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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3009..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

A number of general principles underpinned the Bill. These were: There will be no additional cost to the ACT; the university will retain its autonomy; legal continuity of the university will be preserved; staff employment conditions of university staff will continue; and there will be no additional cost to the university. The Bill includes a set of values and principles. These fulfil a similar purpose to those in the Public Sector Management Act. They include service to the scholarship and education of Australian people; fairness and integrity; efficiency and effectiveness; and accountability for the university performance.

The university will continue to be accountable to the Government and the community. Where Commonwealth procedures parallel Territory practice, they have been retained. This ensures both major universities in the ACT are accountable along similar lines. The Government will maintain a close association with the university. The Chief Minister will appoint 10 of the 22 members of the council. This will give the Territory substantial input into the affairs of the university. All university statutes will be tabled in the Assembly. Executive and Assembly will have the power to disallow legislative statutes that determine or alter existing law. The university has undertaken to establish whistleblowing provisions by statute. The Assembly will be able to examine these statutes and ensure they comply with government objectives on public interest disclosure.

In setting annual reporting and auditing guidelines, Commonwealth and Territory requirements have been taken into account. The university will continue to report on a calendar year basis. Financial statements will be submitted to the Auditor-General within two months of calendar year end. The annual report will be tabled in the Assembly within four months of the calendar year end. The Auditor-General will audit all financial matters and report any irregularities to the Minister. The university power to borrow will be subject to the Treasurer's approval. This will also be the case with some investments. The university investment powers are similar to those of the Canberra Institute of Technology.

The university will be able to form or participate in a company or joint venture. Company or joint venture objectives must be consistent with the objectives of the university. Where the university has a controlling interest, council must authorise all changes to company memorandum or articles of association, the Treasurer must receive copies of documents lodged with the Securities Commission, company and joint venture operations and financial statements must be summarised in annual reports and the Auditor-General will inspect and audit financial accounts and records under the Audit Act. Controlling interest has been defined as in commercial practice. It involves control of the board of directors, control of casting votes or ownership of 50 per cent or more of issued share capital.

The university will be liable for Territory taxation, unless exempt under specific laws. The university has taken this opportunity to change aspects of its operations. The office of deputy chancellor has been created with a seat on the council. The deputy chancellor will deputise for the chancellor when the chancellor is absent. The title of vice-chancellor will be augmented to include that of president. The vice-chancellor will use the title of president when conducting business overseas. This approach is being adopted by other Australian universities.


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