Parliament shrinks QUT council: not all MPs approve

QUT’s council will be smaller with passage of a bill through Queensland Parliament reducing membership from 22 to 15

Four elected positions are gone, including academic staff members dropping from three to two and professional staff from two to one. The university says the new council is “streamlined to improve governance.”

However, the National Tertiary Education Union long campaigned against the bill arguing, “staff and student representatives on governing bodies bring the perspectives of those constituencies to the decision-making process and requires a significant proportion of council membership for their voices to be heard effectively.”

Which did not sway Government and Opposition, with many LNP and Labor members who spoke in support of the bill, expressing affection for their experience of the university.

But two MPs spoke up against it.

“This bill is a Trojan horse for corporatising our universities. It will reduce collegiality, transparency and accountability. Today it is the Queensland University of Technology; tomorrow it is the rest of our public universities. … Effectively, students and staff no longer have a critical mass of numbers on the council. With council members already reporting difficulties in getting items on the agenda, things are looking pretty poor, the member for South Brisbane, Amy McMahon said.

Stephen Andrew (Mirani) made similar points. “I find the bill’s reduction of the council’s elected representation extremely concerning. It follows the same relentless drive we are seeing across the political spectrum to eliminate all forms of democratic or accountable representation from positions of power or influence in Australia. If left unchecked, it will end with all power and all authority being exercised by a tiny group of interconnected elites operating completely outside any established principle of participatory or representative democracy,”

Dr McMahon is a Greens MP. Mr Andrew is a member of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.