The Liberal Government’s lies and spin on its plans to move Hurlstone Agricultural High School to the Hawkesbury are unravelling, new information obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) has revealed.
The documents disclose that under the Government’s deal with Western Sydney University (WSU) only 3.5% of teaching and learning space at the university is suitable for shared use by the school. In a shocking admission by the Department’s own Project Reference Group, there would be no sharing of WSU classroom facilities.
It has also been revealed that the university’s resources are not conducive to meeting the needs of high school students, with specialist laboratories not complying with specifications for junior students and lecture theatres unlikely to form part of a day to day timetable. All up, only five rooms – without any modifications – are fit for high school students.
The alarming findings have prompted the Member for Macquarie Fields, Anoulack Chanthivong MP, to label the Liberal Government’s Hurlstone deal with WSU as “fundamentally flawed” and a “farce”. Mr Chanthivong has been fighting to save the Hurlstone Farm and retain the school at Glenfield since the Government first announced the deal in late 2015 in a backflip worthy of a gold medal.
“We’ve been duped! The sale of the Hurlstone Farm is nothing more than a greedy land grab. It was never about educational outcomes for our community,” Mr Chanthivong said.
“The much-hyped deal with the university was supposed to deliver shared access to state-of-the-art and cutting-edge facilities. But the more the truth emerges, the more the Liberal Government’s dud deal unravels,” Mr Chanthivong said.
“It’s time for the Government to come clean and apologise to our community for its appalling duplicity.”
Mr Chanthivong has vowed to continue the fight to save the Farm and retain the school at Glenfield.
“The loss of Hurlstone Agricultural High School and its Farm at Glenfield will have an enduring and devastating impact on my community. I appeal to the Minister for Education to act now to save Hurlstone before it is too late.”
Mr Chanthivong requested an urgent meeting with the Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, on 6 February 2017 to discuss the future of Hurlstone Agricultural High School. When he finally received a response some eight weeks later, Mr Chanthivong’s request was refused and referred to departmental officers.