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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 September 2015) . . Page.. 3347 ..

I think also that the recent work of the University of Canberra, with its focus on greater integration with the Canberra identity and its quest to expand its on-campus offer of an educated life, is a positive example of the matter we are discussing today in the debate brought forward by Dr Bourke. The University of Canberra’s recognition of the powerful branding and academic possibilities of partnering with the Brumbies and the Capitals, its focus on sports research and its ongoing commitment to reconciliation and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are all clear illustrations of how it has truly become Canberra’s university. The recent master plan process and associated legislative changes we have debated over the past year or so are also good examples of how to sit down with government, develop a plan and work with all stakeholders to achieve new educational goals and campus aspirations.

It has in large part been Professor Parker’s openness and willingness to meet with interested parties—and I have certainly taken that offer up—that has seen his vision progress, and I trust that this relationship will continue beyond his tenure as the University of Canberra continues to mature. That strong relationship between the university and the ACT government is very important, and whoever takes up the chair next will have, I hope, as one of their key priorities to continue to strengthen both the university and its role in the broader Canberra community.

As we know, we have also had a change of government federally, albeit without an election, and now a new federal education minister in the Hon. Simon Birmingham. I am sure that there will be many in the higher education sector, and indeed in the state and territory governments around Australia, who will be looking to the new minister for a much closer and more consistent relationship. Time will tell but it is about time we had clarity and equity in policy and funding from the federal government. The policy proposals we have seen in recent times I think have done no good to the Australian university sector, where we have seen considerable debate, considerable back and forth in the Senate, and therefore a considerable level of uncertainty.

This is not the future we need for Australia’s tertiary education sector. We need stability, we need a forward vision, and we need to get an agreed way forward for our tertiary sector, both for the benefit of the many students in Australia who are capable of building the future of this country but also for the many international students we host for both their contribution to Australia but also to their home countries.

I thank Dr Bourke for bringing this motion forward today. I do not intend to focus on some of the issues that he has already touched on but I think that it is valuable for the Assembly to reflect on these matters today.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (4.26): I, too, thank Dr Bourke for bringing this matter of public importance before the Assembly this afternoon because it is a good time to be talking about the need for governments to be working closely with the higher education sector.

The ACT government’s focus has always been on building a close and cooperative relationship with our higher education institutions. We want to work with them to

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