– NSW Young Liberals ban me from speaking at USyd Conservative Club discussion about Brittany HIggins.

Bettina Arndt
Mar 13

Last time I spoke at Sydney University, the riot squad had to be called in to protect my audience from the baying mob of feminist activists trying to close the speech down. That was in 2018 and they didn’t like the fact I was speaking out about their efforts to force universities to set up kangaroo courts to adjudicate sexual assault.

Having these activists trying to stifle free speech was just to be expected from the authoritarian left. But I have just been cancelled again – and this time by the Young Liberals, for Heaven’s sake. What does that say about the future of the Liberal Party when they are the ones shutting down proper debate?

Next Tuesday, the University of Sydney Conservatives Club is hosting a discussion evening focussed on the Higgins case. I was approached three months ago to appear on a panel, along with Chris Merritt, Vice President of the Rule of Law Institute, and author Andrew Urban. The young women organising the event did a terrific job putting together thoughtful discussion points including the use of the case for political ends, undermining of the presumption of innocence, concerns about unmeritorious cases being brought before the courts, damage to the credibility of the media and the impact of #MeToo.

It was just perfect for setting the scene for civilised debate for a select audience – the event was promoted solely to the Conservative Club students. Ironically the last event hosted by the club just two weeks ago featured Tony Abbott and the famous UK commentator, Konstantin Kisin, who argues freedom of speech is the cornerstone of Western Civilisation.

Clearly Kisin’s important message failed to impact on the blinkered views of the President of the NSW Young Liberals, Chanum Torres, who has just taken it upon himself to cancel me. Yesterday he announced to the female students running our event that they weren’t permitted to include me at a Conservative Club event – apparently Young Liberals NSW has final control over the Club’s activities. Amazingly he suggested that hosting an event which included me could ruin the career of the art/law student who was the major organiser.

It is quite bizarre and extremely alarming that this young man, who presumably has set his sights on a career in Liberal politics, should join the ranks of the thought police. Torres preferred the event didn’t take place at all – but the organisers have stuck to their guns and the event is proceeding with just my two male panellists to handle the discussion. But when it comes to promotion, once again Torres has interfered, demanding that Higgins is not mentioned in the advertising for the event. The current promotion simply mentions “Lawfare in Australia,” a very bland and rather misleading presentation of the proposed discussion which was originally promoted as “Higgins Unpacked.”

Apparently, Torres is not acting off his own bat, but rather has been leant on by other senior members of the organisation. And there are many Young Libs objecting strenuously to my exclusion, so there’s dissension in the ranks, with factional issues at play.

Yet the fact remains that key Young Libs are determined that Higgins remains unpacked. Torres has failed to answer a series of questions asking him to explain the reasoning for his decision. For instanc I asked him if he might subscribe to a preferred narrative regarding the Higgins case and was concerned these beliefs might be challenged.

Heaven forbid that some of the student audience might open their minds to alternative perspectives on the issue. It just shows what a great job the Brittany Higgins cheer squad has done to shut down proper discussion of true facts of this case.

It’s a very bad look for Young Liberals to be opposed to uncensored public discussion of the social and political implications of this critical legal case. The conundrum faced by young conservatives was addressed by Konstantin Kisin, during his recent tour of Australia. At the end of his two-week tour of Australia he warned that this country has been infected by the woke virus, with people afraid to speak out on any number of issues. “While the centre left appears its extremist fringe, many on the centre right hesitate to challenge the cultural vandalism they observe for fear of being described as ‘cultural warriors’.”

Was that the fear that prompted this worrying move by the Young Liberals? They know that a thorough dissection of the Brittany Higgins saga would lead to the usual twitter storm from the lunatic fringe who control so much of university culture. If that was enough to lead our future Liberal leaders to cower in fear, the future of inspiring political leadership in this country looks very bleak indeed.

It’s a strange thing that this 74 year-old grandmother still has them quaking in their boots.

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© 2024 Bettina Arndt
Sydney, Australia