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Australian professor claims ‘unlawful’ firing for criticizing Greta Thunberg

‘When they want you out, they just push you out,’ former professor said

An Australian academic says his university unlawfully terminated him for criticizing Gen Z climate activist Greta Thunberg using his personal account on X.

Former Deputy Dean of Research and Innovation Andrew Timming was fired from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, days before Christmas for “exercising [his] workplace rights” to academic freedom, he wrote on his personal website.

“If [students] knew what really happened to ‘thought criminals’ like me, they would be appalled,” Timming (pictured) told The College Fix in an email.

“But, then again, there is a minority of woke activists that fully and openly support the suppression of speech with extreme prejudice,” he wrote. “I do not believe that most students are woke, but they are a loud and powerful group and, for whatever reason, university administrators are terrified of offending them.”

RMIT University declined to comment on Timming’s claims because the school does not publicly address matters about individual staff, current or former, a spokesperson told The Fix in an email.

Timming stated his road to termination began when he posted to X in response to comments made on the platform by climate activist Greta Thunberg to social media personality Andrew Tate.

In Tate’s original post, he had tagged Thunberg and asked for her email address so he could send her a list of the cars he owns and their emissions.

“yes, please do enlighten me,” Thunberg responded. “Email me at [email protected].”

Timming, in response to the praise Thunberg received for her comments, attempted to point out a double standard in a now-deleted post on Dec. 29, 2022.

“Demeaning sexual jokes when directed from a woman to a man,” the post read, ending with a smiling emoji and a winking emoji. “Demeaning sexual jokes when directed from a man to a woman,” it stated, followed by a bomb emoji and a skull and crossbones emoji.

Following the post, RMIT threatened Timming with disciplinary action and bullied him for his comments, he said on his website. He lodged a complaint in May 2023 alleging a violation of the school’s academic freedom policy.

One week later, Timming said he was “stood down,” or suspended, by RMIT because the university had initiated a clause in his contract with the school called “Termination of Employment on Grounds of Ill Health,” according to his website.

However, Timming claimed that the day before, RMIT was provided with a doctor’s note, which The Fix reviewed, clearing him to work.

The university fired him in December, allegedly for neglecting to teach courses that were not in his “work plan,” responsibilities he had been disputing under the RMIT Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.

The real reason he was fired “was over [the] tweet,” Timming wrote.

“When they want you out, they just push you out,” Timming told The Fix when asked about RMIT’s alleged use of “ill health” as grounds for initially suspending him.

At present, Timming is fighting his termination with an appeal to RMIT’s vice chancellor, who must convene an appeal panel chaired by a non-employee of the university, Timming told The Fix when asked about his next steps.

The Free Speech Union of Australia, with which Timming is associated, has launched a petition for his reinstatement at RMIT.

“Professor Andrew Timming was unlawfully dismissed by RMIT for sending an innocuous tweet,” the petition states. “We call on Professor Alec Cameron, the Vice Chancellor of RMIT, to uphold his appeal, restore academic freedom and respect workplace rights.”

Timming told The Fix this was not his first run-in with RMIT because of controversial comments he had made, but he is fighting to make sure all are safe from being punished for exercising their right to free expression.

“I’m on a mission to ensure that no one is sacked for standing up for the right to free speech,” Timming told The Fix. “This mission extends beyond RMIT. It extends beyond Australian universities. The woke agenda is infiltrating higher education across the Western world and it must be stopped.”

MORE: University of Helsinki to bestow honorary degree to Greta Thunberg

IMAGES: andrewtimming.com

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About the Author
Matthew Giffin -- Middle Tennessee State University