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March 3, 2024

Prioritise North Coast schools over Sydney stadiums: Labor

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Ballina High School was targeted last night by vandals. Photo Plakau
Ballina High School. Thousands of North Coast students face schooling in ageing classrooms or demountables while the government spends $2.5bn on rebuilding two stadiums. Photo Plakau

NSW Labor has slammed the National Party for supporting what it describes as an ‘obscene misdirection of priorities’, saying it is ‘spending $2.5 billion on rebuilding Sydney stadiums when North Coast hospitals and schools desperately need the financial support’.

NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley and Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord said the Nationals were ‘completely out of step with the needs of the community’, preferring to ‘spend billions in Sydney while rural and regional communities receive second-class health and education services’.

Mr Foley said the North Coast schools and hospitals are ‘going begging’ after the Liberal- National state government committed ‘an obscene $2.5 billion on knocking down and rebuilding Sydney stadiums.’

He said the decision would directly affect North Coast school children who ‘face years of being taught in demountables or in classrooms with leaky roofs and broken toilets’.

Mr Foley said he would ‘not allow this obscene amount of money to be spent on a couple of Sydney stadiums.

‘This is money that should go to schools and hospitals; they come first and will always do so under a Labor government.’

Mr Secord said the decision would ‘do nothing to help the almost 5,000 patients on the North Coast who have been waiting months for elective surgery.’

‘We have thousands of elderly patients waiting in pain for knee and hip replacements while the state government spends more than $2.5 billion on stadiums.’


According to Labor the following wait times apply across the Northern NSW Local Health District:

  • The median waiting time for non-urgent elective surgery is 285 days – with some patients waiting nearly a year;
  • There are 4,996 patients waiting for elective surgery (as at 30 June 2017);
  • At Lismore Base Hospital, the median waiting time for non-urgent elective surgery is 328 days. The waiting time for a total knee replacement is 329 days;
  • At Lismore Base Hospital, there are 1,783 patients waiting for elective surgery (as at 30 June 2017).


Labor says that:

  • Across the region the maintenance backlog for schools is $2.5 million;
  • There are 40 schools in the region that are at 100 per cent capacity;
  • There are 137 demountables in the region’s schools.


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  1. The political football in the air is that the game of Rugby was invented at the British boy’s school named Rugby so schools in the colony should receive money before any football stadiums. To replace the stadiums is just not cricket.

  2. It may be a valid point to criticise the new stadium, but not proceeding with it will not solve the myriad health education and other state spending problems of NSW and the rest of Australia. Trying to tax multinationals and high income earners will not generate the revenue needed either. Unless Labor and the Greens support broad based taxation increases – particularly bringing GST to the 15% or so level normal in European countries – neglect of critical infrastructure at the State and Council level will continue.

    And I am not sure of the relevance of a photo of the old Ballina High building; the NSW Government is rebuilding the High School.


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