Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 March 2015) . . Page.. 1096 ..
came up with the answer that presumably the government wanted. Why else would you have a six-month-long inquiry involving 30 people and submissions from over 80 organisations, have no discussion on its recommendations, form a council to give every appearance of meeting at least one of their recommendations and then present the council with the fait accompli, a merger?
Professor Bradley’s report advised that the status quo was not an option for CIT and UC as both would need to change and to develop to reflect reforms in tertiary education nationally and in the globally competitive market. Professor Bradley recommended that the ACT either amalgamate the two institutions into one dual-sector institution or alternatively establish the CIT as a body with greater autonomy to allow it to better compete in the emerging tertiary market. The government considered the options recommended by Professor Bradley and formed yet another steering group to advise government on the Bradley options. It was strongly believed among CIT, the University of Canberra and the tertiary sector, including the unions, that the government’s clear preference was that CIT be taken over by—sorry, merged with—the University of Canberra. CIT was not in favour of it but obviously the University of Canberra was.
The government proposed initially to explore what they called the middle ground and announced a notionally collaborative venture between UC and CIT, referred to as UCIT. This proposed collaborative direction was designed to provide a pathway to full amalgamation. As they say, the rest is history. It is only four years later that CIT has moved to establish a board, albeit with some limitations as to independence and freedom from ministerial direction.
Of course, we now know that while all that attention on mergers and the future of CIT was proceeding, a growing tsunami of complaints about bullying, about inappropriate appointments and about unqualified teachers was starting to emerge. Perhaps the task force, the council and the Bradley review were all designed to deflect from the real issues that CIT was facing. It was not financial problems that beset CIT; it was HR problems.
That continues to today, having been consistently and repeatedly ignored and avoided by successive education ministers. Only one education minister, Dr Bourke, had the decency and the courage to have the matters examined. After damning reports from the WorkSafe Commissioner, Mark McCabe, he placed an improvement notice on CIT and forced the CIT management to look at matters that they and the government had deliberately ignored for years—possibly a decade.
They brought many of the issues to light and the Commissioner for Public Administration was called in to examine and make recommendations. He did not find any allegations proven, but a February 2015 Administrative Appeals Tribunal hearing did, and how many more aggrieved staff will take that appeal route is yet to be determined. There are still questions about inappropriate management training coming to light even this year. There are still questions about incomplete courses. There are still allegations of bullying. And to date there are still no answers from the current minister.