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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 3 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 966..


MR SPEAKER (continuing):

Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, I have determined that the matter proposed by Mr Mulcahy be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The management of the University of Canberra.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (3.26): The University of Canberra is, of course, a statutory body created by this Assembly under the University of Canberra Act of 1989. It is managed by a council of 15 members, including the chancellor, the vice-chancellor, the chairman of the university board, eight members appointed by the Chief Minister and four members from the staff and the student body of the university.

It is the responsibility of the government to oversee this body and ensure that it is properly managing the university. The proper management of the university includes not only the management of academic work and standards but also the management of administrative and financial matters. When we think of the management of a university, we naturally think of the formulation of degree programs, research projects and academic standards. We think about issues relating to students and researchers. However, no academic research and teaching organisation, whether a commercial body or otherwise, can function without sound financial management and an ongoing financial viability.

As the former shadow Treasurer of this territory, I have a keen interest in such financial matters and, as I have mentioned before, holding an adjunct professorship at another university I have not only an interest in financial matters but also some degree of interest and knowledge of management of tertiary institutions. This interest has not subsided and I intend to continue to put forth my views on the financial management of this territory.

In this case, it appears that the financial problems, which I will shortly discuss, were unknown to both the current shadow Treasurer and shadow minister for education, and they are not here today while we discuss this education issue, so I am happy to step in and hold the government to account on this issue and take up that responsibility as a member of the crossbench.

Mrs Burke interjecting—

MR MULCAHY: Mrs Burke can be critical but we are discussing an education issue and I am surprised that those responsible for education financial management in the opposition are not in the chamber to talk about it.

Late last year my office conducted a detailed financial analysis of the university from its published financial statements and this demonstrated to me that there were some serious problems with the financial state of the university. The low magnitude of the surpluses of the university, in comparison to its large expenses, demonstrated that the university had been operating on a knife edge. It now appears, in fact, that the university has incurred a large deficit.

I did not move hastily on this matter because I wanted to be sure of all of my facts and take the perspective of the institution, to be fair, because these things are likely to cause some fair level of public interest and had the potential to cause some disquiet


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