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University of Tasmania - Public Confidence

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Tags: UTAS, Education


In the last sitting we asked what you as Premier and your Government would do to help restore public confidence in a university which has cut courses and moved lectures almost entirely online, gutted the Law School, failed to negotiate in good faith with staff and until it pulled its DA for the Sandy Bay campus following locals overwhelmingly rejecting the city move, it seemed deaf to community concern.

In your answer, you said UTAS is a private organisation and suggested there was no role for your Government. That is not quite true, is it? UTAS is administered by an act of this parliament. It receives government funding and is where many of our best and brightest go to further their education. Do you agree that the state does have a role in the future of UTAS? Do you share the concerns of academics, graduates and current students about the corporatisation and decline in the academic quality of UTAS, or is your Government taking a completely hands-off approach to our key tertiary institution?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for her question. I believe, as with everything, that we need to move with the times and provide contemporary models of care within our health system and contemporary models of education, whether it be in our primary schools, high schools or our tertiary institutions or our highly valued public training provider TasTAFE.

I am aware of the elector poll result in the Hobart City Council area on the UTAS move. The Government supports the university's response, which was to withdraw the current planning amendment for the Sandy Bay site. The university has made it clear it will now work with the new Hobart City Council as the appropriate planning authority. The Government believes that a collaborative approach to find a sensible compromise is the best way forward for Hobart, the university and to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality education and research, which is what we all want.

I know there are some who think the Tasmanian Government should intervene in the university's plans under the mistaken belief that we have a responsibility for the university. This is incorrect.

Ms O'Connor - They are administered by an act of this parliament.

Mr ROCKLIFF - The University of Tasmania is a statutory corporation governed by the University Council, not the state government. There are formal mechanisms for the public to engage with the university and the Hobart City Council to provide feedback and comment -

Ms O'Connor - Totally hands-off? You're not worried?

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - on the university's plans. The University of Tasmania has established the Shake Up, which is a panel of up to 80 members across the community to discuss the UTAS proposal.

The Legislative Council has established an inquiry into the University of Tasmania Act 1995 which will offer further opportunity for consultation on matters relating to the University of Tasmania's future. The public is able to engage in this process as well. Any redevelopment plans the university chooses to pursue must also go through the regulated planning approvals process which allow for public consultation. We encourage those interested to participate in the consultation process available, including the established processes already in place under the planning system.