Observations from a short sojourn in Sydney
There are few better places in the world for a Scotsman to spend a three-month Sabbatical than Sydney. As a general observation, Australia is in a much healthier position than the UK. You are not as far down the progressive/regressive rabbit hole into which we are fast disappearing. But there are warning signs.
Possibly the most chilling story I read was that of the Revolutionary Tribunals at the University of Technology Sydney. Four-person panels are to be set up, including two students, who will act as an extrajudicial panel to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. The most chilling aspect of this were the rules for the panel which state: “A university Student Conduct Committee is not bound by the rules of evidence and may inform itself on any matter it thinks fit”. So a revolutionary tribunal (sorry – “extrajudicial panel”) has the power to expel students and it is “not bound by the rules of evidence”! Farewell justice and freedom.
The reaction in Sydney to the ANU refusal of the millions offered to set up a centre to study Western Civilisation was illuminating and depressing. Sydney University union leaders stated that no money must be accepted until all academic staff have been consulted. I wonder if they apply the same criteria to Chinese and Muslim billionaires who offer large sums of money?
Would “academic” freedom include the right to have a course on the history of the nation of Taiwan? Or one on deconstructing the Koran, as so often happens with University courses on the Bible? Would a research proposal which wanted to look at the effects on those who have “transgendered” and now want to return to their original gender, be accepted? I loved sitting in the coffee shops in Newtown but felt a degree of sorrow as thousands of students walked past – like lambs to the cultural Marxist slaughter. Sydney University, like many others, should be renamed a monoversity because it, in practice, does not permit diversity of views.
The Australian press have quickly got over the Steven Smith cricketing debacle (although I loved the story about his autobiography being moved to the crime section!) and have found themselves a new hate figure – the best rugby player in the world, Israel Folau. He had the temerity to say that he was against same-sex marriage and then was caught out saying that he believed homosexuals need to repent or they would go to hell.
Given that he believes, as do most of the Christian churches, that everyone needs to repent, this should hardly have been a shock. But Folau was treated as though he had committed the Blasphemy against the Holy State – and were it not for Australian rugby’s desperate need of a decent player, he probably would have lost his job. Australia has the same problem with intolerance in the name of tolerance that the UK has. A senior lawyer told me that while he was OK, the career of any junior lawyer in his firm who expressed the view that same-sex marriage was wrong would be finished.
Is ABC a euphemism for “Anyone but Christians”? I get the impression that the ABC is even worse than the BBC in its liberal bias. One example was watching a panel show called The Drum on which the four panelists and the presenter gave just one point of view on gay conversion therapy and counseling for trans people. Apparently it would have been too ridiculous to allow any other point of view. “Do we want a political party where everyone thinks the same,” said the Liberal spokesperson, while appearing on a panel show agreeing that in reality they do. They mocked and caricatured the idea that children who have a psychological condition like Gender Identity Disorder need psychological counselling. We were told it is not modern thinking, and the equivalent to “let’s boil them in oil and chop off their heads”. All of this was said without a hint of challenge…or evidence of any reasoned thought. It was just emotive virtue signaling.
The Scots once claimed to be the nation that saved Western civilisation. Our day has gone. Now it’s your turn. Let it be
David Robertson is a Presbyterian minister, heading back to exile in Scotland