The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has questioned the decision of the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) this week to keep the agreement between the Ramsay Centre and the University of Queensland secret.
The National Tertiary Education Union – Queensland Division (NTEU-QLD) had applied for an External Review of University of Queensland (UQ) management’s refusal to release the full Philanthropic Agreement between UQ management and the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation through Right to Information.
“This decision undermines the very purpose of our public universities and the values which UQ espouse of transparency and accountability,” NTEU Queensland Division Secretary Michael McNally said today.
“The OIC’s decision has profound implications for academic freedom and governance. Ramsay and UQ management were very careful to ensure, even from the MOU stage, that the deal would be kept secret via confidentiality clauses,” McNally said. “While NTEU supports institutional autonomy as well as academic freedom, there needs to be transparency in institutional decision-making for the university system to function effectively.”
NTEU UQ Branch President, Andrew Bonnell, an Associate Professor in History questioned the secretive nature of the Philanthropic Agreement and what was being withheld.
“You have to ask what is being hidden here,” Associate Professor Bonnell said. “UQ management and right-wing Liberal Party figures, who are behind the Ramsay Centre, have colluded to keep things secret from the wider UQ community and from the public.”
On Queensland’s Right to Information Act, McNally said: “It is a toothless tiger if the question of public interest fails before it can even be applied. The ability for UQ management to simply write ‘commercial-in-confidence’ on any document to avoid public scrutiny makes a mockery of the public’s right to information, particularly when it concerns deals struck between our public universities and third parties.”