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Murdoch University Senate


25 August 1980


Minutes of the meeting of the Senate held in the Senate Room at 4.30 p.m. on Monday 25 August 1980.


Mr R M Hillman (Pro-Chancellor)

Professor F M G Willson (Vice-Chancellor)

Mr J J Ahern

Ms M A Anthony

Mr G Aplin

Sir Noel Bayliss

Rabbi Shalom Coleman

Mr S D Corser

Mr I Finlayson

Mr D P Fischer

Mr S Hickman

Dr P Jennings

Professor J F Loneragan

Mrs A McTaggart

Mr J Slattery

Mr S W Woods


Professor A M Kerr

Mr D D Dunn (Secretary)

Mr R H Campbell



On Leave:

The Hon. Sir Ronald Wilson (Chancellor)

Mr R A Lindsey

Professor R G Wales



The Hon. K E Beazley

Mr M A Lewi

Mr M McCusker

Professor D C Sinclair


1.       MINUTES

The minutes of the confirmed meeting of the Senate held on 28 July 1980 were


Ms Anthony was congratulated on the birth of her daughter, and welcomed back to the Senate.

The Pro-Chancellor on behalf of members welcomed Mr Finlayson to his first meeting of the Senate.

The Senate noted that the present term of office of Professor Wales, who had been granted leave of absence from the meeting, would expire before the next meeting of the Senate. Nominations had been called for the vacancy.


The Senate expressed its regret at the death of the late Professor E J Underwood and its condolences to Mrs Underwood and other members of his family. Members noted that Professor Underwood had been the University’s second Murdoch Lecturer, and had assisted the University in a number of ways in its formative years.


The Pro-Chancellor informed members that the former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Griew, had been appointed President of Athabasca University, which was established in 1972 in Edmonton, Alberta, specifically to provide courses for external students.


Although he wished to continue as a member of this Committee, Mr Hillman had asked to be relieved of the Chairmanship because of increased work commitments, an impending absence on leave, and the fact that his third term on the Senate would expire in July 1981.



that Mr S Corser be appointed Chairman of the Property Committee.

(ii) Having noted that a vacancy existed on this Committee following the resignation from the Senate of Ms M Martin



that Mr I Finlayson be appointed a member of the Property Committee.




that Mr Hillman be granted Leave of Absence from the September and October meetings of the Senate and Rabbi Coleman from the October and November meetings.


The report of the Vice-Chancellor was received, those items requiring consideration by the Senate being dealt with separately hereunder.


The Vice-Chancellor reported that, following a request at the previous meeting for information concerning chaplaincy arrangements at the University, he had ascertained that in 1975 the Senate had appointed a committee to discuss this question. The committee had reported in June 1975 that existing informal arrangements, which included lists held by the Counselling Service of clergymen known to be willing to offer assistance to students requiring it, appeared to be adequate at that stage of the development of the University.

The Vice-Chancellor commented that many of the Australian universities had some form of chaplaincy service and that it did not seem that the 1975 arrangement was a very satisfactory alternative at this stage, particularly as many students would be unaware of the existence of the lists. Accordingly he proposed, if the Senate agreed, to approach leaders of the major denominations (Anglican, Catholic, Uniting Church, Jewish) to ask if they would be willing to nominate members of the clergy, preferably working in the general vicinity of the University, who might be appointed as part-time chaplains on the understanding that the University’s ability to assist would be limited to the provision of publicity and the availability of meeting facilities on an occasional basis.



that the Vice-Chancellor be encouraged to take the action he proposed.


The Senate was reminded that when it approved new Library Regulation 15, instituting a system of demerit points, at its July meeting the Vice-Chancellor had been asked to explore the possibility of providing students with the means to check their own borrowing records so that incorrect award of demerit points could be challenged.

The Vice-Chancellor stated that he had been informed by the University Librarian that arrangements had been made to keep on file a complete record for each borrower of points incurred and how they had been incurred, so that a borrower who wished to check his own record would be able to do so.


The Senate noted that after consultation with the Chancellor and the Chairman of the Finance and Staffing Committee the Vice-Chancellor had advised the AVCC that this University did not wish to make a separate submission to the Academic Salaries Tribunal in its current review of academic remuneration, and that the University did not consider that there were issues special to it which should be mentioned in the AVCC’s submission, a draft of which would be circulated to all Vice-Chancellors for comment and subsequent revision.


The Senate noted that the Chairman and members of the Universities Council would be visiting the University on 22 and 23 September as part of a revived series of triennial visits to all universities. A programme of meetings and of visits to various parts of the campus was being arranged, and it was also probable that a dinner would be held to which some members of the Senate would be invited.


