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Greens MLC lauches Parliamentary attack on SCU spending

Greens MLC John Kaye.
Greens MLC John Kaye. Trevor Veale

GREENS MLC John Kaye has savaged the senior management of Southern Cross University in the NSW Upper House, claiming its "cavalier" approach to spending and staff welfare has driven the regional university to "crisis point".

The speech comes days after the National Tertiary Education Union called for an investigation by the NSW Auditor-General into the university's finances amid $6 million in planned budget cuts set to cost 50 jobs.

Dr Kaye's broadside on the university echoed much of the union's line of thinking.

In response to the speech, the university noted Dr Kaye was a long-standing member of the union.

"The comments made by Dr Kaye repeat false and misleading comments by the NTEU which Southern Cross University strenuously refutes," the statement said.

In his comments within the Parliament, Dr Kaye said SCU management had been "neither clever nor prudent" in dealing with challenges currently faced by the changing tertiary education sector "and the staff are now being forced to pay the price".

"The Auditor-General's 2014 report singled out SCU as having the weakest financial sustainability indicators in the State, with two years of negative operating margins," he said.

"Morale has reached an all-time low, job cuts threaten the viability of the university and questions now surround the competency and integrity of management."

Already 50 staff have lost their jobs and another 50 are now at risk."

Dr Kaye questioned the $50 million Gold Coast campus Building B, opened in 2013, and the university opting to move into engineering education, apparently subject to a volatile demand for places.

He claimed that senior management had refused to answer questions about "debt, project funding, staff engagement and, significantly, the Vice Chancellor's performance bonuses".

"The 2013 annual report shows that Vice Chancellor Professor Lee's package was worth more than $632,000 and that the university council deemed that he "met all performance objectives".

"However, there is no information on what these were."

Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack interrupted Dr Kaye's speech several times, claiming the allegations were a "baseless smear" without any evidence.

Topics:  john kaye southern cross university



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