Page 1031 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 24 March 2015

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University of Canberra—development

MS FITZHARRIS: My question is to the Chief Minister and Minister for Economic Development. Chief Minister, can you provide the Assembly with details of the groundbreaking agreement recently signed with the University of Canberra?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Fitzharris for the question and note the undoubted interest of those opposite in higher education. I am very pleased to be able to advise that earlier this month I joined with the vice-chancellor, Stephen Parker, to sign an agreement of strategic intent to foster the growth and development of the University of Canberra.

The ACT government has a shared vision with the university where we seek to enhance the university’s international reputation for providing high quality student experiences, and ensure that the university is financially sustainable and resilient over the long term and that it makes an even stronger contribution to the Canberra economy.

I have talked at length about Canberra becoming the true knowledge capital. Through this agreement with the University of Canberra, we are turning these words and these desires into action. This is a concrete step towards fostering growth and, through this growth, improving educational and career opportunities for students, attracting world-leading researchers to the University of Canberra and encouraging commercialisation of research discoveries.

The university must be able to unlock the potential of its campus and it must be able to develop revenue streams beyond federal government payments. Investment in the University of Canberra campus will create job opportunities in Canberra in the construction sector and in the long term will attract highly skilled researchers and professionals and create a series of administrative positions. New facilities and services will benefit students and staff as well as provide direct community health benefits through the new teaching hospital.

Overall, a thriving, vibrant and dynamic campus is good for all of Belconnen and it is good for Canberra. A key part of the agreement, therefore, is confirmation that this government will bring forward a range of legislative reforms to allow the university to more actively create and pursue commercial opportunities; to facilitate complementary development on the 120-hectare campus, including residential development to house the many people who want to live near their workplaces in the new hospital, health and innovation precincts; to improve and expand the purpose of the university to provide wider services to the community and to engage more strongly in public discourse; and to modernise its governance arrangements.

Importantly, the agreement also sets out a range of clear boundaries for the university in relation to campus development. This includes placing an overall limit on the number of non-student residential dwellings of 3,300, as well as an annual cap of around 200 on the number being offered for sale in any given year.

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