The Vice-Chancellor reported that the Government had not yet come to a firm conclusion as to whether this centre should be established by statute, by incorporation under the Companies Act, or in some other way, and that this delay was causing some difficulty in the appointment of a Director. The Selection Committee, representing all major prospective users of the Centre, wished to make an immediate offer of appointment to a particular candidate, although there was as yet no established position to which he could be appointed. It was accordingly proposed that a position of Senior Lecturer should be established at Murdoch University, and an appointment made to this position on the basis that any costs involved would be met by the Centre from its setting-up funds, with this University paying no more than its agreed share of any Centre expenditure, and that the position being funded in this way should not be recorded in the University’s statistical returns. It was intended that immediately the Centre had been formally established the director should be seconded from the University.

In discussion it was confirmed that the post of director had been advertised by Murdoch University with the full agreement of the prospective users, and that the line of action now proposed was fully supported by them. It was proposed that the post should be established with an academic salary scale and conditions of service to indicate that the director would have the opportunity to carry out research and to make the post more attractive.

Concern was expressed by several members that the contract of service to be offered, if the position were established, should be cleared with the University’s legal advisers to ensure that the University was fully protected against any salary claim or claim for a continuing appointment.




that a position of senior lecturer be established to be occupied bythe person offered the post of Director of the State Animal Resources Centre, and

(ii)  that the University should accept no commitment towards the cost of this appointment beyond its agreed share of the costs of the SARO.


The Secretary reported that only six nominations had been received for the 12 positions on the Standing Committee of Convocation and that accordingly these six persons had been declared elected and a further election had been called in an attempt to fill the remaining positions in time for the Standing Committee to be constituted and to meet before the scheduled first annual general meeting of Convocation on 28 October.

14.     SIGNS

The Vice-Chancellor drew attention to the large pre-cast cement signs bearing the name of the University which had been erected at the two main entrances to the University off South Street. He explained that modifications to the lighting were proposed to make the signs even more attractive and effective.


The report of the meeting of the Academic Council held on 13 August 1980 was received, those items requiring consideration by the Senate being dealt with separately hereunder.


On the recommendation of the Academic Council




that the degrees and diplomas set out in Appendix A to this report be awarded to the Students named, who had completed the requirements of the relevant Regulations.


 that having fulfilled the relevant degree requirements, the following students be awarded degrees:-

Mrs C Murray (nee Davidge) (779004D) PhD for her thesis entitled "The Herpeto-faunal Community of a Banksia Woodland near Perth, Western Australia."

(ii) Mr W C Green (759001B): MPhil for his thesis entitled "Metafiction: Self-Reflexive Practice and the Contestation of Fictive Narrative Form."
(iii) Mr D S Carter (779067D): Master of Education. Mr J S Tognolini (779074E): Master of Education.
(iv) Mr E Musa (789106B): MSc in Environmental Science.


The Senate noted that University legislation and procedures for the appointment of Student Representatives to the Academic Council and to other bodies did not at present contain any provision to exclude from election any persons enrolled as students who were full-time members of staff or employed by the University on a substantial and continuing basis. Academic Council had felt that this was contrary to the spirit in which provision had been made for student representation on University bodies and had accordingly recommended

(i)  that any necessary amendments be made to University legislation to implement the principle that no member of the staff of the University other than a person who is primarily a student should be eligible for election or appointment as a student representative on any University body and
(ii)  that these amendments should be effective for all elections held after the necessary amendments had been made.

Some concern was expressed that the proposed amendment was rather imprecise and also that it might be too sweeping as there could be some case for a staff member who was enrolled as a part-time student to be able to represent postgraduate students on appropriate boards. However, the Vice-Chancellor indicated that the form of words "other than a person who is primarily a student" appeared after legal advice to be the most satisfactory available, and that there had been unanimous support on the Council for the proposed change.

On the recommendation of the Academic Council




 that University legislation be amended as necessary to implement the principle that no member of the staff of the University other than a person who was primarily a student should be eligible for election or appointment as a student representative on any University body and


 that these amendments be effective for all elections held after their passage.

18.      PRIZES

On the recommendation of the Academic Council





 that the offer of the Swan Brewery Company to provide two prizes of $250 per year over a five-year period be gratefully accepted.

that one prize be awarded for the best academic performance in Biochemistry by an undergraduate student and the other for the best academic performance in Microbiology by an undergraduate student

(c)  that the prizes be awarded by the School of Environmental and Life Sciences on the recommendation of the Biology Programme Committee.


On the recommendation of the Academic Council



that Schools of Study Regulation 7(1) be amended to provide for the Head, Division of Veterinary Biology and the Head, Division of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery to be ex-officio members of the Board of the School of Veterinary Studies.


Following consideration by the Board of Research and Postgraduate Studies of a proposal for increasing the number of examiners of PhD theses to three on a regular basis, and on the recommendation of the Academic Council



that Regulation 23(l)b of the Regulations for the Degrees of PhD and MPhil be amended to provide that two or more examiners shall be appointed for a PhD thesis, at least two of whom shall be external.


