Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Philosophy student, 20, claims he faces expulsion from Australian university for 'exposing its ties to the Chinese Communist Party'

A fourth-year philosophy student at the University of Queensland is facing the threat of expulsion this week after speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party.

Drew Pavlou is an elected member of the university's senate and is now facing 11 accusations of 'prejudicing the reputation' of the institution.

The 20-year-old led a series of campus demonstrations last year, in support of Hong-Kong's pro-democracy movement.

He also posted messages to social media criticising China's authoritarian regime and denounced the university's close financial ties with the Communist Party.

However the University of Queensland claim the breaches are not for criticising China but for positioning the statement's as if they were on behalf of the university.

Mr Pavlou believes he is being unfairly targeted.

'I am being threatened with this unprecedented move because of UQ's particularly close relationship with the Chinese party-state; UQ enjoys perhaps the closest relationship of any university with the Chinese government in the Anglosphere,' he wrote in an article for Foreign Policy.

'In addition to funding and controlling a Confucius Institute on campus, the Chinese government funds at least four accredited UQ courses that present a party-approved version of Chinese history to students, glossing over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and mainland China.

'In addition to these state-backed courses, the Chinese consul general in Brisbane, Xu Jie, serves as an honorary professor at the university.'

Mr Pavlou recently took Mr Xu to court after being attacked at a rally by Chinese nationalists.

'In July 2019, I led a peaceful campus sit-in calling for UQ to completely cut ties with the Chinese state until Tibetans were freed, Uighur detention camps were closed, and Hong Kongers were afforded greater democracy,' he said.

'Masked pro-CCP heavies violently attacked our rally, assaulting me and choke-slamming other pro-Hong Kong students to the ground.'

Following the ugly incident, Mr Pavlou was named in a Chinese state media article by Mr Xu and accused of being 'anti-China'.

As a result, Mr Pavlou claims he then received death threats, unsettling phone calls and letters.

The University of Queensland said in a statement, it rejects the 'unsubstantiated' claims and is not attempting to prevent students from expressing their personal political views or trying to limit their right to freedom of speech.

'The University is an active defender of freedom of speech - it has adopted the principles of the French Model Code into its policy framework,' the statement said.

'Everyday life at UQ demonstrates our ongoing commitment to its protection and promotion.'

The university says any decision at the disciplinary hearing will be made on the basis of fact and evidence and that the process provides a fair and confidential course of action.

The University of Queensland has approximately 10,000 Chinese students bringing in about $150 million to the university in student fees each year.


Qld premier nervous about reopening border

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has suggested Queensland's border with NSW may not be reopened for months.

"I would say that things would look more positive towards September," she told the ABC on Monday, when asked if a change by the end of May was likely.

The premier has promised to review the border closure at the end of each month.

On Sunday she warned it would be irresponsible to allow border crossings when there's still active community transmission of coronavirus in NSW and Victoria.

Asked about Queenslanders being allowed to visit the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia under a "travel bubble" arrangement, she said:

"I could see that happening before NSW and Victoria. But that's a matter for the premiers there as well."

Queensland's chief medical officer and the deputy premier will travel to Rockhampton on Monday as an aged care facility remains in coronavirus lockdown.

The premier has expressed great frustration with a nurse who kept working at the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre after developing symptoms, and while waiting for coronavirus test results.

"Everyone has a personal responsibility here to make sure that if they are sick, they are not turning up to work," she said on Monday.

A total of 235 staff and residents at the centre have been tested and cleared, with officials waiting on another 37 results.

But Deputy Premier and Heath Minister Stephen Miles says it will be another 12 days before everyone is in the clear.


Coronavirus lockdown leaves skilled workers stuck in or out of Australia during pandemic

Hundreds of skilled migrants who have been living in Australia for years have been separated from their jobs, homes and even family members by the Australian Government's international travel bans.

Temporary visa holders who happened to be on overseas trips when the border closures came into force in March have been blocked from returning to their lives in Australia.

One Perth family has tried several times to secure a special travel exemption for their 16-year-old son, who they have been separated from for months.

The Fletcher family moved to Australia from the United Kingdom on sponsored work visas but their eldest son Taylor, 16, stayed behind to finish school exams.

