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Anyone who goes to uni knows free speech on campus is stifled

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Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan says universities are "failing Australia" by refusing to champion free speech on campus. Discuss. Just don't discuss it in your "Queering Marxism" tute lest your wokeness be called into question.

"There's a growing sense," Tehan wrote in The Australian last weekend, "that some students… are self-censoring out of fear they'll be shouted down or condemned for expressing sincerely held views and beliefs, or for challenging widely accepted ideas."

Melbourne Uni now has a free speech policy.Credit:Joe Armao

This is one of those topics that necessitates separating the message from the tarnished messenger. A crusade for free speech on campus is another of the government's hey-look-over-there! capers.

A government-commissioned report by former High Court chief justice, now chancellor of the University of Western Australia, Robert French, found no evidence of a "systemic" crisis of free speech on Australian campuses. But as with the Ruddock report on freedom of religion, which found freedom of religion was not under threat, the French review sounds just enough cautionary notes for the government to open a new flank in the culture wars.

It's hard to talk about free speech at unis without resorting to generalisations and tropes. That said, anyone who seriously doubts leftist groupthink is stifling campus debate, especially in the humanities, has either avoided hanging around universities or come to love Big Brother.

I wasn't in the........

© The Age