You could be forgiven for thinking the opening of CIT’s new Tuggeranong campus was being held to honour of former ACT Education Minister Joy Burch, such was the praise showered upon her this morning.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Higher Education, Training and Research Minister Meegan Fitzharris and CIT chair Craig Sloan were the speechmakers, but all focused their opening remarks on Ms Burch’s role as the instigator of the CIT facility’s development and her commitment to making it happen.
The Chief Minister said it was an important day for CIT and for Tuggeranong.
“This project is something that we’ve been very keen to deliver for this community, and no one has been more passionate or persistent or more consistent in her support for this project than Joy Burch,” Mr Barr said.
“Joy has led this argument within the Labor Party and within our cabinet and within our Government over a number of years, to see top quality CIT facilities brought into the heart of the Tuggeranong Town Centre, and Joy, I’m delighted that you can be here to celebrate this occasion.
“It was your passion and your advocacy that has resulted in this outcome. There wasn’t a cabinet colleague, there wasn’t an Assembly colleague, who wasn’t aware of Joy’s passion for this, so it’s wonderful to be here to see a fantastic finished product.”
Ms Fitzharris said she would also like to “very much acknowledge Joy”.
“Everything that the Chief Minister has said is true for Joy’s extensive track record in the Assembly and right here in the heart of Tuggeranong as well.”
Mr Sloan said he was delighted to share the microphone with the Chief Minister, the Minister, “with Joy”.
“I must say with Joy, when we probably had our first conversation as an incoming board and with me as incoming chair and we were told about the Tuggeranong campus that we had to deliver, I was worrying whether this was a gift or whether this was going to be a challenge that we were going to struggle to fulfil,” the CIT chair said.
“I’m delighted that your vision has prevailed, Joy, and you knew exactly what you were talking about, and I thank you very much, as the Chief Minister said, for your passion in really driving this through.”
Ms Burch, who represents the Tuggeranong seat of Brindabella in the Assembly, was invited to join with Ms Fitzharris and Mr Barr for the official plaque unveiling that marked the opening of the facility.
She later issued a statement saying the project was “the culmination of work over many years by the Tuggeranong community who fought for a institute of higher education in our region.
“I am extremely proud to be here today to see this vision realised,” she said.
The former Minister resigned from cabinet earlier this year after a controversy over her office’s dealings with the CFMEU. She announced her resignation from the Ministry at a press conference just down the street from what is now the new CIT campus, saying at the time that she was quitting to focus her efforts on her constituency of Brindabella.
Ms Burch said today that the campus was the most modern teaching facility for CIT in Canberra, and would provide the opportunity for hundreds of students of all ages to learn new skills, and improve existing ones.
“CIT Tuggeranong will provide courses in business, early childhood education and care, programming, library and information services, vocational pathway courses, forensic science, management, travel, and many more courses in varied and diverse areas.
“After championing this project for many years I am excited to see how the students that use this new facility contribute to the Tuggeranong community in the years to come”.