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Monday, 1 December 2003
Page: 23301

Mr DANBY (2:43 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, Science and Training. Minister, isn't it true that the University of Melbourne's governing council passed a resolution refusing to cross-subsidise the Victorian College of the Arts, which now faces a $5 million funding cut? Is the minister aware of comments by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne that the viability of the Victorian College of the Arts `is going to depend on the capacity of the government to coerce a university council that has said that it won't be coerced'? Minister, does your higher education legislation give you unprecedented powers to dictate to universities what they will and will not fund?

Dr NELSON (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —In response to the member for Melbourne Ports, I answered this question last week. Melbourne university will next year have a budget approaching $1 billion. In core funding alone, it will receive an extra $23 million in the first three years from this government's higher education reforms. I have assured the Victorian College of the Arts that it will continue to be funded, as it currently is, through Melbourne university and it will receive not only its current level of funding but also a proportionate increase consistent with that of Melbourne university.

The member for Melbourne Ports raises this issue about the Victorian College of the Arts but perhaps he, and all members on the Labor side, might explain to the higher education sector in Australia why Labor is voting against Australian universities receiving an extra $2.4 billion in the first five years. The member for Melbourne Ports ought to pick up the phone to the Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne university and tell him in plain language that he, the member for Melbourne Ports, is actually voting against any increase in funding for the university.