The coalition government has been accused of blocking the release of North Coast school enrolment figures to avoid building a new high school on the fast-growing Tweed Coast, and breaking an election promise.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest this morning said a new high school was no longer needed on the Tweed Coast and that building one would lower the number of HSC subjects taught at Kingscliff High School because student enrolments across Tweed shire were now falling.
But NSW shadow special minister of state, Walt Secord, said Mr Provest promised a new high school for the community and was now ‘hiding behind the education department’ which was trying to block information from being released.
Mr Secord that he had lodged a freedom of information request on the enrolment figures but was asked by the department to ‘reduce the scope’ of his application as the department claimed it would take 92.5 hours at $30 an hour to process the application, a total of $2,775.
‘However, a leaked three-page internal document to Tweed Shire Council dated December 24, 2012 shows the information was already contained in a single document,’ Mr Secord told Echonetdaily.
‘The data does not cost $2,775 to locate. This is simply another attempt by the O’Farrell government to block the release of information and to avoid honouring its election promise.
‘The data exists and is easily accessible as the department has already provided data in 2011 on the subject.
‘The fast-growing Tweed Coast from Fingal to Pottsville is currently serviced by one high school at Kingscliff and students are travelling great distances just to get to classes.’
Mr Secord said he had been seeking information about the push for the new high school at Pottsville by residents who have been asking for years, given the growing number of young families moving into new suburbs such as Seabreeze near Pottsville.
Mr Provest told ABC North Coast that he had taken his advice about student numbers from local P and C organisations.
‘The current level of senior enrolment across the whole shire has been falling and we are monitoring that, and the latest projected figures have been provided by the P and C at Pottsville and I’d rather be guided by the local P and C,’ the National Party MP said.
Mr Provest claimed building a new high school would have a ‘negative effect’ on the number of HSC subjects taught at Kingscliff High School by lowering them from 47 to 35.
‘So the overall education outcomes for our kids in our town would be considerably less than what it is at moment,’ he said.