Turnbull & Mathews: Uni Melb Rent “morally unconscionable”

Posted by savevca1 on February 24th, 2010

It may have taken 10 months, but the truth of VCA’s financial situation is rapidly coming to light. Further to today’s coverage in The Australian,  Crikey have revealed that a supplementary submission to the VCAM Review by Turnbull, Mathews, Denton & Landy details that an independent audit of VCA’s property value is estimated at $230m.

The UoM charging the VCA $6 million a year rent for a site, gifted to it, worth $230 million is morally unconscionable. If the rent is added (at constant current values) to the capital value above the UoM will have ended up with assets and transfers worth more than $500 million over the next few decades in return for the $5 million transfer imposed on it for a few years.

Furthermore, former Chairman of the Australia Council and former VCA Council Member, Rodney Hall has weighed in to the debate in his submission, suggesting the value of VCA is even higher:

My three main reasons for re-entering the debate are as follows:

 1.  To correct the notion that the motive for the merger, from the VCA’s point of view was to ‘broaden the courses’—during my years on the council the proposition of a merger was never raised prior to the axe-blow of the Nelson reforms.

 2.  To refute any implication that the VCA was not responsibly managed while it was independent. Quite the contrary, the old VCA delivered quality training in arts practice on the funding granted it—meagre though that was, in my opinion—without any ongoing deficit.

 3.  To point out that one contextual fact is conspicuously missing from the issues as laid out in the present discussion paper: the real estate value of the VCA campus. To put the university’s $5 million outlay per annum in perspective, the VCA campus, based on valuations commissioned by the VCA Council three or four years ago, must now be worth well in excess of $400 million.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Peter Garrett & Julia Gillard when will you DO something?

Meanwhile the Victorian Greens have raised questions in Parliament about whether the VCAM Review Committee (to whom all these submissions go to) are even capable of objectivity in the review process. This is in line with SAVE VCA’s concerns that only 2 members were elected to their position. The Greens also questioned the rental scheme back in November 2009 and are still waiting for an answer from the Vic Government.

Post your thoughts below.


  • Read the original Turnbull, Mathews, Denton & Landy submission here.
  • Read the Turnbull, Mathews, Denton & Landy supplementary submission here.
  • Read the Crikey article here.
  • Read the Hall submission here.
  • Read all submissions published by the Uni to date via our previous post here.
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4 Responses to “Turnbull & Mathews: Uni Melb Rent “morally unconscionable””

  1. Tips and Rumours section of Crikey on 26 Feb had some uninformed comments about the submissions to the VCA review. I don’t think the writer realised that the submission date was set outside of semester (no students there), and that there is some risk associated with submitting under your real name. Perhaps someone from this forum could respond to the Crikey article.

  2. concerned musician

    So if I understand this correctly, the University of Melbourne effectively owes the VCA at least $230 million, if it wishes to use any of the associated buildings, and then rent them out back to VCA. It seems that the University has effectively stolen this prime real estate with a huge cover up….correct me if I’m wrong.

  3. Concerned Musician – yes it is highly concerning to SAVE VCA that even though the University inherited $103m of assets upon merger (now estimated closer to $230m), the University chooses to present VCA as financially crippled, being propped up by University subsidy. This review is reflected in many Discussion Paper submissions (including SAVE VCA’s) which call for a full financial audit of VCA pre-merger to present to reveal the financial truth.

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