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Uni Merger a Missed Opportunity for SA as Labor and Liberals Block Greens’ Amendments

2 November 2023

The Upper House has missed the opportunity to establish a new University that leads the nation in transparent governance and staff protections, say the SA Greens.

The merger passed the Upper House last night with the support of all parties except the Greens.

The Greens moved a range of amendments to the bill including:

  • requiring the University to be an exemplary employer, offering secure, meaningful work to staff;
  • changing the composition of the new governing Council to boost diversity and ensure it comprises of a majority of staff and students;
  • requiring the new Council to have a Code of Conduct;
  • requiring Council meetings to be held in public;
  • mandating the publication of Council minutes and agendas;
  • mandating the disclosure of any external consultants;
  • giving the Remuneration Tribunal the power to set the salary of the Vice Chancellor;
  • prohibiting investments in defence or fossil fuels; and
  • requiring annual reports to include information on how many teaching hours are done by full time, part time, sessional and casual staff.

Only the amendment to require the new University Council to have a Code of Conduct was successful. The other Greens amendments were defeated, with only Frank Pangallo MLC voting in support.

“It was disappointing to see Labor and the Liberals band together to defeat sensible amendments that would have improved this bill,” said Greens SA Education Spokesperson Robert Simms MLC.

“South Australians will be stunned to see Labor, ‘the party of the worker’, opposing an amendment to make this university an exemplary employer, offering secure and meaningful work.”

“The major parties, supported by Connie Bonaros, also worked together to block sensible transparency measures like the publication of university agendas and minutes that surely would have boosted public confidence in this new institution.”

“This was an opportunity to break new ground, establishing a new university that led the nation with governance and industrial democracy. Sadly, it seems the corporatisation of the higher education sector will continue under the banner of this new university.”

Last night Mr Simms also brought his motion calling for the universities to release the business case underpinning the merger proposal to a vote, but it was defeated with Connie Bonaros and One Nation siding with the Government to block the move.