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Motion: Joint Committee on the Establishment of Adelaide University

 

1. That in the opinion of this house, a joint committee be appointed to inquire into and report on the establishment of Adelaide University, and in so doing consider—

(a) the proposal to create Adelaide University, to be formed by the amalgamation of the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia;

(b) the expected impact (including non-commercially confidential modelling generated by the existing universities) of the new university, on:

(i) the South Australian economy and society;

(ii) current and future staff and students of the two existing universities; and

(iii) the higher education sector in South Australia.

(c) ensuring Adelaide University's legislative, governance and funding arrangements provide for a university that:

(i) facilitates access to education by South Australians from a broad range of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, including Aboriginal South Australians;

(ii) is engaged with industry and business in South Australia on research and education outcomes;

(iii) generates high quality research and engages in commercialisation of research of strategic importance to South Australia;

(iv) is likely to be consistently highly ranked against universities globally;

(v) is attractive to and welcoming of international students; and

(vi) has a modern governance framework consistent with high standards of fiduciary responsibility and understanding of the value of universities to the state's economy and society and of the Australian and global higher education environment.

(d) any measures by which the parliament and government can facilitate these outcomes in creating the Adelaide University; and

(e) any other related matter.

2. That in the event of a joint committee being appointed, it report on 17 October 2023, and the House of Assembly shall be represented thereon by four members, of whom three shall form a quorum of assembly members necessary to be present at all sittings of the committee.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:08): I rise briefly, not as the portfolio holder but as somebody who has actually been impacted previously by mergers of institutions—in this case, the University of South Australia and my campus of Salisbury, which no longer exists.

I am concerned that in these terms of reference there are no guarantees for Whyalla, Mount Gambier, Roseworthy or Waite. Where was the minister for regional development in that discussion of these terms of reference, I ask? These terms of reference have now landed on our desks today with no prior warning other than a debate in the other place just before lunchtime that went for mere minutes. This is disappointing. This is not a way to run a parliament. I hope it is not going to be indicative of the seriousness with which the government should be taking this quite important and profound move.

I also ask why specifically teaching—not education, not research, but teaching—has not been addressed in the terms of reference. I hope that is simply an oversight and will be corrected by the committee itself. I note that the campuses of Underdale and Salisbury no longer exist and that is to the detriment of the communities they served and the constituencies. As a Salisbury campus student—it was how I was politicised—I became active as a result of the experience of studying at a small campus in a working-class area as a young mother of two children, where there was a childcare centre on campus, where it was close to supports, where it was easy to do that without additional access to wealth.

The promises that were made with that amalgamation were never kept. Mawson Lakes did not have the same culture; Magill did not have the same access. The administration for those students who were starting their courses at Salisbury was not continued to the end. Many promises were broken. I hope that will not be the case this time, and I think that guarantees should be sought on those matters.

I also note there is a no forced redundancy promise, but it only lasts for one round. What happens after that first round we need answers to from this committee. I am certainly very happy to hear that the Premier believes that staff and students have been well consulted so far. That is not the feedback I have had, certainly from the NTEU on this matter. They do not feel that the process the Premier is so seemingly assured has occurred has occurred, so I am sure this will be a good tool for that.

We will be debating whether this committee runs for three or four months. I find that extraordinary in itself. This is a massive enterprise, this is a massive once-in-a-generation (to use the Premier's words) initiative. For something that is once in a generation, surely this parliament should be doing it in a way that we consult properly and collaboratively and work altogether to make sure the state is served by what are public institutions. They are not the Premier's institutions, they are not the vice-chancellor's institutions, they are public South Australian institutions that belong, really, to the public of South Australia.

I am happy to serve on the committee for a short period to ensure that the Greens are represented within this role, noting that my colleague will be away for a few weeks, so we certainly will not be holding up those processes in that way, but I note that it is our intention that we will replace my membership on the committee with the Hon. Rob Simms at the first opportunity on the return of parliament.

I am saddened that this has been the process to get us to this point. I hark back to the bad old days of declare and defend and note that when former Premier Jay Weatherill came to power he himself said that those days were over and that it would be deliberate and decide going forward. I urge the Malinauskas government to deliberate and decide, not end up declaring and defending and not treating this parliament, this upper house, with the contempt they have shown today.

 

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