ROBINSON COLLEGE, BROKEN HILL
Mr JOHN WILLIAMS
(Murray-Darling) [6.02 p.m.]: Tonight I advise the House of the frustration and concern of people in Broken Hill about the future of Robinson College, an organisation that has been serving the community very well. Its future is threatened because of the proposed sale of its premises by Charles Sturt University. I shall give the House the chronology of events. University education in Broken Hill started in 1959 when the Broken Hill division of the University of New South Wales was formed at the rear of the technical college. People involved in metalliferous mining, metallurgy, mining engineering and geology predominantly received their tertiary degrees based primarily around the mining industry, and in due course mechanical engineering and electrical engineering courses were included in the education curriculum.
In 1964 the Vice Chancellor of the University of New South, Professor Baxter, visited Broken Hill and announced that a new college was to be built off Wentworth Road. This new college was called W. S. and L. B. Robinson College. The tender sum to stage one was £100,000, but Zinc Corporation, which was active in those years, contributed the money and donated the land. Therefore, the university provided nothing towards the college. In due course, the university successfully awarded 200 degrees between 1966, with seven men graduating in that year, and the last degrees being awarded in 1980.
The University of New South Wales then decided that it did not want to retain the facility and handed it over to Charles Sturt University, which proposed that the Mitchell College of Advanced Education, Riverina, and the Murray Institute of Higher Education would jointly provide tertiary courses. The agreed sum for the transaction was $1. Since 1998 the Robinson College has provided education to the citizens of Broken Hill. For example, 17 courses are provided in business and professional education; 13 courses for computers; 4 for photography and graphics; 18 for first aid, CPR and medical; 6 for hospitality; 9 for leisure; and 15 for occupational health and safety.
This college has supplemented education in Broken Hill, many of whom are retired, elderly people who wish to better understand computers. As a result, the college teaches a greater range of courses. As an indication of the importance of this college to the community, I handed the Minister for Education and Training a petition on behalf of my community. I note that the Minister is at the table and I acknowledge her support for community education. I am sure she has a view with respect to the proposed sale by Charles Sturt University and would agree that the loss of this facility would be a great loss to Broken Hill. The community does not have the financial means to buy the facility at the proposed price of $1.5 million. It is a pretty poor act for the university to charge $1.5 million for a facility for which it paid only $1, especially when the community will lose such a wonderful adult education centre.