Uni activist disciplinary hearing left in turmoil
A UNIVERSITY student activist fighting his expulsion abandoned his disciplinary hearing claiming the process was not legitimate.
The University of Queensland disciplinary hearing lasted just over an hour yesterday before prominent Brisbane barrister Tony Morris representing third-year student Drew Pavlou, a self-professed "anti-CCP" activist, walked out of the hearing.
Mr Morris QC said the disciplinary panel had decided not to comply with its own rules.
"The hearing commenced, there was a discussion about the proposition that the two staff members should recuse themselves from sitting on the panel since the university pays their salary," he said.
"After some further discussions, I called for the documents which under the charter for this body they are required to make available to Drew. They stood down for 10 or 15 minutes.
"But after those 10 to 15 minutes they decided they would not be requiring the production of documents which I consider essential to prove Drew's innocence, once that occurred we made clear we were not going to participate in a hearing where they do not comply with their own charter."
Mr Morris said the rules of the disciplinary hearing mean Mr Pavlou should be given access to any documents the university has that are "relevant to defending himself".
"We sought access to documents … that show positively on the very day he was beaten and bashed by pro-Beijing activists the vice chancellor of this institution was liaising with the Chinese consulate general as to how they should manage their public relations response," he said.
"The panel has refused our insistence we be given access to those documents to prove his innocence to the charges."
Mr Morris said the copies that were made available to Mr Pavlou are subject to a confidentiality undertaking, which is why they sought the copies to be made available in the hearing, in arguing of the student's case.
"They can try and expel me, I welcome it, good luck to them, we'll see them in court, we'll see them in the Supreme Court of Queensland," Mr Pavlou said after the hearing.
Mr Morris said he couldn't see this stopping anywhere short of the Supreme Court.
A UQ spokesperson said the university's policies were not driven by politics and rejected the claims that the ongoing disciplinary matter was a free speech issue, citing student disciplinary matters were initiated in response to complaints.
The spokesperson said it was appropriate for the University to provide a safe environment on campus and online to protect their welfare and mental health.
"Part of this is ensuring complaints are fairly considered through a standard, confidential disciplinary process, which is being followed in this case," they said.
"Eroding or undermining these processes reduces the likelihood that students and others will feel safe to report behaviour which they feel is inappropriate or unacceptable.
"For this reason, we cannot respond or engage in discussions on our student disciplinary matters - even if this means we cannot correct inaccuracies that misrepresent the University."
There are 11 allegations of misconduct levelled against Mr Pavlou, which he was facing at the disciplinary hearing.
Mr Pavlou said he was no longer interested in studying at UQ but would "lose everything" if he was expelled.
"I just want to get the graduation certificate and have the chancellor hand it to me on stage as a flex … Just so I can say I won."
Before the hearing commenced Mr Pavlou said he was confident the university would expel him but he had "never felt better".
"We will win in the appeal, we'll go all the way to the Supreme Court or the high court. It's about the vibe. It's about justice. We're going to win."
Mr Morris said it could not be happening on a more appropriate day, where newspapers had reported the Chinese government had proclaimed the Australian government "as a joke".
"Such a funny joke that they're trying to bankrupt the barley growers and beef producers for making that joke in the first place," Mr Morris said.
"It couldn't be more opportune for this entire exercise which is about protecting the university's reputation over its alliance with the butchers of Beijing."
Originally published as UQ activist disciplinary hearing left in turmoil