Wednesday, 28 October 2020.
THE Berejiklian-Barilaro Government’s planned closure of three schools to create a $100-million amalgamated Murwillumbah Education Campus at Murwillumbah High must come as a complete shock to these school communities, according to Lismore MP Janelle Saffin.
Ms Saffin said the snap announcement of the MEC by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell now demanded full and frank consultation with teaching staff, the NSW Teachers Federation and Parents and Citizens Associations.
“NSW Labor obtained a briefing paper to Minister Mitchell which reveals that the amalgamation of four schools to form the MEC in 2024 will change the staffing allocation and potentially displace some teaching and support staff,” Ms Saffin said.
“I am seeking a guarantee from the NSW Government that all current teaching and support staff jobs will be retained under this shake-up of public education in Murwillumbah because this cannot be implemented as a cruel cost-cutting exercise; it must be about improved educational outcomes.
“I am seeking guarantees that any proposed change is only ever based on the needs of our children. That means better educational services and opportunities, state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and better support for students with disabilities.
“I also am seeking a guarantee that public land stays in public hands and is not flogged off to private developers.
“While the Department of Education may have consulted with principals, I can only imagine how our local school communities are feeling about such massive planned changes.
“Schools are not just buildings, but the repositories of culture, memories, aspirations, experiences and friendships — all things that shape lives.
“Now we know why the Minister for Education was putting off the 2018 promised budget upgrades to Murwillumbah East Public School, so devastated by the 2017 catastrophic floods.
“Minister Mitchell rang me just before the announcement to confirm it to me that the project will be over $100-million-plus and has promised that I will be fully briefed and consulted. I need to be across all of this so that I can properly represent the views, feelings and aspirations of our school communities and our entire community.”
Ms Saffin added that it was a shame Mr Barilaro, as Leader of the NSW Nationals, did not take the opportunity while visiting Murwillumbah to make the following announcements for the town and our region:
- A $45-million local business support fund for those impacted by the border closures, as he did for the NSW southern border businesses impacted by border closures.
- The Nationals’ election promise to provide 280 more nurses, 32 doctors, 38 allied health staff and 50 more hospital workers with some for Murwillumbah Hospital.
- The restoration of major contracts to our local businesses, who recently lost their contracts under Mr Barilaro’s big city-big company procurement policy, to remove waste from our Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown reserves.
- The upgrade of the Voluntary Buyback House scheme to help with flood protection.
- The upgrade to a 24/7 police presence in Murwillumbah.
- The reopening of the Murwillumbah Women’s Refuge closed by the Nationals.
- The restoration of the Murwillumbah Court services closed by the Nationals.
- The announcement of our region’s share of the unspent $1.7 billion Restart NSW Fund, as promised by the Nationals.
- Reversing the new practice of Essential Energy ‘gifting’ power poles to farmers and private landholders, which they must pay to maintain if deemed unsafe.