Min­is­ter faces protest heat

Countryman - - NEWS - Rueben Hale

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Sue Ellery has ruled out a La­bor back­down to keep Moora Res­i­den­tial Col­lege open, de­spite pres­sure from the Iso­lated Chil­dren’s Par­ents’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

Ten­sion filled the air at the 46th an­nual State ICPA con­fer­ence in Fremantle last week, just days af­ter a mass rally to save the col­lege was held at Par­lia­ment House.

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

In a heart­felt ad­dress to del­e­gates, ICPA vice-pres­i­dent Liz Sud­low ac­cused Pre­mier Mark McGowan and other La­bor MPs of ar­ro­gance, lack of un­der­stand­ing and to­tal dis­re­gard for re­gional West Aus­tralians.

“La­bor’s de­ci­sion to cut fund­ing to agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion is dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend and the idea to close Moora Res­i­den­tial Col­lege is an in­ter­est­ing one,” she said.

“The fact that the State Gov­ern­ment has not done a build­ing re­port shows they don’t even want to gain the points to make an in­formed de­ci­sion.

“They refuse to con­tem­plate any de­gree of com­pro­mise, which may lead to a work­able so­lu­tion.”

But Ms Ellery, who spoke at the con­fer­ence, said the de­ci­sion to close the col­lege would stay.

“We knew that Bud­get re­pair would mean mak­ing some tough de­ci­sions and I do re­gret that it has caused some fam­i­lies un­cer­tainty and anx­i­ety,” she said.

“How­ever, tough de­ci­sions though they are, they had to be made.”

Ms Ellery said the cuts to lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion, in­clud­ing the clo­sure of the col­lege, were un­avoid­able af­ter the pre­vi­ous Lib­eral-Na­tional gov­ern­ment left the State with the worst set of fi­nan­cial books since World War II.

“The Lan­goulant re­port (the in­quiry into pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment spend­ing led by for­mer State trea­surer John Lan­goulant) showed the reck­less­ness with which the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment made fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions, and that has left us with no room to move,” she said. “This is a se­ri­ous ef­fort to save money across the board and if we ap­plied that logic to ev­ery sin­gle de­ci­sion, then no sav­ings would be made.”

Ms Ellery said cost­ing doc­u­ments re­leased to Par­lia­ment de­fied the Shire of Moora’s claim that the col­lege could be re­tained for $500,000.

“They got their $500,000 by tak­ing the ex­ist­ing $350,000 main­te­nance bud­get of the col­lege and $160,000 from a 2012 build­ing con­di­tion re­port,” she said.

“They’ve added those num­bers to­gether to come up with a fig­ure around $500,000 and that is not a sus­tain­able, le­git­i­mate or rig­or­ous as­sess­ment of what those fa­cil­i­ties need to be vi­brant and grow­ing into the fu­ture.”

We knew that bud­get re­pair would mean mak­ing some tough de­ci­sions ... Sue Ellery

Pic­ture: Rueben Hale

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Sue Ellery speaks at the 46th an­nual State ICPA con­fer­ence in Fremantle last Fri­day.

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