Page 2880 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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clause further addresses concerns raised by the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs in relation to trespass on personal rights and amenities.

Clause 6 negatived.

Title agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

University of Canberra Amendment Bill 2005

Debate resumed from 21 June 2005, on motion by Ms Gallagher:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.48): The provisions within the University of Canberra Amendment Bill were first introduced as part of an omnibus statute law amendment. This process, rather than the content of the provisions, caused some controversy and these provisions were withdrawn earlier this year and reintroduced as a freestanding bill. I understand that these provisions are essentially template provisions necessary for all jurisdictions to adopt and they have some implications for commonwealth funding. I also understand that the University of Canberra has perused this bill and that, whilst it had some concerns at the outset, it is now comfortable with the provisions of the bill and keen to have them passed. As I have said, this is essentially template legislation but it ramps up the responsibilities for members of the university councils and imposes more responsibility on them so as to facilitate higher levels of commonwealth funding. The opposition will be supporting the bill.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.49): The ACT Greens will be supporting this bill, which assists the University of Canberra to meet an Australian government benchmark for university funding. Many issues have been raised about university governance over the past few years. An Independent Commission Against Corruption report raised questions about the risk of corruption in universities’ commercial activities; something the commonwealth government at the time was not inclined to take on board.

Since then issues regarding the governance of universities themselves have come up fairly often around Australia, although with varying degrees of justification. In 2001, the National Tertiary Education Union passed a resolution on intellectual freedom in university governance. It argued that good representative governance was essential to support the intellectual freedom that universities have a responsibility to uphold. It is probably not surprising that those concerns are not at the heart of the commonwealth government’s national governance protocols that lay out the benchmarks for additional funding and have driven this bill. They are focused more on corporate responsibility.

Of particular interest here is the requirement for a university to establish policy and procedural principles consistent with legal requirements and community expectations and to build in accountability requirements and sanctions when the duties are breached. There is a financial benefit to the university once this legislation is passed, so I am doubly pleased to support it on behalf of the ACT Greens.

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