House debates

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Constituency Statements

Richmond Electorate: Schools

10:21 am

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to update the House on the New South Wales Liberal-National government's cruel plan to close all four public schools in Murwillumbah. That's two high schools and two primary schools. They're closing all four schools, forcing them into one location, then selling off the remaining sites to developers. Make no mistake, this is a very bad decision by a very bad government, and the people of Murwillumbah are furious. The New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and her rotten-to-the-core government forced this decision on the community with absolutely no consultation and no warning at all. On 28 October, the New South Wales education minister, the Nationals Sarah Mitchell, along with her Deputy Premier, the Nationals John Barilaro, and the north coast Nationals MPs Geoff Provest and Ben Franklin stood outside Murwillumbah High School and announced this whole decision as a done deal. They arrogantly announced it and then ran away. They just ran off.

Since then, not one single Liberal or National—not one of them—has had the courage to front up to town and face anyone on this issue. In contrast, we in Labor have stood with the locals. We've been constantly on the ground, listening to and fighting for the families, the students, the teachers and our community. I'd like to thank and acknowledge the fact that we've had recent visits from our federal Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, the New South Wales state Labor leader, Jodi McKay, and the New South Wales shadow education minister, Prue Car. The Labor state member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin, has been an incredibly strong advocate for our community, and the Labor deputy mayor of Tweed Shire, Reece Byrnes, recently moved a successful motion at Tweed Shire Council opposing these unfair school closures. It's important to note that two councillors from Tweed Shire councillors actually voted to support closing the four schools. They were the Liberal James Owen and the National Warren Polglase.

The New South Wales Premier, her ministers, her MPs and her representatives on the Tweed Shire Council all want to close these four schools. What a shameful, weak bunch of community vandals! That's all they are; they are vandals, each and every one of them. We now know the Premier and her mates have been secretly planning this since February. These actions are disgraceful, shameful and wrong. The closures will result in severe job losses and worse educational outcomes for our children. I challenge any of these Liberals and Nationals to come to Murwillumbah and debate this vital issue. To date they haven't shown up because they're all so weak. These closures are all about them selling off prime real estate rather than educating our children. They're trying to make a profit at the cost of our children's education. All this is being done by a rotten government with no integrity. The concern is: which school in our region is next? Which school is on the hit list? These vandals have no values and no integrity, and we will continue to fight these bad decisions.


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