A science superhero with pink hair wages war on Covid-19 to convince an entire nation to lockdown. Made with funding from NZ On Air. Video / Loading Docs
Two of the nation's most well-known Covid-19 experts have filed complaints against the University of Auckland, arguing that their employer hasn't taken enough steps to protect them against "a small but venomous sector of the public" that has become increasingly "unhinged".
Professors Shaun Hendy and Siouxsie Wiles have already scored a preliminary victory in the employment stoush. The Employment Relations Authority has agreed that a review of their concerns should be expedited - skipping the authority's sometimes lengthy investigative process and instead going directly to the Employment Court, despite objections from the university.
The same ruling also orders the University of Auckland to pay the professors' legal fees to date.
"The Authority is concerned about the uncontested evidence that the harassment is escalating and is expected to continue to do so," authority member Rachel Larmer wrote in a decision issued on Christmas Eve. "The issues associated with the vaccination of children aged 5-11 years of age is already a topic that has stirred up increased vitriol towards the applicants."
Hendy, whose data-modelling expertise has been credited with having influenced the nation's Covid-19 response, and microbiologist Wiles, a science communicator who was named the 2021 New Zealander of the Year in part for helping to "make the science of the pandemic clear and understandable", first filed complaints in July.
Both experts say they've been raising concerns about their safety and have been requesting the university to help protect them since April 2020, shortly after the pandemic began. The university, they argue, has either responded inadequately or not at all.
"Associate Professor Wiles has been the subject of doxing with an associated threat to physically confront her at her home," the judgment states. "Professor Hendy has been physically confronted in his office on the university campus by an individual who threatened to 'see him soon'.
"The applicants have suffered vitriolic, unpleasant, and deeply personalised threats and harassment that has had a detrimental impact on them in terms of their physical safety and from a psychological, mental health and wellbeing perspective. The level of harassment they are facing is continuing and has been getting worse and 'more extreme' in nature."
As academics, it is part of their job requirements to share their expertise with the public, and in turn it is the university's job to make sure they are safe in doing so, they have argued. New Zealand law encourages academic freedom in which they act as the "critic and conscience of society" and "promote community learning", they said.
But in a written response to Wiles and Hendy in August, the university suggested they address the safety concerns by keeping their public commentary to a minimum. University officials also suggested they take paid leave to enable them "to minimise any social media comments at present".
3 Jul, 2020 05:00 PMQuick Read
3 Jul, 2020 05:00 PMQuick Read
13 Jun, 2020 07:32 AMQuick Read
11 Dec, 2021 04:00 PMQuick Read
While the two have every right to provide public commentary on the pandemic, they are not "expected" or required to do so, the university has told the Employment Relations Authority.
Wiles and Hendy said the suggestion was unreasonable.
"The applicants note that they have previously been asked by the (university) and the Prime Minister's Office to provide such commentary, in their roles as employees ..." the ruling noted.
The academics also disputed any suggestion they have been targeted for "outside activities" other than their work on Covid-19.
"Neither applicant experienced harassment like what they have received since theybegan publicly communicating about the Covid-19 pandemic," the Employment Relations Authority document states. "They point out that the harassment they are receiving has worsened since the anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protests have ramped up, and note that these activists have become more emboldened over time."
In the months since the initial complaints, Auckland University has ordered an external security review which found "opportunities for improvement" regarding the professors' digital and physical security. But the university's timeframe for implementing the suggestions is staggered throughout 2022, the academics noted, adding that they can't wait a year.
The Employment Relations Authority agreed that the matter should be decided sooner rather than later.
The complainants have "laid a solid evidential foundation", Larmer wrote in her ruling, that the professors have been subjected to extensive threats, harassment and abuse, "some of which appear on the face of it to be 'unhinged'".
She also noted a "significant public interest" in Wiles, Hendy and other experts being able to "publicly communicate about issues of public importance that arise from and/or are associated with the current pandemic".
"Constraining or stopping their public communications on Covid-19 related matters, as recommended by the respondent, will deprive the public of the benefit of their expertise during the current pandemic," she wrote, adding that "further delay is undesirable in the face of the apparently escalating safety risks".
But she also noted that if the professors' academic freedom position is upheld by the court, "then that will have a serious impact on how the (university) applies its limited resources, in circumstances where the pandemic has already created a fiscal deficit for the respondent".
The authority noted that employment relationship problems should generally be first investigated by the agency, with parties then able to appeal to the Employment Court after the process is completed. The university argued, unsuccessfully, that sending the issue straight to the Employment Court is unfair because it reduces the opportunities to appeal.
