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Byron Shire
October 3, 2022

Did someone pocket a Murwillumbah school’s rebuild funds?

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East Murwillumbah Public School, yet to recover from the 2017 floods.

If not, where are they?

Recently Lismore MP Janelle Saffin arranged for Shadow Minister for the North Coast to the meet the East Murwillumbah Public School P&C Association President Soenke Biermann.

Now he’s asking who pocketed the money budgeted to rebuild the flood-damaged facility?

Ms Saffin asked the Minister, Mr Adam Searle, to raise the issue in the NSW Upper House, frustrated that her Questions on Notice to NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell MLC had been met with totally inadequate responses.

‘The NSW Government clearly has broken its earlier promises to build a new library and four classrooms destroyed by major flooding in 2017 and has treated this school very poorly by only providing temporary demountables,’ said Ms Saffin.

‘My inquiries have revealed that the Government is not in any great rush either and only intends to start the school upgrade in mid-2021, meaning that full completion maybe five years after the flood event.’ 

Mr Searle last week directed a Question Without Notice to Minister Mitchell, asking when will the upgrade and the replacement of the library and four classrooms be delivered to the students and families of Murwillumbah East.

Minister Mitchell’s response was: ‘I am aware that Murwillumbah East Public School was impacted by flooding not long ago. The Leader of the Opposition has asked for a timeline of the project’s completion. I will take the question on notice and come back to the honourable member with an answer in due course.’

‘Government has clearly had a brain failure’

Mr Searle said the Government has clearly had a brain failure because the former member for Lismore, Thomas George, confirmed there was money in the 2018-19 State budget to address the damage to Murwillumbah East Public School.

Mr Searle told the House he had accepted an invitation from Ms Saffin to visit the school and met with the P&C, which confirmed that no works had been done at the school to permanently replace the lost library and four classrooms. 

‘So who trousered the money? Where did it go? Why must that community wait four to five years to have the repairs done?’ Said Mr Searle. 

‘A student at that school who was in kindergarten in 2017 will be in Year 4 when work begins – if in fact work does begin in the middle of 2021.

‘The Government has comprehensively failed that school and it is disappointing that, despite the correspondence to and from the Minister, she was unable to give an answer today about when this upgrade will be delivered.’

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