In a speech to the Innovative Research Universities Australia (IRUA) in Adelaide last night, the Hon. Julia Gillard, Minister for Education announced that the Rudd Government will be taking the foot of government off the throat of our universities.
In the coming session of Parliament the Rudd Government will deliver on its commitment to remove the Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements (HEWRRs) as a condition of university funding.
Consistent with the Rudd Government’s commitment to abolish Australian Workplace Agreements, the requirement that universities offer AWAs to employees, which is one element of the HEWRRs, will also cease.
The previous Liberal government’s relationship with universities was marked by distrust.
The Howard Government thought universities could not be trusted to get on with providing quality tuition to students, mounting quality research and exploring innovation.
The worst manifestation of this distrust was the introduction of HEWRRs.
Under the previous Liberal government, Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding was made conditional on meeting the HEWRRs and offering AWAs.
Through HEWRRs, the Howard Government forced universities to implement an ideologically driven industrial relations agenda in our institutions. The Rudd Labor Government trusts universities to manage their own workplace relations.
This is one part of demonstrating that the Rudd Labor Government’s relationship with universities will be built on trust and mutual respect.
Under the Rudd Government, our universities will be freed from restrictive, directive requirements that have diverted time and effort away from where it is needed most – the delivery of quality teaching and research.
Under the requirements of the current legislation, all eligible higher education providers were formally compliant with the HEWRRs as at 31 August 2007. This ensures that they retain all their Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding for 2008.