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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 March 2015) . . Page.. 1023 ..

organised. The briefing took place yesterday. It is extremely unfortunate that such insignificant time for the opposition to properly scrutinise this bill was given. If the government believes this bill is so important for the future of the University of Canberra, and indeed Canberra as a whole, surely it could have provided a briefing to the opposition before yesterday.

The opposition have serious concerns about the planning provisions included in this bill. We are concerned about the way the government has tried to ram them through the Assembly without proper scrutiny. We are also concerned about the consequences of the broad powers the bill gives to the University of Canberra. For this reason, the Canberra Liberals will be opposing the planning aspects of the bill.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (12.18): The bill before us today effectively creates a greater range of economic opportunities for the University of Canberra, broadening its revenue base and reducing its future dependence on government funding and support. It is designed to “set them free” in many regards and is mostly driven by a general consensus view that the higher education sector is changing too rapidly to sit still or take a gently, gently approach. We need to take bold action now to prepare for the continuing slings and arrows of political fortune as the Abbott federal government and the minister for education, Christopher Pyne, wildly throw university funding around like a plaything.

All of the issues raised in the bill, and the public debate around higher education, unfortunately lead directly to a frankly shambolic federal government. The recent performance of the federal education minister in seeking to use the jobs and livelihoods of scientific researchers as a threat against the Senate’s vote on the deregulation of universities was a new low in this debate. It is high time the debate gets reset and a more steady and sensible policy agenda is produced.

The ACT Greens are broadly supportive of both the current vice-chancellor’s vision for the University of Canberra and the legislation before us. I will be supporting the bill as it stands, but I would also like to put on the record that we will continue to watch with interest the subsequent legislation, developments and changes this brings. The education sector’s role in the social and economic life of Canberra is too important to just “set and forget”. I believe the Assembly needs to maintain a close relationship with students, stakeholders and the community over the coming months and years so that we can closely monitor the implications of this legislation and also the subsequent legislation that will follow behind it.

Let me turn to some of the specific clauses in the bill.

Clause 4 of the amendment broadens the scope of the UC legislated functions in section 6 of the existing act to allow for the development and provision of cultural, sporting, professional, technical and vocational services to the community, and to participate in public discourse.

Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the need to be so clear in regard to that last part. In recent weeks, we have had some deeply concerning reports in the media of remarks made by members of the federal government to academics of the

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