Universities’ stonewalling of questions from Labor and Liberal Senators about their links to the Chinese Communist Party is unacceptable, according to Advance Australia spokesman Will Jefferies.
“Legitimate questions were asked at a Senate inquiry this week seeking to get to the bottom of CCP interference on our campuses but all the university sector did was obstruct and downplay the severity of the issue,” Mr Jefferies said.
“It simply isn’t good enough to cover-up the influence the CCP has had in shutting down free speech about Hong Kong democracy and human rights on Australian campuses.’
“We can’t have our universities running a protection racket for the CCP.
“Questions were raised about the CCP’s Confucius Institutes and its Thousand Talents Program which is suspected of transferring of some of Australia’s most valuable and sensitive intellectual property to Beijing,” Mr Jefferies said.
However questions from Labor’s Senator Kimberley Kitching and the Liberals’ Senators Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Eric Abetz went unanswered by Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson who said they were matters for the respective universities and not the peak bodies.
Mr Jefferies said Advance Australia welcomes the Morrison government’s proposed laws giving the Commonwealth power to scrutinise, and potentially veto, collaboration with foreign governments or entities.
“It was disappointing to see the university sector playing down the threat to Australia posed by the CCP and the over-reliance of our universities on international students and foreign research grants.
“Free speech and protection of Australia’s intellectual property must become the priorities of our university sector,” Mr Jefferies said.