Road rage over Moora axe

Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Rueben Hale and Dy­lan Ca­porn

Farm­ers say the loss of Moora Res­i­den­tial Col­lege will have an ad­verse rip­ple ef­fect on the fu­ture pros­per­ity of the Mid West.

Moora res­i­dents and sup­port­ers marched from Lan­g­ley Park in Perth to Par­lia­ment House on Tues­day to protest the plan to close the fa­cil­ity, and were joined by a con­voy of 20 trucks, which drove along St Ge­orges Ter­race, be­fore head­ing to West Perth.

It fol­lows the rally at the same venue or­gan­ised by the Coun­try Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion last month.

Cen­tral Mid­lands Se­nior High School P and C pres­i­dent Tracey Er­ring­ton told the crowd the di­rect im­pact for the farm­ing com­mu­nity would be the loss of 26 board­ers, tak­ing with them about 22 fam­i­lies from the town.

“The num­ber of peo­ple af­fected doesn’t in­clude many oth­ers from Mil­ing, Watheroo and Dan­dara­gan, who will also be forced to leave due to the clo­sure,” she said.

Ms Er­ring­ton said the im­pact on farm­ing fam­i­lies could be cat­a­strophic as a re­sult of sep­a­ra­tion.

“Often one par­ent is left to run the farm with the other mov­ing to Perth so their chil­dren can at­tend school, which can often lead to the fam­ily per­ma­nently sep­a­rat­ing at the end,” she said.

Ms Er­ring­ton said the pas­sion in the com­mu­nity to re­tain the col­lege was wide­spread, with school stu­dents tak­ing the day off and lo­cal busi­nesses shut to show their sup­port.

“We’ve got peo­ple bring­ing their tip­per trail­ers in, we’ve got peo­ple bring­ing semis, we’ve got one of the lo­cal buses that is all painted up in the foot­ball club colours, peo­ple with their utes with a bit of chalk paint on it with the mes­sages,” she said.

Both Premier Mark McGowan and Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Sue Ellery have con­tin­ued to stand by the de­ci­sion to close the col­lege amid the harsh bud­getary cli­mate.

Ms Ellery ad­dressed the rally, amid boos and jeers from the crowd. At times, the protesters turned their backs on her.

“The de­ci­sion was the right one, there are al­ter­na­tives, and we’ve in­her­ited a sit­u­a­tion which has meant we’ve had to make some harsh de­ci­sions,” Ms Ellery said.

The State Govern­ment has ar­gued to con­tinue us­ing Moora Col­lege would re­quire a $9 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion to bring it up to stan­dard. But protesters have ar­gued the fig­ure is closer to $500,000.

Sand­stone pas­toral­ist Lana Le­froy and her daugh­ter Sena said the de­ci­sion to close the col­lege amounted to dis­crim­i­na­tion against coun­try chil­dren.

Sena is a Year 12 stu­dent at Cen­tral Mid­lands Se­nior High School and has been head girl at the col­lege for the two years.

“This de­ci­sion is go­ing to have such a neg­a­tive im­pact on Moora and the broader com­mu­nity, so we will con­tinue to protest un­til, hope­fully, com­mon sense pre­vails,” she said.

Mrs Le­froy said the clo­sure would be an­other dev­as­tat­ing loss for the coun­try, where there are al­ready lim­ited choices avail­able.

“No other high school be­tween Perth and Ger­ald­ton goes to Year 12, and they want to take away the hos­tel so there will be fewer stu­dents, which will im­pact on the school and TAFE funds,” she said.

Col­lege head boy Andy Penny, who lives on the fam­ily’s Coorow farm, said the Govern­ment would keep the col­lege open if they cared about ed­u­cat­ing all stu­dents re­gard­less of race or where they came from.

Andy’s mother Saman­tha said it was im­por­tant to the fam­ily Andy was as close as pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially given he would be study­ing ATAR sub­jects next year.

Pic­ture: Ian Munro

A con­voy of trucks helped push home the message at the rally.

Pic­ture: Rueben Hale

Sand­stone pas­toral­ist Lana Le­froy with daugh­ter Sena, who is head girl at Moora Col­lege, at the protest rally held on the steps of Par­lia­ment House.

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