The Senate noted that the Council was recommending reversion to practice which had applied before 1979 under which theses for higher degrees might be accepted in a temporarily bound form for examination, to facilitate any minor amendments and corrections, but that students would have the option to submit bound theses should they wish.

On the recommendation of the Academic Council



that Regulation 20 of the Regulations for the Degrees of PhD and MPhil be amended to provide that a thesis to be examined for either of those degrees shall be submitted for examination in either a temporarily or a permanently bound form at the discretion of the student concerned, either form to be as approved by the University Librarian.


The Senate noted that there had been no meeting of this Committee since the last meeting of the Senate.


The Senate noted that there had been no meeting of this Committee since the last meeting of the Senate.


The Senate noted that there had been no meeting of this Committee since the last meeting of the Senate However, its attention was drawn to sketch plans for a possible student housing development on campus which had been prepared for presentation after some further refinement to the Universities Council in accordance with its new procedures for proposed major capital works, and also to assist in the consideration of possible fund raising activities.

The Senate noted that it was proposed that the accommodation should comprise shared flats, each with a number of single bedrooms, together with some flats for married couples and several small cottages for staff members and visitors to the University. Provision had also been made for limited catering facilities to make the development more attractive as a conference venue.

It had been estimated that development to the stage indicated on the plans and providing 94 student places would cost $2,000,000, while 60 student places, excluding the other more expensive areas, would cost some $1,000,000.

The Senate noted that the site indicated on the plans was closer to the present buildings than was proposed in the University site plan, but appeared to allow adequate space for academic growth.


The Vice-Chancellor reported that there had been no meeting of this Committee since the last meeting of the Senate.

The Vice-Chancellor reminded the Senate that at its last meeting he had undertaken to report to this meeting on a matter discussed at the meeting of the Committee held on the 23 July. This related to the issue of staff eligibility for student positions on University bodies which was to be debated more fully under another Agenda item. The Committee had been informed that the Guild had recently discussed the election of two full-time members of staff to student positions on University committees, and had requested that the University "look into the legal area for a definition of the term ‘student’ for next year." The Committee had agreed that it was desirable the Act should be amended to provide that full-time or substantially part-time staff members of the University should not be eligible for student positions on the Senate or on other academic committees.


The minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 25 July 1980 were received, those items requiring consideration by the Senate being noted separately hereunder.


The Senate noted that the Committee had considered a number of specific recommendations contained in a report by Mr D McConnell of the Education Services and Teaching Resources Unit. A number of these recommendations were being implemented at an administrative level, including the printing of an information booklet for disabled students, which it was agreed should be circulated in draft to members of the Committee for comment prior to publication.

In accordance with another recommendation in the report the Committee had recommended that the University adopt a statement of official policy concerning handicapped students, and an amended statement had been recommended to the Senate. The Senate was assured that the statement was essentially an affirmation of existing practice and that the Counselling Service Co-ordinator, Mr Woodroffe, had been appointed as the Primary Contact Officer as an additional responsibility.

On the recommendation of the Equal Opportunity Committee



that the following statement be adopted


The University accepts that all persons with a physical disability who are suitably qualified for tertiary-level studies shall be eligible for admission to the University under the general procedures for admittance of students.


A Primary Contact officer shall be appointed with special responsibility for oversight of the social and academic welfare of all enrolled handicapped students.
(iii)  The University may approve alternative methods of teaching courses and setting of course objectives where these are necessary and desirable to meet the needs of handicapped students.
(iv)  Where possible, flexible administrative and academic arrangements should apply to the conduct of examinations and general assessment of handicapped students.
(v)  In the design and construction of buildings on the University campus due regard shall be given to ease of access and provision of special facilities for disabled persons.


(i) Non-Academic Staff

The minutes of the Committee drew attention to the fact that when it had previously recommended that paid maternity leave should be provided for non-academic staff the Senate had resolved that no changes should be made to the present maternity leave conditions pending the outcome of a move for a national award for all university non-academic staff. The Committee had noted that in view of a recent determination by Justice Gaudron which appeared to affect the likelihood of a national award negotiations for a new State award for non-academic staff were likely to be entered into. The Committee had accordingly given further consideration to this matter.

While sensitive to the argument that a request by it for the adoption of certain principles by the Senate might place the Vice-Chancellor and the University’s negotiators in a potentially difficult and embarrassing position in the negotiation of a new industrial ‘package’ and while recognising the convention that uniformity should be maintained with conditions for the Western Australian Public Service which does not provide paid maternity leave, the Committee had noted that Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia were the only two Australian universities not to provide paid leave for their general staff. It had accordingly recommended that the Senate should note the views of the Committee on the provision of paid maternity leave for members of the non-academic staff, and that these should be borne in mind during the negotiations for a new State award.

