think it would be unprecedented to see those type of provisions proposed in an agreement," Senator Birmingham said.

The Trade Minister said he didn't want to prejudge the negotiations, but Australia would put up a "strong defence" to some of the 172 foods and 236 spirits the EU wants protected under the geographical indication (GI) system.

"The areas of greater industry concern are those that have been publicly speculated on such as feta, Parmesan and Gorgonzola," he said. "The EU shouldn't expect that Australia is about to agree to every term that they've requested."

Australia is one of the first countries UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss has visited, to lay the groundwork for post Brexit trade deals.

He said there were significant agricultural opportunities in the EU, including increasing the 20,000-tonne quota for sheep meat, as well as creating more opportunities to export professional services as well as financial and regulatory technologies.

FTAs have gone from covering about 26 per cent of Australia's two-way trade five years ago to about 70 per cent today and this would increase to about 80 per cent under deals with the EU and Britain.

At a time when the United States was blocking appointments of appellate judges to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) amid a trade war with China, Senator Birmingham said it was up to middle powers like Australia to stand up for the "rules-based order" and drive reform of the WTO.

He said a trade working group had already been established to begin talking with Britain, and talks would ramp up assuming Brexit took place on January 31, 2020.

With China making up almost 40 per cent of Australia's export market, Senator Birmingham said Australia's trade would be more evenly spread "in an ideal world".

In its relationship with China, Senator Birmingham said it was important for Australia to hold true to its values, raise legitimate concerns and protect its interests as a democracy. But he said Australia must continue to pursue commercial opportunities with China because that was what gave the government avenues to address any problems with Beijing.

He said the new trade deals with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru provided "big new opportunities", but it was up to Australian businesses to "walk through that door instead of China, or as well as China".


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here<

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