The Employment Court registry remains closed for Christmas until Wednesday, at which point the next steps in the employment dispute can be determined.
See more here:
- New Zealand to train Ukrainians on L119 howitzer - DefenseNews.com - May 25th, 2022
- I thought I was imagining things: New Zealand readers on close encounters with city birds - The Guardian - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealand has just joined an overtly anti-China alliance are the economic risks worth it? - The Conversation Indonesia - May 25th, 2022
- Reader call-out: What are your best memories of New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street? - The Guardian - May 25th, 2022
- Price of New Zealand passport rises - 1News - May 25th, 2022
- More people leaving New Zealand than entering as young flee high cost of living - The Guardian - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealands promised action on climate is nothing more than a tottering babys first steps - The Guardian - May 25th, 2022
- How will the Australia-New Zealand relationship change? - RNZ - May 25th, 2022
- Livestreams of Mass Shootings: From Buffalo to New Zealand - The New York Times - May 25th, 2022
- WWF-New Zealand: New Tech Is A Win-Win For Conservation And Fisheries | Scoop News - Scoop - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealand participation at World Expo crucial to build 'soft power' globally - Stuff - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealand Coastal Shipping Boost Biggest Turnaround This Century | Scoop News - Scoop - May 25th, 2022
- New Zealand Leads Medical Breakthrough In Oxygen Therapy | Scoop News - Scoop - May 25th, 2022
- Kane Williamson Set To Join New Zealand Team Ahead Of Test Series Against England - Cricket Addictor - May 25th, 2022
- Unicef report finds if everyone consumed resources like New Zealand, we would need 2.7 Earths to keep up with consumption - Newshub - May 25th, 2022
- How the Bay of Plenty could be one of New Zealand's best food destinations - New Zealand Herald - May 25th, 2022
- Dukes balls criticised ahead of New Zealand's three-test series versus England - Stuff - May 25th, 2022
- England v New Zealand live stream and team news: Ben Stokes to start role as captain against Kane... - talkSPORT - May 25th, 2022
- Coroner to open investigation into death of New Zealander Joseph Day this week - New Zealand Herald - May 25th, 2022
- Sickness season: How is New Zealand tracking with non-Covid illnesses? - New Zealand Herald - May 25th, 2022
- Gregor Paul: How New Zealand's drop goal stigma is handing an advantage to the North - New Zealand Herald - May 25th, 2022
- Covid-19 update: 17 further deaths, 7800 cases reported in New Zealand - RNZ - May 25th, 2022
- Head of Qualitative Practice be the heartbeat of Qual, Auckland, New Zealand - B&T - May 25th, 2022
- Tall poppy syndrome and 'proudly local': The things Kiwi expats notice about New Zealand that tourists don't - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- Obituary - David Ian Pool: The Father of Aotearoa New Zealand Demography - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- New Zealand battered by machine gun tornado - PerthNow - May 21st, 2022
- 30 years on... The unveiling of a New Zealand sporting great - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022: New Zealand announce 18-strong athletics team - New Zealand Herald - May 21st, 2022
- MMMBop hitmakers Hanson to play one New Zealand show in November - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- New Zealand overtourism: Residents invite tourists to 'tread lightly and leave no trace' - Euronews - May 21st, 2022
- Former New Zealand Women Cricketer Katey Martin Reveals Reason Behind Early Retirement - Cricketnmore - May 21st, 2022
- Special Ukraine visa: Jump in the number of people seeking refuge in NZ - RNZ - May 21st, 2022
- Former lock picker and hacker to represent New Zealand at global cyber security event - Newshub - May 21st, 2022
- We need to spend billions replacing old hospitals - so who should pay? - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- Massive 6.7 magnitude earthquake hits near New Zealand and Australia prompting Tsunami fears... - The US Sun - May 21st, 2022
- Easy ride to mental health - New Zealand News - New Zealand Herald - May 21st, 2022
- Snowfall warnings as severe 'winter blast' bears down on New Zealand - Stuff - May 21st, 2022
- New Zealand's Ardern tests positive for COVID-19 - May 17th, 2022
- New Zealand shooting survivor says violence achieved nothing - NPR - May 17th, 2022
- New Zealand to help pay for cleaner cars to reduce emissions - The Associated Press - May 17th, 2022
