Page 982 - Week 03 - Thursday, 3 April 2008

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does Professor Parker and the University of Canberra a huge disservice to imply, as the minister did, his level of involvement. The appointment of the vice-chancellor is not a job for the minister; it is a job for the council. The imputation he made on two occasions yesterday detracts from the status of the vice-chancellor. The vice-chancellor deserves an apology because of the imputation that was made yesterday.

The minister for education made it very clear yesterday that he had an abiding interest in the administration of the University of Canberra. I wonder whether it is more than just his ministerial interest. It is of use to note that a former staff member of his office who had previously been associated with the University of Canberra came to work in the minister’s office, then left, and has gone back to the University of Canberra. I do not know whether he is considered to be in some way a mole in the system. He may have a lot to answer for.

I also thought it was interesting to note in passing one of the more outrageous comments made in Mr Mulcahy’s speech when he claimed that in this town he was the only critic of the establishment of the Australian International Hotel School.

Mr Barr: You were a critic too, were you?

MRS DUNNE: No, I was not, because I was not around at the time. I thought it was a big ask and I thought it was a big play, because I am very aware that my former colleague Mr Cornwell, who was the shadow minister for education at the time of Mr Wood’s announcement of the Australian International Hotel School, was quite critical of that.

Mr Barr: Publicly?

MRS DUNNE: Yes, he was publicly. I will also put on the record my recollection, without being able to check consistently, that there was considerable public opposition from the then opposition—the Liberal opposition led by Mrs Carnell—and that that was longstanding. It was unfortunate that it took so long for the whole process to be wound up. It took until well into the treasurer-ship of Mr Quinlan before the whole thing was eventually concluded. It should have been concluded before that. It was a sorry episode in the ACT. But it is a big ask for Mr Mulcahy to claim that he was the only person who was prescient enough to see that this was a mistake.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (4.25): I want to correct on the public record something Mr Mulcahy said which was quite stupid. I was a member of the council—and very proud to be a member of that council too. I was there in Don Aitkin’s time. Hopefully, people will read Hansard, because no doubt Mr Mulcahy will be delivering—as he always does—a copy of this for people to read. I just want the public record to note this: as if I would tell Mr Mulcahy anything at all about the discussions we had on council at that time—or in fact any other time! I just wanted to put that on the public record. For Mr Mulcahy to even suggest that I might be able to tell him details about what happened in the discussions of a council meeting is somewhat strange coming from a man who seems to know everything there is to know about corporate life, counselling and so on.

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