Page 1960 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 14 May 2013

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We have seen some recent controversies in the higher education sector here in the ACT, including one of our Green candidates using the Australian National University as a recruitment tool. It is one thing to be recruiting on campus; it is another thing to go in as a guest lecturer and be recruiting for your campaign, as it appears Simon Sheikh was doing. We saw a number of students complaining about that. One said, “I don’t pay to go to university for politicians to ask me to join their political campaigns. Outraged and appalled.”

Mr Rattenbury: That’s it; take up your campaign in the Assembly, under privilege.

MR SESELJA: He is very sensitive on this. Another said, “Disgraceful that Simon Sheikh was allowed to campaign as a guest lecturer today at the ANU.”And another said, “Interesting ideas by Simon Sheikh, but the campaign volunteer sheets were inappropriate, cheap and opportunistic.”

The importance of this particular issue is that it did not reflect well on the ANU that they allowed this to go on. I think it is important that our public tertiary institutions make sure that they avoid this kind of thing. I think that the negative publicity that the ANU received as a result of what the Greens candidate acknowledged was an error, or that he had done the wrong thing at least in part, could have been avoided if the Greens had shown a little more respect for the Australian National University and not seen it as their personal place where they can recruit people for their campaign.

I will finish where I started. We have a wonderful tertiary education sector in the ACT. It is one of which we can be very proud. It is not just the ANU and UC; as I mentioned, we have a number of other tertiary education institutions.

I make brief mention of one of the Canberra Liberals’ policies from the last election, which was to partner with the Australian Catholic University to build a practical health training facility. We announced that we would partner with ACU to establish a state-of-the-art health paramedic learning facility for Canberra’s health workforce. A Canberra Liberals government would have provided $2 million to refurbish existing space at the Australian Catholic University for a simulation-based training facility. This would have included human patient simulators and state-of-the-art recording and feedback systems to provide reflective learning through video playback. In announcing this policy I said:

There’s a shortage of paramedic training facilities in Canberra, due to the significant growth in enrolments in health courses. Our plan will get more health professionals in the workforce where they’re desperately needed.

I think it is important that we look to establish these kinds of partnerships. Where there are sensible partnerships for the ACT government to make with our tertiary sector, we do welcome them and we have in the past supported them where we see the government going in the right direction. But I would commend that one in terms of paramedic training.

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