Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 3969..
MR BARR (continuing):
The national governance protocols for higher education providers prescribe that Australian universities must reduce the size of their governing bodies, limit the number of elected members and ensure that external members of the governing body are in the majority. Similar recommendations were made by an independent review of the governance structures of the University of Canberra Council commissioned by the Chief Minister in 2005. The review also identified a smaller governing body as best practice.
This new university council of 15 members will include university staff, students, community and business representation. It will have three ex-officio members, two elected staff members and two elected student members. Its independence will be assured by the majority of eight independent external members appointed by the Chief Minister.
The amendment specifies the skills mix and experience the Chief Minister's appointments must have to successfully govern a commercially viable institution. They will collectively have skills in finance, management, commerce, law or teaching and will complement the skills and experience of the seven ex-officio and elected positions on council.
New appointments will be for a three-year term, which can be extended for no more than a total of nine years. Some of these appointments will be staggered to allow for continuity of experience and skill. The Chief Ministerial appointments will be made as soon as practicable, given the requirement that they be made according to cabinet appointment processes. The Chief Minister's appointments are subject to consultation with the Standing Committee on Education, Training and Young People.
The amendments will take effect the day after notification. However, we have discussed with the university the need for transition arrangements from the old to the new council. I anticipate that the new council will be operating early in the 2007 academic year. In the meantime, section 94 of the Legislation Act 2001 provides for existing appointments on council to continue, allowing it to operate satisfactorily until the new arrangements are in place.
The Government Solicitor has confirmed that the proposed changes to the University of Canberra Council, including the fact that the council has a majority of external members, will not alter the legal status of the university, which will continue to be a body corporate established under an enactment. The university's obligations under the Financial Management Act 1996, the commonwealth Corporations Act 2001 and all accounting standards will not be affected by the proposed changes.
The amendment proposes for the first time that external, independent members be paid at a rate determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, with costs met by the university. This is appropriate because with a smaller council, members will have increased governance responsibilities, including attending the regular council and sub-committee meetings. Members will be offered professional development and training, for example, through the university governance professional development program, to support their important role. Payment of external members also signals to