Road rage over Moora axe
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.
A convoy of trucks helped push home the message at the rally.
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.