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Josh Frydenberg - Liberal for Kooyong
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Questions Without Notice (24 May 2018)

Date: Thursday, 24 May 2018 3:00 PM
Location: House of Representatives

Mr O'DOWD (Flynn): My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy, representing the Minister for Education and Training. Is the minister aware of reports that the National Tertiary Education Union is seeking to restrict the study of our history and that of Western civilisation? How is this consistent with principles of the academic freedom at our universities?

Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong—Minister for the Environment and Energy): I thank the member for Flynn his question. Paul Ramsay was a health pioneer and one of Australia's most successful businessmen. He cared deeply about our history, he cared deeply about our culture and he cared about our society. Like many on this side of the House, he was concerned that Australian universities were no longer teaching the basics of Western civilisation. As the member for Warringah reminded us, Paul, to take a leaf out of Monty Python, would often say, 'What has Western civilisation done for us?' How about democracy? How about freedom of speech? How about freedom of religion? How about the rule of law? How about intellectual and artistic curiosity? And how about market capitalism? It's not just the aqueducts but everything else.

You would think when the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was offering our universities scholarships and the opportunity to support courses in Western civilisation that they would be supported but, no. The National Tertiary Education Union calls Western civilisation courses 'narrow', 'radical', 'promulgating the alleged superiority of Western culture and civilisation'. The National University Student Association calls it a 'rhetorical tool to continue the racist prioritisation of Western history and other cultures'. How can it be racist to teach about the rule of law? How can it be racist to teach about freedom of speech? How can it be racist to teach about democracy? How can it be radical to promote academic freedom? I tell you what is radical: the member for Melbourne's PhD thesis at one of our universities. It was titled: 'Work to Rule: Rethinking Marx'. Obviously Marx was too conservative. 

It is hoped that those on that side of the House will get behind the Centre for Western Civilisation - like Kim Beazley, who's a board member on the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. It's time that all sides of this House - Liberal National, and Labor - got behind the Centre for Western Civilisation, condemned the unions and reminded the Australian people everything that Western civilisation has done for our humanity and for our society.

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