MP Cusack strikes back against SCU critics
LIBERAL MLC Catherine Cusack has made a speech in Parliament defending Southern Cross University and its senior management team.
It follows a speech made by Greens MLC Dr John Kaye last week, during which he claimed that SCU management's "cavalier" approach to spending and staff welfare had driven the regional university to "crisis point".
Ms Cusack rejected those claims, saying vice chancellor Peter Lee was "outstanding" and had a 30-year academic career.
"I was dismayed by the appalling spray against the university delivered by Dr John Kaye in this place last week at the behest of the National Tertiary Education Union, which is having an industrial dispute with the university," she said in Parliament yesterday.
"That is okay; unions versus employers is democracy.
"What is not okay is John Kaye escalating an employment dispute to a disgraceful personal attack on our vice-chancellor, and distorted quotes that seek to bring the entire viability and future of the university into disrepute."
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.
But Ms Cusack said the university was only a young institution, and one that was growing rapidly.
She outlined some of SCU's recent achievements, including the new science and engineering precinct, and said events such as the Michael Kirby Lecture helped to "inspire our youth and elevate our society".
"Many workforce shortages, such as nursing, have been completely resolved, thanks to the university," she said.
"Its viability, including its attractiveness to international students is vital to our future."