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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1080


Senator SCHACHT —Yesterday Senator Bell asked me a question about a matter relating to a doctorate produced by a student at the University of Tasmania. I now have some information on that question which I took on notice. The University of Tasmania has advised that Ms de Blas undertook a study of pollution arising from the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd activities at Macquarie Harbour for her undergraduate honours degree. Her thesis was examined and she was granted first-class honours. She sought to publish her thesis and asked the University of Tasmania to provide indemnity should a legal action arise. The university considered her request and, after lengthy consideration of the potential implications, has agreed. There would appear to be no issue of interference in the academic process in this instance.

  Australian universities have autonomy in respect of academic matters. Universities are responsible for managing their involvement in joint university-industry projects and for protecting the rights of their staff and students working on such projects. The standing of Ms de Blas's thesis is therefore a matter for the University of Tasmania. It should be noted, however, that it is not normal practice for a university to publish a student's thesis, even if that thesis meets requirements for the award of a degree. I understand the university has made no attempt to prevent Ms de Blas from publishing her thesis. I am also advised that the University of Tasmania has indicated it has been unable to release all details of this matter as it is currently sub judice.