Thursday 18th October 2012

Hansard of the Legislative Council




In Committee


[5.27 p.m.]

Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.


Clause 5-

(Section 4 amended - Continuance and incorporation of University)


Mr FINCH - Through my presentation I spoke about clause 5. I will not go over the detail of what I said but it is a claim to rewrite history. Clause 5, amending section 4, deals with the continuance and incorporation of the university. My suggestion is that there was no continuance of the university. The act that established the university in 1890 was abolished along with the Institute of Technology in Launceston. They were both abolished - finito, kaput, that is it, 'all over, red rover,' - to form the new university.


What I would like explained to me is why it is in there. I have presented my case as to why it should not be there as I think it is an attempt to rewrite history.


I have lived in the north now for 40 years and I was across this debate when it occurred in our community and it was a very strong debate and a strong issue. I can go back here to, 'Warning on uni talks' This goes back to 1988:


The Education Minister, Peter Rae, has urged the state's three tertiary bodies not to allow proposed amalgamation talks to develop into a war for control of the new state-wide university.


There was concern that these organisations were being subsumed by the bigger University of Tasmania from Hobart. That was the signal that went out from 1988 through to 1992, and subsequently through the years there has always been this fight to make sure that there is the correct recognition of what is going on in other parts of the university. I have detailed already the figures that amplify that what is occurring is that the development of the university in the north is not the same exponential growth that you have in the south of the state. I am signalling that, that that is what is occurring and that is what is being read by people, by academics, by the people at the university, the staff, by the students in the north, that the proper development of that place is under threat constantly and there has to be a fight all the time to dig in and say, 'Look, recognise us properly.'


Clause 5 says, 'for the avoidance of doubt.' Who is doubting it? Why is that in there, Leader? The university is taken to have continued in existence under the name University of Tasmania. The debate that unfolded on the floor of parliament was about what the new name should be. The best suggestion I think came from Peter Patmore, if you could just be light-hearted for a moment. He said that it should be the University of Launceston incorporating the University of Hobart, but he also said, 'I don't think I will get away with that'.


All the time the talk was in 1992 that it was a new university. The Southern Cross University was one of the names that was suggested, and there were other names that came forward that might represent this new university. Eventually when the council was formed and everybody thought about what the name should be, it came back to no, no, it is about a university in Tasmania.


Dr Goodwin - Yes, we are in Tasmania.


Mr FINCH - So as the decision was made, the new name for the new university would be an appropriate one, the University of Tasmania. It meant that it was the commencement of a new history. I am hoping the leader is going to say to me that the reason we want this avoidance of doubt is that when we look to appeal to our Asian students who might come here, to the Chinese students, the Indian students, that they might say, hello -


Members laughing.


Mr FINCH - this university is not a new university, this is a sandstone university.


Mr Valentine - That is exactly what it is about.


Mr FINCH - I hope that is what the leader is going to tell me. If he has another story we are all in trouble. This is trying to remove that moment in history when both the institutions were abolished by an act of this parliament to say that they no longer virtually fold, no longer exist, but what comes out of that is now the new university. It says, '... the University is taken to have continued in existence ... since its establishment in 1890'. It has not. It was abolished in 1992. It has not continued in its existence. It is a new university. It is a different university. It just happens to have been decided that it will retain the same name.


Mr Valentine - It's one of four sandstone universities, that's why.


Mr FINCH - I want to make the point again that representatives from that area of the state have to bring the signals down of what people are thinking and what people are talking about. Others might not have heard the argument. I have heard the argument. I have had it delivered to me hot and strong. I am delivering the message to this House. That is my job, is it not? I am delivering the message hot and strong and I am saying that that is what has been represented to me. These are the arguments that have been put forward and these were the arguments that were recognised, hot and strong in 1988; in 1990 when it unfolded; in 1992 when both organisations were abolished. The argument was that this would be a new university.


You might say this is a picky point, but the point is it is here, this is what people have brought to my attention and have made strong representations to me about. I will be interested to hear what the leader has to say.


Madam DEPUTY CHAIR - Before the honourable member resumes his seat, I suggest that he invite honourable members to vote against the clause if they are persuaded by your argument. I do not believe you indicated that in your presentation.


Mr FINCH - Thank you, Madam Deputy Chair. I invite members to vote against this clause if they have a sense that what I am saying is appropriate. I cannot understand why it is in there. It does not need to be in there and it does not serve any purpose.

Madam Deputy Chair, I move -

That clause 5 be amended by voting against the clause.


Mr FARRELL - It may not have any great importance to the honourable member for Rosevears but he did sort of answer part of his own question at one stage. This is important to the alumni of the university because it removes doubt as to the continuity of the university and therefore the validity - and here is another Latin word that I have learnt today - testamur. The College of Arms in London is responsible for approving and maintaining the validity of our coat of arms and the continuing link must be maintained to ensure the validity of all degree certificates. Someone has written to the college and this is to remove doubt so it is important for the alumni that this maintains the link of the university.


Ms FORREST - Madam Deputy Chair, I will be supporting this clause as it stands. I draw your attention to the principal act, section 4, Continuance and incorporation of University:


(1) Notwithstanding the repeal of this Act, the Amalgamation Act, the University continues in existence under and subject to the provisions of this Act under the name 'University of Tasmania'.


(2) The University -


(a) has perpetual succession and a seal; and

(b) may sue and be sued in its corporate name.


(3) The seal is to be kept and used only as authorised by the Council.


  1. (4) All courts and persons acting judicially must take judicial notice of the imprint of the seal on a document and presume that it was duly sealed by the University.


Then this will add new subsection (5), 'For the avoidance of doubt, the University is taken to have continued in existence under the name 'University of Tasmania' since its establishment in 1890'.


I have had representation about this from the Launceston area. I had a discussion with one of my constituents and I said that I think others may be jumping at shadows here. I am hoping to be an alumnus of the university in the not too distant future, and it is important to note that this is a continuing institution of tertiary education since 1890. This is to ensure that is not lost.


Subsection 4(1) of the principal act makes that clear: 'Notwithstanding the repeal of this Act ...', - this is the intention. A doubts removal clause has been deemed necessary because of some fear that it may not be recognised in that sense, when it was clearly intended it would be. The University of Tasmania is the University of Tasmania - it has campuses all around the state. At the moment it may not be growing exponentially in the north, as it is in the south, but let me tell you that the Cradle Coast campus is growing exponentially. That has grown beyond belief - way above the expectations of anyone when it was first established. It has been a godsend for that part of the state because that is the area of the state with the least number of people getting university degrees. We are seeing many mature age students who have never been to university, and no-one in their family has been to university - we are seeing a whole new cohort of students. We have parents of young people saying, 'I can get a university degree on the north-west coast, so you can go to university too'. It is sending a fantastic message to the people up there.


It is about the University of Tasmania, it is about recognising the University of Tasmania as an ongoing entity since 1890. Whether we need a doubts removal clause or not, I am taking the advice provided on this. I do not think we need to be jumping at shadows and I will be supporting the clause as it is.


Mr FINCH - I think that it is only fair that if I have three speaks, I use at least two of them.


Members laughing.


Mr FINCH - The agreement with my move to present this amendment is not resonating through the chamber, but I hear your explanation. In any of the notes I have read, I have not had that detail, and it has not come across my purview as I have carried out my research. The sandstone is not a figment of my imagination. The member for Nelson spoke to me about this 'sandstone history' that is attractive to students. As I worked through it, it did fall into place.


I withdraw the amendment.


Clause 5 agreed to.