In discussion of this recommendation, the point was again made that it was inappropriate that issues of particular conditions of service should be raised in the Senate at a time when general negotiations over the award were in progress, and that this could create considerable difficulties and embarrassment for the persons representing the University in these negotiations.

Some disappointment was expressed that the recommendation was not more positive. It was argued by one member of Senate that while the award provided that a female officer must take leave for some weeks before and after her confinement it was unreasonable that she should also be deprived of pay for that period. Attention was also drawn to the fact that the conditions for general staff at WAIT include provision for paid maternity leave.

Following further discussion, including consideration of whether the matter should be referred back to the Committee,



To note the views of the Equal Opportunity Committee on the provision of paid maternity leave for members of the non-academic staff and that these be borne in mind during negotiations for a new State award.

Ms Anthony and Dr Jennings asked that their dissent from this motion be recorded.

(ii) Superannuation Payments

(1) On the recommendation of the Equal Opportunity Committee



that as a matter of principle the University should pay its share of superannuation contributions in respect of unpaid maternity leave for academic staff and that the Finance and Staffing Committee be requested to report on any financial burden or effect on other University developments which might arise from the adoption of the above principle.

(2) The Senate noted the view of the Committee that, in accordance with the practice of most other Australian universities, University payment of its superannuation contributions during unpaid maternity leave should also apply to the non-academic staff.


The Senate noted that the Equal Opportunity Committee had considered, in the light of an AVCC summary of conditions at all Australian universities, the request from MUASA which had been referred to it for report by the Senate that "part-time contracts should be available for tenurable lecturing staff at all levels to enable academics, both male and female, to fulfil their commitments to children without losing their careers."

The Committee had been informed by the Vice-Chancellor that fractional appointments had been made at Murdoch, for library staff in particular, and that there was no objection in principle to such appointments being made at the tenurable or non-tenurable level for both academic and non-academic staff. As yet the situation of the fractional appointment of an academic staff member had not arisen.

The Senate noted that the matter of fractional appointments had since come forward through the Academic Salaries Tribunal, where in a recent determination on part-time rates of pay Mr Justice Ludecke had recommended that where a staff member was employed for 60% or more of the time and duties expected of a full-time staff member, that person should be classified as a fractional appointee and should receive on a pro-rata basis the same non-salary conditions as those enjoyed by full-time staff.

Having noted that there was no formal policy on this matter, and on the recommendation of the Equal Opportunity Committee






to adopt the policy that fractional appointments should be available for academic staff at all levels, and
(ii)  that, in view of the existing uncertainty resulting from consideration of fractional appointments on an ad hoc basis, the Finance and Staffing Committee be requested to consider and report on the terms and conditions of appointment which should apply in these cases.


The Senate noted that following its discussion of the MUASA policy statement the Committee had recognised that an amendment to its terms of reference might be necessary to ensure that items brought before it at future meetings were clearly under its jurisdiction and that the Committee should consider only items referred to it by the Senate in connection with its advisory role on areas of discrimination or alleged discrimination at the University.

On the recommendation of the Equal Opportunity Committee



that the Committee’s terms of reference be amended to provide that the Committee shall consider only those matters referred to it for report by the Senate.


The Vice-Chancellor drew attention to the earlier references in the report of the Academic Council and the minutes of the Equal Opportunity Committee to the desirability of a variation of the constitutions of University bodies to ensure that staff members were not eligible for appointment to positions to be filled "by and from amongst the students." He pointed out that in all cases except one this could be achieved by action within the University, but that in the case of membership of the Senate an amendment to the Act would be required.

Some concern was expressed as to the form of the amendment to the Act which was proposed and to the difficulties which might face the Returning Officer and ultimately the Senate in deciding questions of eligibility. However, the Senate was assured that careful attention had been given to this by the University’s legislative draftsman and by legally qualified members of the Senate and also that the form of amendment would ultimately be a matter for the Parliamentary Draftsman.



that an amendment to the Murdoch University Act be sought to exclude staff members who are employed full-time or for a substantial proportion of the time from eligibility for election to the Senate as students and to suggest that this might best be achieved by the addition to Section 12(2) of the Act of an additional subsection (c) to read

"(c) a person who is a member of the staff of the University, other than a person who is primarily a student, is not eligible for election under paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of this section."


A report by Dr John Hooper on his Outside Studies Programme was noted.


The Senate noted the appointment of Dr J Webb as a lecturer in inorganic chemistry, Mrs P A Romanoski as a tutor/supervisor in the School of Education, and of Dr J S Birnbrauer as Associate Professor in Psychology. It was noted that both Dr Webb and Associate Professor Birnbrauer had been temporary members of staff for several years.

The meeting closed at 6.50pm.