Tweed Shire Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes (Labor) called for the decision to close four schools in Murwillumbah to be reversed.
‘I’m calling on my fellow Tweed Councillors to strongly support this motion. This decision by a broken and scandal-ridden NSW Liberal-National government is devastating for students, parents, and teachers in our community,’ he said.
‘This closure will spell certain doom for children’s education in our shire, and will likely mean job losses for our hard working teachers.’
Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) told Echonetdaily that she attended yesterdays announcement even though she hadn’t been invited and had only heard about it through a third party.
‘I expressed to both the Deputy Premier, Minister Mitchell, and the Board of Education representatives there, my disbelief that a decision like this could be made with no consultation with the community,’ Mayor Cherry told Echonetdaily.
Another dodgy government land grab?
Local member for Lismore Janelle Saffin (Labor) said that the NSW government has ‘blindsided the North Coast communities of Murwillumbah and the surrounding suburbs with the closure and sell-off of three public schools.’
Ms Saffin confirmed that Department of Education documents obtained through the Upper House reveals that the amalgamation of four schools in 2024 will change the staffing allocation and potentially displace teaching and support staff.
More broken promises
‘The Liberals and Nationals promised an upgrade of Murwillumbah East Public School before the last election. Instead, they will now abandon their promise and close the school completely,’ she pointed out.
Shadow Minister for the North Coast Adam Searle MLC said, ‘Now we know why the Premier and the National Party have been stalling on replacing the library and classrooms lost at Murwillumbah East Public School in the floods.
‘Despite all their hollow promises, it seems that yet more privatisation is their true agenda, not delivering for students and families in Murwillumbah.
‘This decision has been made without consultation. It has all the signs of a dirty land deal, and is not about improving educational outcomes.’
Federal Labor member Justine Elliot has also weighed in on the debate saying that ‘these closures are disgraceful, shameful and wrong. Gladys Berejiklian and her rotten-to-the core Liberal-National government have cut so many services in Murwillumbah and now they’re closing all four schools.
‘These closures are all about the Liberals and Nationals selling off prime real estate to their developer mates rather than educating our children.
‘These closures come on the top of the Liberal-National Government’s cuts that have severely impacted Murwillumbah including the closure and sale of the Murwillumbah TAFE; cuts to front line services at the Murwillumbah hospital; cuts to police numbers and the closure of the Tweed Valley Women’s Service.
‘In the past weeks we’ve seen shocking evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) confirming that Premier Gladys Berejiklian turned a blind eye to the corrupt business dealings of her boyfriend, Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, and didn’t report this to ICAC.
‘Now we’re seeing a shameful act of school closures by the Premier and the Liberal-National government – they’re a disgraceful rotten Government with no integrity,’ Ms Elliot said.
Motion to council
Deputy Mayor Byrnes says he wants Tweed Shire Council ‘to write to the Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and National Party Tweed MP Geoff Provest condemning their decision and has put a motion to the Tweed Shire Council for them to call on the state government to .
‘The motion condemns the NSW Berejiklian/Barilaro Liberal-National Government’s decision to close all four schools in Murwillumbah and force them into one location. The motion also calls on the NSW Berejiklian/Barilaro Liberal-National Government to reverse this disastrous closure.’
Mayor Cherry has told Echonetdaily that she has ‘asked for figures on the positive outcomes of the similar school in Ballina as that would be good for the community to see.
‘It is very hard to understand how this will work on the Murwillumbah Highschool site, to spend $100m dollars redeveloping a site while it continues to operate for the 440 or so students attending there, so I would be very interested to hear the details on this and how the traffic and parking issues in particular will be addressed.’
Keep land in community hands
The choice by the NSW Liberal-National coalition to close the schools without community consultation has been roundly condemned.
‘This decision has been made without consultation. It has all the signs of a dirty land deal, and is not about improving educational outcomes,’ says Mr Searle.
‘Despite all their hollow promises, it seems that yet more privatisation is their true agenda, not delivering for students and families in Murwillumbah.’
‘This cannot be a cruel cost-cutting exercise,’ Ms Saffin said.
‘I am also seeking a guarantee that public land stays in public hands and is not flogged off to private developers.’
Tweed Deputy Mayor’s motion:
1. Tweed Shire Council condemns in the strongest terms the decision by the Berejiklian/Barilaro Liberal National NSW Government to close all four schools in Murwillumbah and force them into one location.
2. Calls on the Berejiklian/Barilaro Liberal National NSW Government to immediately reverse this decision.
3. Tweed Shire Council writes to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Tweed Nationals MP Geoff Provest expressing condemnation for their decision to close all four schools in Murwillumbah and force them into one location.