Posted on August 5, 2005

Freedom of Speech

Michael Duffy, Radio National (Aus.), August 1, 2005

Andrew Fraser is a professor of law at Sydney’s Macquarie University. Recently he has called for a return of the white Australia policy. A phone poll (which had 35,000 callers) conducted by Channel 9’s A Current Affair showed 85 per cent of the audience agreed with Professor Fraser’s controversial stand. Others see him as a racist. Andrew Fraser puts his case on Counterpoint.


Michael Duffy: Well there’ve been some amazing scenes in the past week or two at Macquarie University in northwestern Sydney over a major free speech controversy. The vice-chancellor, Di Yerbury, publicly apologised for comments about immigration made by associate professor of law, Andrew Fraser. The professor had a letter published in the local newspaper which was prompted by the settlement of Sudanese refugees in the area.

Fraser regretted the steady erosion of what he calls Anglo-Australians’ distinctive national identity. Fraser works in the Department of Public Law, and he wrote, ‘Experience practically everywhere in the world tells us that an expanding black population is a sure-fire recipe for increases in crime, violence and a wide range of other social problems. Last week the university tried to persuade Fraser to resign, and when he refused, they suspended him from teaching.

We recorded the following interview just before the 2 o’clock class that Andrew Fraser was about to go into, and as we go to air now, Andrew Fraser is holding an informal class because he’s been locked out of the classroom that he normally uses — due to security concerns.

Andrew Fraser, welcome to Counterpoint. Let’s run through the story from the start. How did the university initially respond to your letter to the Parramatta Sun?

Andrew Fraser: Oh, their initial response was just make it clear that you’re not speaking on behalf of the university, and that’s all they said.

Michael Duffy: Now, what’s the exact law there, can you actually sign a letter to a newspaper with your title at the university?

Andrew Fraser: Well, I just sent them an email with my signature attached to it. I’d never even thought about it, personally, but then the reporter or the letters editor at the Sun phoned me up and discovered obviously that I was an academic, and that made him all the more interested in the letter.

Michael Duffy: I understand the vice-chancellor has apologised to representatives of the Sudanese community for the fact that you signed the letter like that. Are you saying that that was an accident?

Andrew Fraser: Partly an accident — but the fact is that because I’m an academic and teach and research in areas such as American constitutional history and Australian immigration law, I actually do know more about subjects like race, racial differences and racial conflict than the ordinary citizen.

Michael Duffy: Okay, so that’s an important point — you’re actually speaking within your area of expertise.

Andrew Fraser: Yes.

Michael Duffy: Di Yerbury also told the Sudanese people that the university as a whole dissociates itself from your views. Does the vice-chancellor actually have the power to do that — to dissociate an entire organisation from a particular view?

Andrew Fraser: Well, I don’t think the organisation per se has ever taken a view on these subjects. I would be very surprised to learn when, where, and indeed how they would take such a view.

Michael Duffy: Are you aware of anything like this happening before?

Andrew Fraser: No.

Michael Duffy: Has anyone at the university criticised the factual content of your claim regarding a link between an expanding black population and crime?

Andrew Fraser: No.

Michael Duffy: So why do you think they’re so upset?

Andrew Fraser: Because — for example — the issue of sub-Saharan African IQs, which are somewhere in the neighbourhood of 70 to 75 — this is a fact that is well known to psychologists but they prefer not to talk about it.

Michael Duffy: I understand that the IQ of Asian people on the same scale is actually higher than that of Europeans.

Andrew Fraser: Yes. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 105, apparently.

Michael Duffy: Is this racism? Racism is attributing certain characteristics to certain races, isn’t it, so in a technical sense — not a moral sense — is what you’re saying racist?

Andrew Fraser: Well, I prefer to call it racial realism. It’s just recognition that races, or descent groups, if you prefer, are different across a whole range of characteristics. Cognitive ability being one. But athletic ability being another. If you want to think in those terms, black Africans clearly stand out as being superior in many respects to white Europeans.

Michael Duffy: It’s interesting, isn’t it, that you’re a university academic; you spoke out on this subject that should be verifiable according to scientific research, and yet the university has not tried to enter into that discussion — at least, so far.

Andrew Fraser: Well, as the controversy broke, I provided Professor Loxton with the text PDF files of the basic references involved.

Michael Duffy: Who is Professor Loxton?

Andrew Fraser: The deputy vice-chancellor, who had charge of the matter while the vice-chancellor was overseas.

Michael Duffy: Just to stick with the story of the university’s response, for the moment, we’ll come back to your views later, perhaps — I understand that on 26 July, that’s last week, you met with Tim Sprague, the university director of human resources, who offered to buy out your contract. Did he say why he was making that offer? I should just say that the university has said that he didn’t talk about the fact that it was affecting the university’s capacity to attract foreign students. What do you say to that?

Andrew Fraser: Well, in our initial telephone contact, he told me that the university wanted to buy out my contract because they were suffering reputational damage and loss of students as a consequence of the controversy. The next day, when I spoke to him face to face, he told me essentially that the university was a business, it had a business plan; that business plan was oriented to attracting foreign students, and the controversy over my public comments was impacting adversely on their attempt to get into that market.

Michael Duffy: And you’re at the moment intending to resign in the middle of next year, but they offered to pay out your contract until then.

Andrew Fraser: Yes.

Michael Duffy: And what was your decision? What did you decide?

