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Free speech at Australian universities: Where do we draw the line?

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Australian universities are under fire for not doing enough to protect free speech.

It comes as protesters continue to derail events of controversial speakers, and it’s brought universities’ freedom-of-speech policies to the forefront.

“In universities, it’s meant to be a factory of ideas, where you can throw ideas around,” says John Stanley.

“I wouldn’t have thought that a university is a place where you should be saying, ‘Well you can’t hear that”.

“That’d be the first place you can say it. Let’s hear and let’s discuss it.”

A new policy framework is being put together by the Centre for Independent Studies which aims to uncover universities that fail to adequately protect freedom of speech.

But where do we draw the line?

Author of the report Doctor Jeremy Sammut tells John Australia is in danger of becoming like the US.

“So-called controversial speakers who say things that are claimed to be offensive or hurtful to certain members of the university.

“This really goes against the fundamental principle of the university, which is free and open to inquiry.”

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Dr Sammut is proposing Australian universities implement certain policies from the US where the government intervenes to encourage universities to adopt policies that will promote free speech.