Page 2881 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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The linking of a funding formula with governance requirements is understandable in this context. It reminds us, however, that the commonwealth government is taking a similar approach in its insistence on universities offering AWAs to new employees. It also ran a few unusual projects linking a lot of education money to pictures of Simpson and his donkey, and on the insistence of operating flagpoles. I am sure that Ms Gallagher could list a range of instances where commonwealth interference in state education systems is not so welcome. However, in this instance the requirements of the commonwealth are not so onerous for the University of Canberra and, indeed, may enhance its accountability, its procedures, and other aspects of governance.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.52), in reply: I thank members for their contributions. The bill amends the University of Canberra Act 1989. The amendments made by the bill embed national governance protocols agreed to in late 2003 by universities and Australian ministers with responsibility for higher education. This bill will ensure that our university benefits from a robust governance framework, in keeping with the national and international trend for corporate entities to embrace best practice governance.

The bill is identical to the amendments that were first put forward as part of the government’s Statute Law Amendment Bill 2005, also known as the SLAB, which Mrs Dunne referred to earlier in the debate. Appropriate agencies were consulted earlier this year as part of the SLAB process. Following the advice of the legislative steering committee in late March this year, I agreed to submit the amendment to this Assembly as a separate bill, because I support the national governance protocols, and the ACT government wants the university to be able to access the extra funding that flows from adopting them.

As I pointed out when this bill was introduced, it does not change the number of university council members, or the composition of the membership. The range of university stakeholders currently provided for in the act remains, and comprises the university executive, a person elected by graduates of the university, three members of the academic staff elected by members of that staff, a member of the general staff elected by members of that staff, two students of the university elected by students from the university, and up to 10 persons appointed by the Chief Minister.

The amendments specify the duties of the university council members consistent with the national governance protocols, including providing for sanctions when duties are breached; amending the protections to be available to members, consistent with the Corporations Act; further quantifying the circumstances in which members must vacate their office to include disqualification as a company director under the Corporations Act; amending the manner in which the deputy chancellor is appointed to the council, because the protocols specify which positions are appointed by virtue of office; and limiting the maximum term of council members to 12 years.

I will be moving a minor amendment to clause 9, and I will speak to that when we come to it in the detail stage. This bill will provide an improved governance framework that protects the interests of students and staff at the University of Canberra. The bill will ensure all council members continue to work for the good of the university. I thank

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