Acting NSW Opposition Leader Andrew Stoner and Thomas George MP say they have exposed the Rees Labor Government’s consideration of plans for a desperate fire sale of school land right across the State, including many throughout the Northern Rivers Region.
They said that a documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the NSW Liberals and Nationals revealed that a staggering 690 public school sites were deemed as being larger than is required and therefore ready for possible sale by the State Government.
“This figure equates to more than a quarter of the 2240 public schools in NSW and includes Barkers Vale Public School, Bonalbo Central School, Kadina High School, Lismore Public School, Murwillumbah East Public School, Murwillumbah High School, Richmond River High School, Wollumbin High School and Wyrallah Road Public School,” Mr Stoner and Mr George said.
“Working documents from the Department of Education and Training obtained through the Parliament have said that any public school site larger than three hectares and any high school site larger than six hectares is ‘deemed to be surplus’ and ready for possible sale.
“Education Minister Verity Firth has said she was unaware of the Departmental plans but has refused to rule out the sale of school land. She has not contested the fact the State Government is seeking more than $200 million in school land sales.”
Clarence MP Steve Cansdell says 12 schools in his electorate are included in the plan, which will meet fierce resistance from local parents.
The Clarence electorate schools are: Coraki Public School, Evans River Community School, Gillwinga Public School, Grafton High School, Leeville Public School, Maclean High School, South Grafton High School, South Grafton Public School, Yamba Public School, Casino High School, Casino Public School, Corindi Public School.
“This is about as low as you can go. We have a child obesity crisis, yet Labor’s education revolution now includes selling off school playgrounds to developers,” Mr Cansdell said.
“Labor might raise the $200 million it is aiming for but this land will have to be bought back as our population expands, and it will cost a whole lot more.”
Mr Cansdell said he would work closely with local stakeholders and his North Coast Nationals parliamentary colleagues to block the proposal, which would see land sold off from 34 public schools between the Clarence and the Queensland border.
Mr George said: “Education Minister Verity Firth has failed to rule out that a lot of this land is going to be sold.
“Verity Firth has tried to deny knowledge of these plans, but the fact is it was her own Department that created the plans to sell off large quantities of school land.
“Regions including the Lismore Electorate will not be spared, with over a quarter of NSW public schools having land deemed ‘surplus to requirements’.
“Nathan Rees must explain to the community why he has allowed the budget to slide into such a state that he needs to consider selling off school land in Port Macquarie.
“Residents in the Northern Rivers deserve better than a secret plan for a fire sale of public school land to prop up the ailing State budget.”