Maverick MP Bob Katter wants inquiry into Australia's universities
Maverick Queensland MP Bob Katter has vowed to go after Australia’s universities, saying they are beholden to the Chinese Government.
In a surprising move, Mr Katter shared the dais with student activist Drew Pavlou.
The University of Queensland suspended Mr Pavlou, 21, after allegations of serious misconduct were upheld by the university’s Senate Disciplinary Appeals Committee. The university disciplined Mr Pavlou over comments he made about China online and for his behaviour during a protest stunt regarding China’s treatment of Hong Kong.
Mr Pavlou is suing University of Queensland, its chancellor and vice-chancellor for $3.5 million.
The claims have been filed in the Supreme Court of Queensland for damages relating to a breach of contract and defamation.
“This is a university that only cares about money. I want to hit them where it hurts, in the hip pocket,” Mr Pavlou said.
“We need to make universities public again, and we need the Government to fund them.
“Universities need to be funded properly so they don’t need to go to the Chinese Government to fund them.”
Mr Katter said he was moved to meet with Mr Pavlou after watching his recent 60 Minutes interview and said the Katter Australian Party fought for “arbitration”.
The MP for Kennedy said he already had several colleagues in parliament who would support an inquiry into foreign influence into universities.
“It will be a very stupid member of parliament that does not vote with us,” he said.
Mr Katter said it was time to “pull the curtain back on the vile striptease” and see that Australian universities weren’t owned by Chinese communists.
“They’ve sold their integrity and their soul for a bowl of porridge,” Mr Katter said.
Mr Katter said it was time Australian universities quit being “visa shops” and that he would be going after them.
University of Queensland vice-chancellor professor Peter Hoj said the university would fully co-operate with an inquiry into the sector.
“An urgent debate that needs to be had is how Australia, in the absence of international student revenues, can sustain and further grow our world-class research effort in concert with business to secure our future prosperity and enhance our self-sufficiency,” he said.
“More broadly, a sensible and balanced public discussion about the opportunities and risks in the links between Australian universities and China is both important and needed.”