Andrew Fraser: I decided not to because, essentially, while they were going to buy out my contract financially, on the personal level they were refusing to extend to me the status of honorary associate, you know, with email access and so on that most retired academics who are still active in research and scholarship customarily receive.

Michael Duffy: And they’ve declined to do that for you?

Andrew Fraser: Yes. So in effect what they were offering me was a dishonourable discharge.

Michael Duffy: Andrew, let’s talk briefly about your views, then. You’ve said the white Australia policy should never have been discarded. What ill effects do you think that that discarding has had on Australia, as of today?

Andrew Fraser: Well, as we can see in this controversy, I mean, it has bred enormous — so far suppressed — ethnic conflict. As far as I can see there are a great many ordinary white Australians who really do believe that they are losing their country. And moreover feel fearful about making any sort of public complaint about that loss. So it seems to me that is one of the major unreported costs of a multiracial society.

Michael Duffy: That sense of loss, you’re talking about.

Andrew Fraser: Yes. People often say multiculturalism is working well. But of course the minute one raises any questions about it — for example the antidiscrimination commissioner in New South Wales has been reported as saying publicly my comments could lead to blood in the streets. Now, I mean, if multiculturalism is so fragile a beast that the comments of an academic in a local newspaper could bring the whole edifice crashing down, there’s something wrong here.

Michael Duffy: What evidence do you think there is for this widespread sense of loss that you just talked about?

Andrew Fraser: Well, I’ve been getting hundreds of emails and letters from people who express that to me. Contrary to the view that white Australians are racist and they hate other peoples, it’s not that at all. I think the dominant feeling is love for the Australia of old, and fear for what the future holds as that old Anglo-Australian nation is pushed aside.

Michael Duffy: You went on a television program last week and I think they did a viewers’ poll afterwards. Can you tell us the results of that?

Andrew Fraser: Well, apparently 35,000 people rang in to answer the question whether they agreed with my view that African and Asian immigration was bad for Australia —

Michael Duffy: This was A Current Affair, I think, wasn’t it?

Andrew Fraser: Yes — and apparently 85% of them agreed with the view I was taking.

Michael Duffy: Getting back to the issue of crime, what would you say is the evidence that the settlement of black people around Parramatta will lead to an increase in crime in that area?

Andrew Fraser: Well, if you looked, as I said, to experience elsewhere, in the United States, 90% of interracial crime in the United States is committed by people of black African descent. Black African Americans are four to eight times as likely to commit violent crime as white Americans. If you look at England the same pattern emerges, the same pattern emerges elsewhere in continental Europe, Canada. And if you look at Africa — South Africa for example, there are 30,000 murders per year in South Africa. And black Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, is obviously notorious as a scene of violent crime, war — it’s just a fact.

Michael Duffy: Had you always held these views about race?

Andrew Fraser: No. In fact, I mean, I was never very interested in race at all. As we can see, most white Australians do not — or white Canadians — do not actually like to think of themselves as members of a racial group. And I was fairly typical in that. But over the last ten to fifteen years it has become plain to me that members of other ethnic and religious groups are very interested in their particular racial or ethnic identity, and had no hesitation whatever in identifying themselves as members of particular ethno-cultural groups and promoting the interests of those groups. So, in short, what’s going on here is everybody else is playing the game of identity politics, and white Australians are willy-nilly being forced to play catch-up in that game.

Michael Duffy: Do you talk about this sort of thing in class very often?

Andrew Fraser: Yes.

Michael Duffy: And how do your students respond — do they talk about it too?

Andrew Fraser: Oh, initially, of course, having gone through the public school or private school system which is totally pro-multiculture, pro-third world immigration — shock, horror is the usual response. But I think in micro their response is much like the response of the public at large to this issue. Once the question is raised and a different view receives an airing, then people really can’t get enough of it.

Michael Duffy: What do you think the university is so afraid of? Why are they making such persistent efforts to respond to what you’ve done?

Andrew Fraser: Well, you know, this is a funny sort of question, because it seems to me it says something about the distinctive ethnic character of white Europeans. I think what’s going on here is that what distinguishes white Europeans from other ethnic groups is a kind of competitive altruism. We really do feel as if we need to sacrifice our interests for the benefit of other groups, and it makes us feel good when we do that. So to be anti-racist is to prove one’s moral superiority.

Michael Duffy: Do you think the Sudanese people around Parramatta would have been offended or hurt by what you said?

Andrew Fraser: Well, they claimed to have been. I personally don’t believe it. I mean, I think really, once again, it’s a stick to beat me and white Australia over the head with. They are a group of people who, once again, have a clear sense of their identity as Africans, and a clear desire to promote their particular ethnic interests.

Michael Duffy: Okay, we’ll leave it there. Thanks very much for coming on the program.

Andrew Fraser is associate professor at Macquarie University in the Department of Public Law.

I’ve received an email from Di Yerbury, the vice-chancellor of Macquarie, saying that income from foreign students has not been part of the university’s thinking on this matter, and she does not aspire to curb anyone’s right to free speech. I might say that when I studied at Macquarie in the 1970s there was an effort to stop visiting psychologist Hans Eysenck from talking about race and IQ, but in those days the protest came from the students, not the administrators.

Well, what do you think? Do academics have the right to express views that might offend people? Should Australian citizens be allowed to say what they think about immigration, and are the financial needs of universities perhaps threatening academic freedom? We’d like to know your views. Give us a call on 1300 790 133, or post a message in our guestbook at the ABC website, which of course is — or you can send us an email at [email protected]

[Editor’s Note: More on this story here.]