House debates

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Constituency Statements

Dobell Electorate: Central Coast

9:50 am

Photo of Craig ThomsonCraig Thomson (Dobell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to talk about what I spoke about here last week—that is, the Central Coast being recognised as a region in its own right. It is a topic that needs more than one three-minute constituency discussion and that is why I am using this opportunity now to do so again. The Central Coast has over 300,000 people but our institutions are constantly divided between Sydney and Newcastle. Last time I spoke about some state government institutions in particular that need to change. The area health service is part of the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service when it should be the Central Coast area health service and the state school and education system is part of the Hunter-Central Coast education service, so you can see there the confusion that people on the Central Coast have. For some state government institutions we are part of northern Sydney and for others we are part of the Hunter. People on the Central Coast want to have their own identity, and it is this something that I am strongly urging the state government to do something about.

The state government also made a mistake this week in that they did not appoint a local politician as the Minister for the Central Coast. They appointed the Premier instead. An announcement that was made yesterday goes some way to mitigating that in that the very hardworking and good member for Wyong, David Harris, was made a parliamentary secretary for the Central Coast. I know that he will do everything he can to help push the regional identity issue. That has mitigated it some way but, again, it was a mistake.

Today I also want to raise some other areas that need to change. We have a great university campus on the Central Coast. It is called the Ourimbah campus of the University of Newcastle. One would think that one of the things that we could do rather quickly is at least change its name to the Central Coast campus of the University of Newcastle and then look over time to develop a university in our own right on the Central Coast. The issue is not just symbolic. It has a great effect on people being able to identify that this is a place of higher education—TAFE, community college and university—that is the Central Coast’s, and it is something that the university needs to look at.

I again call on the two councils which divide the Central Coast to work more closely together. We had the fiasco of their not being able to agree on how the water supply, which is common to the Central Coast, operates. That has caused all sorts of problems. We had different water restrictions in different parts of the Central Coast. In the last couple of seconds I have I would also like to congratulate Bob Graham and Lisa Matthews on being voted in as Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Wyong Shire Council last night.

Comments

Caroline Cox
Posted on 16 Oct 2009 12:16 pm (Report this comment)

I am so grateful that you raise this important issue. I am a student at the "Central Coast" Campus and a student representative. We are also very concerned at present about the range of courses available in the Social Science degree at Ourimbah. The Business faculty has also suffered from cuts and changes and many students are leaving or transferring. This is also a consequence of not being a recognised region and relying on handouts from the Callaghan Campus. There are numerous students who are having difficulty finishing their degrees and who are petitioning to get courses and lecturers down here only to be told 'no' without any explanation. Getting to Callaghan is not realistic for mature aged students with time, financial and familial responsibilities - also a problem for lecturers to come here from Newcastle. Public transport is also not reliable for parents with school aged children to get home to on time. The idea of a video link to facilitate classes at Ourimbah was almost dismissed outright in favour of a recording online of classes from Ourimbah. This is inferior and not ideal and is saying really, go and do correspondence education, don't come to Ourimbah Campus for social science. The integrity of our degrees are at risk. If Newcastle Uni is offering social sciences at Ourimbah, they need to fulfill their obligations to students there. Thanks for your time and the opportunity to communicate. C

Kris Gesling
Posted on 20 Oct 2009 2:41 pm (Report this comment)

Good to see there are more people at Ourimbah who are experiencing similar things. There is also the problem that even if more lecturers went to Ourimbah there aren't enough buildings to adequately run the number of classes they have now. Already the lectures are overcrowded which not only makes it harder to learn but is an OH&S issue.

I'm glad the Federal Government boosted uni funding after Howards decade of decay but it was just a drop in the ocean to make up for what he did to our education system. We need more funding for education across the sector to ensure that Australia stays at the forefront of innovation. We've been lucky with the resources boom but that won't last and has a devastating impact on our natural environment.