Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1787 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
is comprised of persons, or has a governing body comprised of persons, a majority of whom are appointed by a Minister or an agency or instrumentality of the Territory;
is subject to control or direction by a Minister ...
The university is not subject to control or direction by a minister. However, the university council is comprised of 22 members, 10 of whom are appointed by the minister. Although not a majority, if you have 10 votes at a meeting of 22 people you certainly do have power to influence. From the perspective of straight numbers, there seems to be no reasonable grounds for the act not to apply to the University of Canberra. Further, as the University of Canberra College is appointed by the university council, if the university was part of this act, then the college would be made part of it as well.
The opposing view held by Roger Dean of the University of Canberra could be summarised that the ACT government money is such a small part of the university's budget that the ACT government should not have the power to make public the contracts for their whole budget and administrative burdens would make it impossible to comply with the act.
I believe that these two conflicting views have not yet been resolved, nor look to be in the near future. Hence, I cannot support the section of this act that resolves this question. I do believe that we need further debate. Hence, I will be opposing parts of clause 4.
In conclusion, this bill is not perfect, and I have highlighted how it is not perfect, but it does have a number of strong points and has taken some points out of my own legislation. Hence, I will be supporting the majority of the bill and I do thank the government for moving forward on this issue.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (8.33), in reply: I thank members. I did not expect to have to go into too much debate with this one. In relation to the question raised by both Mr Smyth and Ms Dundas, I think Ms Dundas answered her own question by informing the place that the University of Canberra is not funded by the ACT government and the ACT government or the ACT does not have a controlling interest.
By virtue of the information put forward by Ms Dundas, I think that it would be inappropriate that the territory would wish to enact legislation in relation to contracts of the university, which is, effectively, funded by the Commonwealth and which has less than a 50 per cent territory participation in its board. I thank Ms Dundas for arguing indirectly against her original argument by informing the place that we do not have a controlling interest. Yes, 10 people on the board do have some influence, but that is not a controlling interest. You would want to have a mightily elastic interpretation to call 10 out of 22 a controlling interest.
There has been some discussion about exactly when contracts should be available on the web or not. I think the Auditor-General said that he thought that they should be available on the web about three years after their expiration. Doing that would cause a certain