Words By: Matt Norman
Image Credit: The Guardian
Federal education minister Christopher Pyne has vowed to find a new home for the ‘Australian Consensus Centre’ in the wake of the University of Western Australia’s decision to withdraw its support for the project on Friday night. The university handed back $4 million of funding and pulled out of its commitment to host the centre after the involvement of ‘climate contrarian’ Bjorn Lomborg sparked strong opposition from UWA staff and students.
UWA professors had criticised Lomborg’s weak academic credentials and questioned the political motivations of his appointment as adjunct professor for the centre. Lomborg’s unpopularity has been linked to his position as a denier of anthropogenic climate change. University Vice-Chancellor Paul Johnson said the centre was in “an untenable position as it lacks the support needed across the university and the broader academic community to meet its contractual obligations and deliver value for money for Australian taxpayers”
Greens spokesperson for science and research Adam Bandt expressed his approval for the university’s decision, applauding that UWA “had affirmed that the vital principle of academic freedom doesn’t extend to the right to make up facts”. Christopher Pyne, meanwhile, took to Twitter to announce his disappointment in the University’s decision. He said it was a “sad day for academic freedom when staff at a university silence a dissenting voice rather than test their ideas in debate”, before declaring “don’t worry, I’m certain we’ll find a new home for the Australian Consensus Centre”.
President of the UWA Student Guild Lizzy O’Shea urged other institutions to follow UWA’s lead: “If I was another university, I wouldn’t touch it after this.”