University Legislative Reform Project
The University is an independent, self-governing institution of higher learning, authorised under its existing Act to make legislation covering a wide range of matters of particular concern to the University. These powers are to be retained and extended under its proposed new Act.
The University’s statute book is its legislation taken as a whole. It provides a legal underpinning for the University’s status and operations.
The statute book is built up over time and needs periodic review to ensure that it remains up-to-date and of a high quality.
If you would like more information or to be involved in this project please contact Megan.Easton@anu.edu.au.
Key elements of the University Legislative Reform Project
A new ANU Act - A major design principle of the new Act will be the devolution of authority from the Act to Statutes, on many matters, many of which are currently prescribed in the Act. This approach will make the new Act and the University’s governance arrangements considerably more flexible, as the Council will be empowered to modify these legal structures over time to respond to the evolving needs of the University.
Updated Legislative Framework – the project provided the opportunity to review the University’s previous approaches to its legislation, and in particular to provide greater clarity for the respective roles of the Council and the University’s Executive and a sharper focus on what matters should be dealt with in University legislation rather than in other ways.
Rationalisation of the legislative instruments. In total ANU currently has 25 statutes, 21 rules and 4 orders (50 instruments in total). These include too many statutes, fragmentation and a lack of coherence, items that are out-of-date, redundant or obsolete, a lack of role clarity, unnecessary matters of University structure and organisation, unnecessary repetition of technical provisions, a lack of consistency in language and structure, and an overall lack of flexibility and needless complexity. The legislative reform includes the repeal of 32 legislative instruments and leaves ANU with a streamlined set of approximately 25 instruments in total.
New ANU Governance Statute and related legislation – commencing 1 January 2021 - The new ANU Act will require new governance arrangements to be established by statute, and some arrangements already in statute to be amended. Rather than having individual statutes that deal with very specific matters, as is the case presently, a single Australian National University (Governance) Statute, will address all of these matters.
Background on the Project
The University is established under the Australian National University Act 1991. Following a review of the Act (the Walker Review 2014), the Federal Government has agreed that a Bill for a replacement Act be drafted for introduction into the Parliament. A Bill is currently being finalised, and may be introduced into Parliament in the near future.
In 2018, in anticipation a new ANU Act, CGRO under took a comprehensive legislative reform project. This was driven by the major design principles of the new Act which are based on the devolution of authority from the Act to statutes, on many matters, many of which are currently prescribed in the Act. This approach will make the new Act and the University’s governance arrangements considerably more flexible, as the Council will be empowered to modify these legal structures over time to respond to the evolving needs of the University. The project involved wide spread consultation and input from across ANU and was endorsed at Council in July 2017 and May 2019.
As part of the legislative reform project the Australian National University (Governance) Statute has been prepared and most recently noted by Council in May 2020.
The Statute consolidates a large number of existing governance statutes into one single coherent document which will complete an important reform of the University’s governance framework.
This Statute has been prepared on the basis that it would be made under the ANU Act 1991, while being readily adaptable to the new ANU Act when passed by the Parliament.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the timing of the Parliament’s consideration of the ANU Bill, the University intends to finalise this work and to submit the updated ANU Governance Statute to Council for approval at the meeting of 2 October 2020, with a commencement of 1 January 2021.
Introducing new Legislative Instruments and repealing redundant items
ANU (Governance) Statute 2020
The Australian National University (Governance) Statute 2020 - most recently noted by Council in May 2020 - complies with the Australian National University Act 1991. It has also been designed to ensure that if/when the Bill for the new Australian National University Act passes the Parliament, the Governance Statute that can be readily amended.
In broad terms, it covers:
- Organisation of the University
- Council functions and powers
- Council composition
- Council member arrangements
- Council procedures
- Council committees
- Elections for staff and student members of Council
- Nominations Committee
- Delegations and sub delegations
- Rules, orders and other legislative instruments
- Miscellaneous matters
- Transitional matters
The Australian National University (Governance) Statute 2020 presents an opportunity to consolidate a large number of existing governance statutes into one single coherent statute, and conclude the implementation of recommendations of the Walker Review that are within the control of the University.
ANU (Legislation) Statute 2020
The Australian National University (Legislation) Statute 2020 replaces the Australian National University (Interpretation) Statute 2017.
The intention of this legislation is to help ensure University legislation is as simple, succinct and accessible as possible. This is to be achieved particularly in the following ways:
- facilitating the shortening and simplification of University legislation (Shortening legislation results in less clutter and increased simplicity. Reliance on the standard provisions of interpretation legislation simplifies legislation by dealing with matters, especially technical matters, once in the legislation Statute eliminates the need to include provisions about those matters in other items of legislation);
- promoting consistency in the form and language of University legislation;
- providing interpretative, administrative and machinery provisions for University legislation (for example, via the provisions for approval of forms and serving of notices) .
Repeal - ANU (Repeal) Statute 2020
The Australian National University (Repeal) Statute 2020 will complement the making of the Australian National University (Governance) Statute 20120, in that it repeals all the legislation that the Governance Statute is replacing. Approval of the Repeal Statute will replace 32 existing legislative instruments.
In addition ‘repeals’ related to the making of the Governance Statute, other repeals include the:
- Australian National University (ANU College Governance) Statute 2017
- ANU College Governance Rules (No. 2) 2013
- Coursework Handbook Rules 2013
It is proposed to replace the ANU College Governance Statute and Rule with a single procedure. In accordance with the Council approved University Legislation Policy (July 2017), the University wishes to avoid making (or keeping) legislation that establishes organisational units. The substantive content of the legislation will be transferred to a University procedure (which will still be mandatory in its application). As per the ANU Council Charter and the Academic School or Department Accreditation Procedure, Council will remain responsible for the establishment, disestablishment and naming of ANU colleges.
The University has received legal advice that the Coursework Handbook Rules 2013 no longer serve any practical purpose as the University no longer produces hardcopy coursework handbooks. All course information is now published online through the Programs and Courses system. Legislation is not required for that system to operate. Therefore the repeal of the Rules is recommended in the proposal.
Other consequential legislation to be made by the Vice-Chancellor
Following approval by Council of the Governance Statute, Repeal Statute and Legislation Statute, the Vice-Chancellor will also be invited to approve further complementary and consequential legislation, namely the:
- Governance Rule 2020
- Governance Order 2020
- Coursework Award Rule 2020
- Information Infrastructure and Services Rule 2020
- Information Infrastructure and Services Order 2020
The Governance Rule and Governance Order are very similar to the existing Council (Elections) Rule 2016 and Council (Elections) Order 2020, and will just be amended to align with the new Statutes.
These two pieces of legislation provide the procedural detail for the election of staff to the Council.
The Information Infrastructure and Services Rule and Order are being remade in very similar terms to their existing versions, but amended to reflect that the Information Infrastructure and Services Statute 2012 is being repealed by the Repeal Statute.
Similarly with the Coursework Award Rule, this requires updating as the current instrument is made under the authority of the Vice Chancellor Statute which will be repealed as part of this work. There are also a number of reference to orders that need to be amended to refer to University Legislation under the new framework. CGRO is currently working in consultation with DSA/ASQO to see if any further amendments should be incorporated.
For more assistance contact:
Corporate Governance and Risk Office