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Bill disadvantages Waitakere

Media release
25 November 2004

Bill disadvantages Waitakere

Citizens of Waitakere City will be seriously disadvantaged if the Education (Establishment of Universities) Amendment Bill is passed, says Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey.

Mayor Harvey, addressing the Education and Science Select Committee in Auckland today, said if the Bill (commonly known as the ‘Unitec Bill) becomes law, it will unfairly prevent Unitec getting university status and disadvantage Waitakere.

The Mayor set out the City’s strong support for Unitec gaining University Status. “Unitec is a key part of the equation in strengthening the Waitakere City community which has been disadvantaged for decades due to the absence of a tertiary institute.
Unitec is making a huge investment in Waitakere in partnership with the Council, and Unitec gaining university status will enhance this investment,” said Mayor Harvey.

A tertiary educational presence is an important strand of the “kete” – that is, the interwoven fabric of the Waitakere City community,” says Mayor Harvey. “It is interrelated with job growth, income levels, crime reduction, health statistics and the whole social and economic fabric of the City.

The Mayor stated that Council and international research has indicated Unitec is expected to deliver significant economic, environmental and social benefits for Waitakere City as a whole and specifically for the Henderson Centre. “Unitec have also demonstrated that they are delivering research and teaching programmes at University level” said Mayor Harvey.

Waitakere City’s submission to the Select Committee strongly opposes the Bill, criticising the apparent intent of the Minister to deny Unitec a fair hearing in its quest for University status. The Council is particularly critical of Section 6 of the Bill which it says “appears to provide for any successful application by Unitec made before the Bill is passed into law to be invalidated retrospectively.”

The Council’s submission states that such a law would set an “unfortunate precedent”, be “constitutionally unwise”, and would amount to a “get out of jail free card” for the Government. The Council asks that Section 6 of the Bill be omitted.

The Mayor concluded the submission by setting out a ‘win-win’ way forward for all parties involved in the stand-off over Unitec’s situation. “It would seem possible to provide for a new category of University, namely a dual sector ‘University of Technology’. In reality, there are already two of these – Unitec and AUT” said Mayor Harvey.

“Such a move would signal a specific emphasis on applied research and learning with a specific class of institution to focus on delivery in this area. This would enable the Government to meet its goals of limiting the number of “Blue-sky Research” Universities, and promoting cooperation, coordination and efficient resource use in the tertiary education sector. It would also enable Unitec and Waitakere City to meet their goals”, said Mayor Harvey.


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