NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli has come under attack for refusing to consider supporting a high school for the fast-growing Pottsville area on the Tweed Coast.
A long-running campaign by parents at Pottsville for what they say is a desperately needed high school has met with stiff opposition from National Party MPs, including Mr Piccoli and Tweed MP Geoff Provest, who eight years urged parliament to start planning for the facility but who has since backtracked.
And National Party-aligned councillors on Tweed Shire Council (Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne) have consistently backed the developer of Pottsville’s Seabreeze estate, Metricon, in its move to sell off land long earmarked for the high school for more housing.
This week, NSW Labor released the official transcript of parliament’s budget estimates showing the Nationals continue to reject a high school at Pottsville, with Mr Piccoli repeating the mantra that official figures say the demand for one is not yet there.
But parents say population growth due to increasing urbanisation of the Tweed Coast warrants a new high school, and NSW Labor supports them.
Labor’s north coast spokesman Walt Secord said Mr Piccoli a week ago told him in the budget estimates hearing that he stood by his education department’s advice refusing to support the school because ‘enrolment numbers in the neighbouring high schools are not sufficient to warrant the construction of a new high school’.
Mr Piccoli said he had visited Pottsville Beach Public School ‘a couple of times and met with the Parents and Citizens’ and Mr Provest had raised the issue with him ‘a number of times’.
‘The advice remains that there is not sufficient demand to warrant the construction of a new high school,’ Mr Piccoli said.
Mr Secord this week slammed the latest refusal, saying residents of Pottsville and the Tweed had ‘put their faith in Nationals MP Geoff Provest and he has let them down time and time again’.
‘With a housing estate of more than 4,000 homes (Kings Forest) approved recently, Pottsville is in desperate need of a high school,’ Mr Secord said.
‘Some school kids have to travel for more than two hours on bus to get to school in Murwillumbah, Kingscliff or Banora Point, yet Geoff Provest still thinks we don’t need a school.’
Echonetdaily has asked for comment from Mr Provest, who told media earlier this year that ‘current secondary enrolments across the Tweed were in decline and building a new high school in Postville at this stage would cause students to move away from Kingscliff’.
In January the Tweed MP said that ‘planning is under way and while there is no definitive date set, Pottsville will get this high school, but now is not the right timing’.