Of all the questions in the Queensland University section 18C debacle, the one that hasn’t been properly asked is who funded this lady and allowed her to cause so much carnage?
The students concerned were put through hell in trying to defend themselves, with some bailing out and paying the nominated $5,000 ransom to make the problem go away – simply because they could not afford to carry on and defend their good names.
However, what makes no sense whatsoever is how a university ‘administrative officer’ could afford to bring proceedings in the Federal Court at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. I say only ‘tens of thousands’ because the case was summarily and mercifully dismissed by Judge Jarrett in a 34 page decision without trial – on the basis that Ms Prior’s claim had no reasonable prospect of success if it went to trial (see paragraph 82).
Just stop and think about that for a minute: the case was nowhere near trial, yet it had already managed to drag on for three and a half years (of which a little bit over a year had been taken up in the Federal Court) at significant cost and stress to the respondents. Just imagine if it had been allowed to proceed to trial.
So who funded her? Was it the HRC? Was it some other entity funded by taxpayers? A white knight? Or are we to really believe that this receptionist had a cool half million or so just lying around with nothing better to spend it on than this delightful little jaunt? (I say ‘half million’ because she was obviously prepared to take the matter to trial against the three remaining respondents).
And if the students who ‘won’ the case are successful in obtaining a costs order against Ms Prior, who pays the bill?
If taxpayer money has been funneled into this utterly baseless claim and given it a life it never deserved, then the public has a right to know.
Is there a journalist out there willing to take this up?