For­mer mayor faces so­cial me­dia back­lash

Tweed Daily News - - NEWS - Camp­bell Gel­lie

A FOR­MER Tweed mayor has re­moved all fly­ers and so­cial me­dia posts urg­ing stu­dents to leave school to protest for ac­tion on cli­mate change.

Mur­willum­bah busi­ness owner Gary Bag­nall was of­fer­ing the chil­dren a free lunch at his New Leaf Cafe if they joined the Big School Strike Day planned for this Fri­day. It in­cluded an ad­dress by cur­rent Tweed mayor Katie Milne.

“The strik­ers will be do­ing a lap around the town with ban­ners and signs and fin­ish at Tweed Coun­cil build­ings, where the mayor (Katie Milne) will give an ad­dress,” the so­cial me­dia posts read.

“Stu­dents can re­turn to school af­ter lunch.”

How­ever, fac­ing a back­lash from the com­mu­nity, all the ma­te­rial has been re­moved from so­cial me­dia pages.

When con­tacted at his cafe, Mr Bag­nall de­clined to come to the phone, in­stead telling an em­ployee to say it was not “this Gary Bag­nall”.

Tweed coun­cil­lor Warren Pol­glase said it was ir­re­spon­si­ble of Mr Bag­nall

to call on the stu­dents to walk out on school.

“If he wants to demon­strate against cli­mate change that is his right, but he has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the chil­dren first and would have to ask the par­ents be­fore they can do that,” he said.

“I don’t think too many par­ents would want their kids walk­ing down the main street of Mur­willum­bah

when they should be at school.”

A NSW Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion spokesman said schools were neu­tral places for ra­tio­nal dis­course and ob­jec­tive study.

“While the NSW Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion un­der­stands some stu­dents are pas­sion­ate about this topic, all stu­dents who are en­rolled at school are ex­pected to at­tend that

school when­ever in­struc­tion is pro­vided,” the spokesman said.

In NSW, stu­dents can be ab­sent from school if they are sick, have an un­avoid­able med­i­cal ap­point­ment, are re­quired to at­tend a recog­nised re­li­gious hol­i­day or an ur­gent fam­ily cir­cum­stance.

If they wish to leave dur­ing school hours they need a pass.

PHOTO: FILE

NO FREE LUNCHES: For­mer Tweed mayor Gary Bag­nall of­fered a free lunch at his cafe for stu­dents who walked out of school to protest for more ac­tion on cli­mate change.

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