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John Passant

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December 2012



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



La Trobe University attacks freedom of speech

At least three La Trobe University student activists are under threat of expulsion for their participation in a campaign to stop major cuts in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS) Faculty writes Socialist Alternative.

Danica Cheesley is falsely accused of breaking a security guard's ribs.

Midway through 2012, the university announced that they were cutting hundreds of humanities subjects and sacking 41 full time equivalent staff. In particular the university is gutting linguistics, art history, gender sexuality and diversity, and religious studies.

A peaceful student campaign of civil disobedience was launched in opposition to the cuts. Hundreds of students and staff held meetings, and participated in demonstrations and occupations during second semester. Such opposition to the cuts was met with hostility from the administration.

The university went out of its way to silence students. It employed tens of extra security guards and deployed them around campus. At a demonstration on Open Day one of these security guards physically assaulted a student.

The incident was shown on national television and the security guard was stood down for the day. Students were followed around campus, filmed, photographed and threatened by the administration. Staff were instructed, under threat of dismissal, that they were not allowed to participate in any demonstrations.

In a stunning display of hypocrisy Vice Chancellor John Dewar claimed that the demonstration on Open Day was “fantastic”, and that the campaign added “colour and movement to life on campus”.

Now, months later, three students have been served with “general misconduct” charges from the university and are under threat of expulsion.

A number of students have been charged with serious offenses. One female student is accused of “breaking the ribs” of one security guard and assaulting four others. The students unequivocally reject the charges. Danica Cheesley, one of the accused said:

“These accusations are pure inventions of the university [and] designed to silence dissent. Students have every right to engage in peaceful civil disobedience against outrageous attacks on our education. As far as I can see, I have been charged with organising and encouraging students to protest in support of their education.”

The “misconduct” hearings are closed and the students are denied any right to legal representation. In fact, the university statue states that, while the accused “may be accompanied by a support person”, such a support person cannot even be a “person with a law degree”, let alone a “legal practitioner”. In other words, anyone who might actually be in a position to inform the accused of their legal rights is prohibited from accompanying the accused to the hearing!

La Trobe Student Union Disabilities Officer Emma Dook, who is not one of those charged, has come out against the university’s victimisation of education activists:

“This is a kangaroo court. If the university seriously wants to accuse students of assault let them take it to an actual court of justice. At least there you could rely on a serious investigation and some level of public scrutiny.”

Students are launching a La Trobe Free Speech Defence campaign against these outrageous charges. There will be a meeting on Tuesday 18 December at 6pm at Trades Hall in Melbourne. All supporters of public education and freedom of speech on campus are welcome and encouraged to come. To get involved or to find out more call Danica (0433 667 951) or Jess (0448 390 383).

Join the facebook group “La Trobe Free Speech Defence”. Sign this to defend the La Trobe Three.


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