‘Impartial’ UNSW researcher joins political stoush – offers himself to media as expert

The University of New South Wales researcher recently funded to conduct a three-year study of “abuse culture and bullying in the military”, has offered himself as an expert media commentator to counter a hot issue that blew up in political circles yesterday.

In an official UNSW press release this afternoon, James Connor accused two elected Federal politicians of espousing ‘anachronistic dinosaur views’.

UNSW Canberra researcher Dr Connor said, “Unfortunately, these comments [made by Federal MP Andrew Hastie and Senator Cory Bernadi] just embolden the small subset of currently serving ADF members who have failed to heed former Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison’s call to adapt and accept diversity or ‘get out’,” Dr Connor said.

Dr Connor was recently paid to conduct a three-year study of ‘abuse culture and bullying in the military’, and was accused by CONTACT of declaring the root cause of the issue before his study started.

The vast majority of CONTACT fans who commented on Facebook agreed with our assessment.


FOR CLARITY: CONTACT fully supports the right of capable women to serve in the ADF including in combat roles. We have seen female infantry soldiers on exercise, interviewed a female tank commander covered in axle grease and field dust, and photographed (and seen countless other photos of) females on patrol on the ‘front lines’ in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we have spoken to their male colleagues, commanders and subordinates – none of whom had an issue working with or for a female.
What we have a problem with in this instance is should-be-impartial researchers first declaring the root cause of an issue before embarking on a three-year study of said issue – and then coming out publicly, forcefully, in official capacity, using employer resources to join a heated political debate, using less than academic or impartial language to shoot down and condemn contrary views to his own.



Dr Connor said [and CONTACT agrees] women in combat roles had improved the operational effectiveness of the ADF.

“Our experience in Afghanistan has categorically demonstrated the value of women on patrol.

“There is no question that women have improved our ability to fight wars.

“Claiming that women will reduce the combat effectiveness of frontline units is an appalling slur on the currently serving brave women of the ADF, many of whom put their life on the line every day, just like the men.

“Diversity is good for the organisation and the units within it.

“The ADF has had a historical problem with abuse and discrimination, largely stemming from the toxic tribal masculinity that it operated within.

“Getting a more diverse force will reduce the likelihood of abuse and discrimination.”

Dr Connor says comments, such as those made by Federal MP Andrew Hastie and Senator Cory Bernadi, were damaging.

“Having people in extremely important positions of power – members of parliament – coming out and saying that women should not be in the ADF and should not be in combat roles is very problematic.

“It directly contradicts the stated position of the ADF and emboldens those regressive, troglodyte elements who still think women are somehow inferior and don’t belong in our military.

“It’s wonderful that we saw Defence Minister Marise Payne come out and forcefully defend the role of women in the military, but we need to go much further than that.

“I’d like to see the experiences and value of women in frontline roles celebrated by the ADF publicly.

“Let’s get that message out loud and clear – everyone is welcome to serve, regardless of gender if they have what it takes.”

The official University of New South Wales statement that was sent this afternoon to Australian media outlets said, “James Connor is available for expert commentary on diversity in the military”.


CONTACT welcomes comments and opinions from either side of this debate – but only if they are expressed in civil language. Insulting, defamatory or crude comments will be deleted.


FILE PHOTO unrelated to the story: Soldiers from the Tactical Assault Group East at the special-forces training centre in Holsworthy. Photo by Corporal Chris Moore.








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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

2 thoughts on “‘Impartial’ UNSW researcher joins political stoush – offers himself to media as expert

  • 29/12/2019 at 11:29 am

    This is Hastie’s quote from Sky News: “Fighting DNA of a close combat unit is best preserved when it’s exclusively male”.

    “The West Australian MP argued the selection courses for combat roles are rigorous, and the work “incredibly exacting”, but emphasised this was his personal opinion.”

    Let’s be clear about this. Hastie was not arguing against women in the ADF.

    The ‘independent researcher’ has nailed his colours to the mast, so we know what the results of his study will be.

    I served as an Infantry soldier in Vietnam. I agree with Hastie. I would not have wanted women patrolling with me in the jungles of Vietnam and this is why.
    1) Most women could not handle the physical workload, this puts more workload on the rest of the men in the section.
    2) The enemy would target women because the male psyche is to protect women, this may cause section members to take unnecessary risks and put whole sub unit at risk.
    3) Once the public starts to see women’s body bags mounting up they will soon change their tune.

    However modern warfare is a lot different from what I experienced in the jungle, so I am open to other views. For example, in the Middle East, ISIS are terrified of being killed by a woman, so I can understand that a platoon of women would have the jihadists RUNNING FOR THEIR LIVES!

    I’d like to see that.

    In summary this is a typical straw man argument whereby the ‘independent researcher’ gives the illusion of refuting Hastie’s opinion by replacing it with something he didn’t actually say.

    This story displays the deterioration in professional standards in research and journalism.

  • 08/02/2018 at 12:01 am

    I agree it’s out of line to accuse pollies of having ‘anachronistic dinosaur views’. The rest of his comments seem fair though.
    Personal views need to be separated from professional ones.


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