The "extraordinary, misleading, ideological and shrill campaign" that prevented Mark Vaile from becoming the University of Newcastle's next chancellor was an example of the rise of 'new McCarthyism', Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon has told Federal Parliament.
Mr Vaile, who was appointed to the role on June 4, walked away from the position on Monday afternoon following a concerted campaign that focused on his links to the fossil fuel industry.
In the wake the unprecedented events, the university's council announced on Tuesday that incumbent chancellor Paul Jeans would remain in the role.
Those seeking to prevent the former deputy prime minister from becoming chancellor argued his role as chairman of Whitehaven Coal was incompatible with the university's progressive sustainability agenda.
Mr Fitzgibbon, who publicly supported the former National Party leader's appointment , told the parliament that he feared "excessive progressives" would employ similar tactics to target those with links to other industries which they opposed.
"During the Cold War people found themselves blacklisted on suspicion they were supporters of - or sympathised with - the Communist Party. Suffice to say, many on the blacklists appeared without cause and suffered greatly as a result. Many lost their jobs or were discriminated against in the workplace," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
"In Australia today, the blacklist is not so shadowy. Mark Vaile's listing has been very public. The crime he has been publicly shamed for is his association with the coal industry. It's a slippery slope.
"Today the excessive progressives target those associated with the coal industry. No doubt tomorrow it will be anyone associated with the oil, gas, and fuel refining industries. What's next? The meat processing industry? The steel manufacturing sector?"
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Mr Fitzgibbon said investment in low-carbon technologies was growing exponentially.
This investment, he said, was largely being led by corporations associated with traditional energy industries such as coal, oil and gas.
In addition to Whitehaven Coal, Mr Vaile is also the Independent chair of Palisade Investments, which has a $1 billion worth of wind and solar technologies under management.
"Imagine if we argued that the chair of BHP - a coal and steel company now heavily investing in low carbon technologies - should be excluded from any involvement in local institutions which have ambitions for a lower-carbon economy? That would be massively counter-productive," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
Mr Jeans, who has already served two terms as chancellor, was due to retire on June 30.
"I am committed to leading the University of Newcastle to ensure continuity and to maintain the strong momentum in the execution of our strategic plan "Looking Ahead"," Mr Jeans said following Tuesday's university council meeting.
"I look forward to working with our communities, in particular our staff and students, to take our University forward."
Clarification has been sought regarding how long Mr Jeans will serve in the role. He said on Monday that he would continue in the role until a new chancellor had been appointed.