Bob Katter has issued a scathing assessment of universities in Australia, comparing them to ‘prostitutes’ who have ‘sold their body and soul’ to China.
The polarising politician is supporting an inquiry into foreign interference on Australian tertiary institutions.
Some of Australia’s top universities, including the University of New South Wales and University of Queensland, have been accused of bowing to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party in recent months.
Katter, an Independent under Katter’s Australian Party, fronted a press conference on Monday to discuss the inquiry alongside Barnaby Joyce, the Federal Member for New England.
UQ rejected claims by Mr Pavlou (pictured) that his suspension was politically motivated
Strangely, the 75-year-old arrived at the conference wearing a crocodile face mask, before peeling it off and condemning academic institutions in Australia.
He said that ‘universities should be a nursery of ideas and a garden of freedom’ but have instead been turned into ‘a pigsty’.
‘If you return the universities to their proper functions and not being prostitutes — they’re not really prostitutes, they only sell their bodies. These people have sold their bodies and their souls. They should be stopped,’ he said.
‘You will not get away with this in Australia.’
Katter said the current university admissions system was more like a ‘visa shop’ than a testament of talent and ability.
The Security and Intelligence Committee will investigate allegations universities are closely connected with the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr Pavlou confirmed he would be speaking at the inquiry and hoped it would create a safer future for other students
Drew Pavlou (pictured) is a passionate activist for Taiwan and Hong Kong independence, as well as an anti-poverty campaigner
Drew Pavlou (pictured) was banned from completing his philosophy degree until 2022 on Friday after the university accused him of 11 cases of misconduct, which were detailed in a confidential 186-page document
Most recently, University of Queensland has been criticised for suspending student activist Drew Pavlou.
He claims he was suspended after holding several pro-Hong Kong protests in July, and alleges he has been mistreated by the university ever since.
Mr Pavlou was banned from completing his philosophy degree until 2022 after the university accused him of 11 cases of misconduct, which were detailed in a confidential 186-page document.
The 21-year-old has begun Supreme Court proceedings against the university for breach of contract and defamation.
UQ has rejected Mr Pavlou’s claims.
Mr Pavlou confirmed he would be speaking at the inquiry and hoped it would create a safer future for other students.
He wrote on Twitter: ‘We won. Government launching full inquiry into CCP interference in Australian universities. No student will ever have to go through what I went through for speaking out.’
Independent MP Bob Katter speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House about foreign interference in Australian education institutions
University of New South Wales was criticised earlier this month for allegedly bowing to external pressures after it deleted a social media post supporting an article about human rights in Hong Kong
‘For all the Chinese students who had their families visited by Chinese state security forces for attending our pro-Hong Kong protest at UQ last year. This inquiry is for you. We want to live in an Australia that protects your right to freedom of expression.’
After the government announced the inquiry, Katter publicly supported Mr Pavlou.
‘We did it @DrewPavlou,’ he wrote, before endorsing several of Mr Pavlou’s statements by reposting them on his own account.
University of New South Wales was also criticised earlier this month for allegedly bowing to external pressures after it deleted a social media post supporting an article about human rights in Hong Kong.
In the article, Elaine Pearson, who is the Australian Director of Human Rights Watch, wrote: ‘Now is a pivotal moment to bring attention to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Hong Kong’.
The inquiry comes less than a week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison introduced unprecedented new legislation which allows the commonwealth to tear up contracts struck between state governments and foreign bodies.
The federal government will be able to stop agreements which they believe could threaten Australia’s national sovereignty.
Most recently, University of Queensland has been criticised for suspending student activist Drew Pavlou
A police officer stands in front of a Chinese flag during a pro-democracy Hong Kong rally