Page 3953 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 25 November 2014

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Canberra Institute of Technology Amendment Bill 2014

Debate resumed from 30 October 2014, on motion by Ms Burch:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (11.26): It is no over-dramatisation to say that the CIT has had a somewhat turbulent few years, even if we put aside the ongoing bullying allegations—allegations that have not gone away, no matter how much the two previous ministers for education and now Minister Burch might wish it to be so. The internal management and fiscal future of the CIT have been an ongoing concern for the CIT executive team.

The genesis of this legislation was in 2010, when the then minister for education, Mr Barr, formed a task force to consult with stakeholders over the future of tertiary education delivery in the ACT. One of the 12 recommendations of that task force was for the University of Canberra and CIT to investigate new ways to collaborate. The government engaged Professor Denise Bradley and, notwithstanding the short time frame she was given and the very narrow inquiry parameters, she produced a report in August 2011 that said a number of things about the two tertiary institutions in the ACT, and particularly the financial position of CIT in the years ahead.

Of particular significance was Professor Bradley’s statement that the status quo was not an option for CIT and that it needed to either merge with the University of Canberra or establish itself as a body with greater autonomy to allow it to better compete in the emerging tertiary market. The merger option was hotly contested and argued and the government let the matter lie.

Now we have moved forward three years, and, lo and behold, the government has decided to listen to Professor Bradley and take her advice that CIT should become more autonomous. Interestingly, this bill and changes to governance structures at CIT come at the very same time as the government has done quite the opposite in the case of EPIC, which Mr Smyth has covered in quite a bit of detail this morning. We certainly hope that CIT’s new arrangements do not have a similar fate.

Returning to the bill at hand, the minister outlined in her speech when introducing the bill that there have been many changes that have taken place in reforming the TAFE sector. The ACT government, in committing to the national partnership agreement on skills reform, agreed to support CIT to continue to thrive in a more competitive market.

The explanatory statement sets out the major amendments as the establishment of a governing board replacing the existing CIT Advisory Council, an independent chair and deputy with extensive contemporary expertise and knowledge of industry and business, and the establishment of a CEO appointed by the governing board to replace the current director of the institute position.

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