- New Zealand banks predict 20% drop in house prices over next year - The Guardian - May 17th, 2022
- Alarmed by Solomon Islands-China pact, New Zealand finds its voice on security - WION - May 17th, 2022
- FIRST READING: Why the world hates Canada for its dairy policy - National Post - May 17th, 2022
- The Russian invasion of Ukraine made everyone nervous, upending trade patterns for exporting countries like New Zealand - The Conversation Indonesia - May 17th, 2022
- Bangladesh to play in T20I tri-series in New Zealand before T20 World Cup - ESPNcricinfo - May 17th, 2022
- Limerick-born 'titan' of New Zealand investment industry dies - The Irish Times - May 17th, 2022
- Will the budget be another missed opportunity to get more New Zealanders out of their cars? - The Conversation Indonesia - May 17th, 2022
- NZ edges towards grim milestone of 1000 Covid deaths. Who and where has it hit hardest? - New Zealand Herald - May 17th, 2022
- New Zealand's Southland District Council Wants Public Input on Its Gambling Policy - Casino.Org News - May 17th, 2022
- New Zealands dairy industry should stop using Mori culture to pretend its sustainable - The Guardian - May 17th, 2022
- Youngsters Potts and Brook in line for first Test call-ups in England's squad to face NZ - iNews - May 17th, 2022
- The rheumatic fever question: Is New Zealand finally tackling the disease or did Covid restrictions cause a brief lull? - New Zealand Herald - May 17th, 2022
- JOLT To Roll Out Free And Fast Electric Vehicle Charging Network To Cities Across New Zealand | Scoop News - Scoop - May 17th, 2022
- What's Streaming This June On Shudder In New Zealand | Scoop News - Scoop - May 17th, 2022
- Ovarian cancer: The least researched and one of the deadliest in New Zealand - Newshub - May 17th, 2022
- Report sparked by Olympians tragic death highlights culture of medals over wellbeing - Fox Sports - May 17th, 2022
- Coronavirus: Modeller believes around half of New Zealand's population has been infected with COVID-19 - Newshub - May 17th, 2022
- Agri-reliant countries must pave way for cutting agriculture emissions, says New Zealand expert - TheJournal.ie - May 17th, 2022
- Sealord plan to close seamounts in New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone - New Zealand Herald - May 17th, 2022
- The problem with New Zealand's protection gap - The Spinoff - May 17th, 2022
- Weather: Storm over Tasmania pushing in cold and blustery winds to New Zealand - New Zealand Herald - May 17th, 2022
- Vodafone New Zealand Disappointed In FibreX Judgment And Intends To Appeal Both Conviction And Fine | Scoop News - Scoop - May 17th, 2022
- James Anderson has 'more to give to the game' as he targets England Test recall - ESPNcricinfo - May 17th, 2022
- New Zealand's growth forecast to stall completely in 2023 - BNZ - RNZ - May 17th, 2022
- New Zealand opens CPTPP dispute with Canada over dairy access - New Zealand Herald - May 17th, 2022
- Jacinda Ardern reminds us why New Zealand should be suspended from the Five Eyes alliance - Washington Examiner - April 22nd, 2022
- Cheesegate 2.0? Air New Zealand to switch up cheese and crackers in Koru Hour - Stuff - April 22nd, 2022
- US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand Issue Advisory on Russian State-Sponsored and Criminal Cyber Threats to Critical Infrastructure - JD Supra - April 22nd, 2022
- New Zealand family erects headstone in shape of iPhone for late daughter - New York Post - April 22nd, 2022
- First 'Carbonzero' Certified Butter set to Hit New Zealand Shelves - Dairy Herd Management - April 22nd, 2022
- New Zealand Rugby appoint more women to board - RNZ - April 22nd, 2022
- 'Allies, not friends': Have NZ and Australia drifted apart? - New Zealand Herald - April 22nd, 2022
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission urges anglers, boaters to help prevent spread of invasive New Zealand mudsnails - WGAL Susquehanna Valley Pa. - April 22nd, 2022
- New Zealand scientists find tremor link that could predict volcanic eruptions - The Guardian - April 22nd, 2022
- Covid-19: Rod Jackson - was New Zealand's response to the pandemic proportionate? - New Zealand Herald - April 22nd, 2022
- NZX50 Index eases 0.3%, Air New Zealand shares and rights soar - Stuff - April 22nd, 2022
- The Front Page podcast: Inside the scandal rocking Arise church - New Zealand Herald - April 22nd, 2022
- Aloha Dance Club to showcase island dances from New Zealand to Hawaii - OSU - The Lantern - April 22nd, 2022
- New Zealand star Dave Letele praises 'amazing' Katie Taylor: 'I think she's great for the sport' - dazn.com - April 22nd, 2022
- M'ohi Nui exhibition explores the Tahitian diaspora in New Zealand - New Zealand Herald - April 22nd, 2022