Private Member's Statement
Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) (18:34:10): It is an annual tradition that has been bringing a touch of the country to the city for 80 years, but now Hurlstone Agricultural High School's Country Fair and Farm Open Day at Glenfield is under threat. Why? Because the Liberal Government has decided to sell off the Hurlstone Farm, home of the country fair, to developers. This appalling decision formed part of a deal the Liberal Government struck with Western Sydney University in late 2015 to move Hurlstone Ag from its current home at Glenfield to the Hawkesbury campus. It was an announcement with much fanfare; there was even talk of a tethered cow. But that foolish idea was soon shelved. Why? Well, you see there would be no dairy at the new school in Hawkesbury. That is right—no dairy means no cows.
There are more than 100 cows at Hurlstone Ag in Glenfield. The cows' fate remains to be seen with Hurlstone set to move to Hawkesbury. It turns out they will be sold, gifted or slaughtered. So it is goodbye to the cows, another great Hurlstone tradition lost. The cows have long been a drawcard to Hurlstone's country fair. But in a telling sign of the fair's imminent demise, there appeared to be no cows at this year's fair. That is right, no cows at a country fair, despite the school at Glenfield having a fully functioning dairy.
The Liberal Government has shamelessly run Hurlstone Ag and its annual country fair into the ground. You see, the decision to move Hurlstone Ag to Hawkesbury was completely inconsistent with and contradictory to the bill introduced into the Parliament by the then Liberal-Nationals Opposition in 2009. The backflip on this issue is breathtaking and ripe with hypocrisy. Those opposite have gone from being Hurlstone's defender to being its destroyer. My local community has, quite rightly, been outraged by the Government's decision on Hurlstone. Often politicians lament the lack of public trust in our political system. Sadly, decisions such as this Liberal-Nationals Government backflip on Hurlstone only add to this level of disengagement and distrust.
The same can be said of the Liberal Government's high-rise plans for Glenfield, which are also shrouded in secrecy. To date the Liberal Government has failed to disclose how many rooftops will replace the green open space at Hurlstone, nor has it disclosed the proposed heights of high-rise flats set to block the Glenfield skyline. Feedback from my constituents is clear. They want local students to have access to an outstanding agricultural high school and they want the invaluable greenspace on Hurlstone's farm—140 hectares, no less—to be saved from developers.
It is almost four years since the Government's appalling decision to move Hurlstone Ag to Hawkesbury and sell off the farm, but I have not given up the fight. I will continue to stand up for my community, just as I will continue to hold this Liberal Government to account for its lies, spin and shameful hypocrisy. I will not allow the Liberal Government's continuous spin to dupe us into believing we are getting a better outcome. The truth is, we are not. When the bulldozers turn the first sod of earth, it will all be too late, just as it will be too late when the farm gate finally shuts on the Hurlstone Country Fair—a fair that, just like Hurlstone at Glenfield, has a long and proud tradition in our community. Our community will pay the price for this Liberal Government's duplicity and greedy land grab. It is the Hurlstone name and tradition at Glenfield that we value, which for close to a century has been an intrinsic part of our community's history and heritage. So I continue the fight to save Hurlstone and its farm.
In doing so, I requested in May a meeting with the New South Wales Minister for Education to discuss the future of Hurlstone Ag at Glenfield. I have yet to receive a response on a meeting date. After 80 years, the final Hurlstone Country Fair is looming and my community will mourn its loss, just as we will inevitably mourn the loss of Hurlstone and its farm at Glenfield. As a cattle auctioneer would say, "Going, going, gone", only this time the auctioneer is the Liberal Government and the highest bidder is greedy developers that run the agenda. The Hurlstone farm and the school belong at Glenfield, their rightful home. I will not give up the fight. My community members have made it very clear that they will not stand for the Liberal Government's out-of-control development agenda at the expense of our green space, community heritage and suburban character. The country fair will soon be a distant memory of a bygone era, all thanks to this greedy Liberal Government and its sneaky land deals. But I simply will not stand for it, nor will my community—hands off Hurlstone!