House debates

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Statements by Members

Bean Electorate: Norfolk Island

1:33 pm

Photo of David SmithDavid Smith (Bean, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

While it only takes me 10 minutes to drive to Parliament House, the furthest corner of Bean is 1,800 kilometres away: Norfolk Island. As you can imagine, the pandemic challenges have provided an additional layer of isolation and economic uncertainty to the Norfolk community, but it is a strong community that works together.

The issue of provision of education and health services, currently contracted to the New South Wales government, is of critical concern to the Norfolk community. The existing contracts run out in July 2021, and the New South Wales government has for some time indicated it's withdrawing its services. No providers have been agreed. In correspondence with the minister and in meetings last year, I raised concerns that uncertainty around the provision of education services would have an impact on the students and community well before the 2021 deadline. Since then, there have been no updates from the minister despite the rising anxiety amongst students, parents and staff alike. A Year 11 student wrote to me, noting, 'All of my teachers that stay next year have been offered a six-month contract,' and, 'The uncertainty in the school is affecting me, my family, my friends.' They are asking for help.

The situation has now reached crunch time for both education and health services, and we need to see leadership now. The teaching staff have been put in an awful situation and may vote with their feet. This would be devastating for the community and could have been avoided if the government had valued the needs of this community properly.