Now, the Government will not let him join his parents as planned.

Despite four requests for leave to travel on compassionate grounds being lodged, the Federal Government has refused their son permission to fly to Australia to be with them.

"It's just hard because obviously I miss them, and I want to see them again, I want to see them as soon as I can," Taylor said.

Taylor's mother, Chloe Fletcher, said she had also written to Foreign Minister Marise Payne and WA Premier Mark McGowan, but still had no idea when she would see her son again.

"For any mother to be away from her child for that long — the pain's unbearable," Ms Fletcher said.

The lack of clear criteria for what counts as "compassionate" or "compelling" circumstances has frustrated torn families.

"I don't understand what the actual boundaries are, what makes a compassionate case," Ms Fletcher said. "There are no actual rules or regulations, so we don't know what category we fit into."

Under Australia's coronavirus restrictions on international travel, only citizens and permanent residents are allowed to return from overseas.

That meant many skilled work visa holders outside the country were instantly separated from long-term jobs, homes, partners and pets in Australia.

Holly Haskell rushed to England after her mother died in a car crash in March. She went through the trauma of identifying her mother's body, dealing with police investigations and organising the funeral.

As if that was not hard enough, the Australian Government's travel ban came in just days after the funeral, meaning she cannot get back to her home, job and friends in Melbourne.

She is still working for her Australian employer, doing her shifts in the middle of the night so she can operate in sync with Australian time zones.

Ms Haskell applied for and failed the Government's compassion test for return travel to Australia.

"When I got the declined result, it broke me," she said.  "Apart from work I didn't leave my bed for days. "It felt like in one night not only had my mum been taken from me but my whole life has now been taken from me."

Some temporary visa holders have been paying rent in two countries so they can hold on to their Australian residences, while others have been forced to up-end their homes from afar.

Travel industry worker Alexandra Skiba has lived in Sydney for two years but was visiting family in California when she learned she would not be allowed back in. "My friends are going into my apartment to pack it up for me," Ms Skiba said.

"My boyfriend is in Sydney and I don't know when I'll see him again. "It's heartbreaking to have a skilled visa and not even be considered as someone worthy of bringing back home. It's cruel."

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said exemptions could be made in special circumstances, but the rules were clear. "We've closed our borders to everybody other than Australians who are returning and permanent residents who are returning," Mr Tudge said.

"That, to be honest, has been one of the most important things — if not the most important thing — that we've done in terms of getting control of this pandemic."


Greenies often assure us that we will run out of food. David Littleproud claims Australia has the best food security in the world. Is he correct?

Rice, pasta and some canned foods sold out in the weeks after state and federal governments imposed restrictions and urged Australians to stay at home, with a sudden rush to stock up severely straining supply chains.

State and federal government ministers have said repeatedly that buying huge volumes of food and groceries is unnecessary, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelling panic buying "ridiculous" and "not sensible".

The National Farmers' Federation also sought to quell concerns about food shortages, telling consumers not to "panic" as there was "plenty of food to go around".

The Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, went so far as to declare that Australia "[has] the most secure food security in the world".

"We're a nation of 25 million people," Mr Littleproud told ABC Radio National's Afternoon Briefing program on May 11. "We produce enough food for 75 million."

Is that correct? Does Australia have "the most secure food security in the world"? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict: Mr Littleproud's claim is in the ballpark.

According to many studies and experts, Australia enjoys a very high level of food security. The nation produces an abundance of food, exports far more than it needs, and has ample alternative sources of certain foods should they become scarce.

While Australia is not the top-ranked or "most" food-secure nation in the world, according to some comparisons, it nevertheless has plenty of flexibility in terms of food sources and could switch production priorities to alleviate shortfalls. One international comparison places Australia 12th among 113 nations in terms of food security.

Richard Heath, of the Australian Farm Institute, typified the response of the experts.

"By the most basic definition — which is, 'Are we at risk of starving because we cannot feed ourselves?' — we are so far from that, it's ridiculous," he said.

"When you consider the availability of irrigated-water area, the amount of arable land … we are a very secure nation in terms of food."


 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

No comments: