Academic's pay cut for criticising government policy


According to a May 21 Australian article, Dr Paul Mees, senior lecturer in transport and land use planning, intends to sue Melbourne University. Mees's pay was cut after a university inquiry found him guilty of making insulting remarks about a state government official.

The offending remarks were made at a forum in August. Mees, an outspoken public transport supporter, said that the authors of a Victorian government pro–transport-privatisation report were "liars and frauds and should be in jail". His comments were recorded and made available in a podcast on a university website.

The university inquiry came after a complaint from the state government.

The National Tertiary Education Union released a statement on May 20 in support of Mees and academic freedom, heavily criticising the university's approach. Matt McGowan, Victorian secretary of the NTEU, said: "This issue goes to the heart of what intellectual freedom means in our society. Universities must stand up for the right of staff in engage in robust debate against the pressures placed on it by funding bodies.

"The fact that it is a government department applying the pressure makes this an even more insidious example of their failure to meet the test they themselves have applied through their collective agreement."

Mees has resigned from Melbourne University and will take up a position at RMIT.