Hurlstone Agricultural High School - Private Members' Statement

08 March 2016

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) [12.53 p.m.]: About seven years ago the following words were uttered:

I think (Premier Rees' plan to sell most of the school land) is disgusting.

These were the words, seven years ago, of then shadow education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, in his defence of Hurlstone Agricultural High School at Glenfield and his unequivocal opposition to the then Government's plan to sell off some of Hurlstone's educational farm. He said the plan was disgusting. Approximately seven years later, on 18 November 2015, Adrian Piccoli—no longer the shadow Minister but the Minister—said the following:

We will sell the farm at the existing Hurlstone Agricultural High School.

I have thought long and hard about my response to the Minister's announcement that day. In all honesty, I cannot improve on his words seven or so years ago: disgusting. There is no other word for it. This Minister's plans are plainly and simply disgusting. So are his hypocrisy and his duplicity when he cried foul over the plans to sell off Hurlstone's farm. His contempt for my community is also disgusting—to lull them into believing he was a friend of Hurlstone and its farm—

Mr Kevin Anderson: Point of order—

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG: Stop the clock, Mr Temporary Speaker.

Mr Kevin Anderson: The member for Macquarie Fields is clearly casting aspersions on the Minister, who is not in the Chamber. I ask the member to withdraw his comments.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Bruce Notley-Smith): Order! The member is entitled to address matters relevant to his electorate, but I ask him to be mindful of his use of words concerning the Minister.

Mr Kevin Anderson: Further to the point of order—

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Bruce Notley-Smith): Order! I have ruled on the point of order.

Mr Kevin Anderson: Point of order: The member for Macquarie Fields has said they were the Minister's words but, in fact, he was using his own words to describe what the Minister said.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Bruce Notley-Smith): Order! I again remind the member to use accurate and truthful words when addressing the Chamber.

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG: I seek an appropriate extension of time.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Bruce Notley-Smith): Order! I will extend some latitude.

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG: Is it any wonder that our profession is so lowly regarded when the likes of the Minister for Education are eroding public trust? Why are his plans so disgusting? The Minister's duplicity, backflip, betrayal, hypocrisy and treachery are disgusting but—

Mr Kevin Humphries: Point of order: I ask that the member return to the leave of private members' statements—namely, to discuss issues about a member's electorate, not to cast reflections on other members and/or Ministers.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Bruce Notley-Smith): Order! I uphold the point of order. I remind the member for Macquarie Fields that he is entitled to talk about matters pertaining to his electorate, but he should not be critical of other members.

Mr Kevin Humphries: Point of order: I am happy for the member to have the clock stopped. I was at Hurlstone in 2007 and we prevented that. I would encourage the member to talk about Hurlstone and where it is going in the future.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Bruce Notley-Smith): Order! There is no point of order. The member for Barwon will resume his seat. The member for Macquarie Fields has the call.

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG: I have lost almost two minutes now. I seek an extension to reflect that loss of time. I will now go through the Minister's plans. First, his plans will destroy forever valuable green space. This green space acts as a vital buffer to prevent ever-encroaching urban sprawl and splatter. South-west Sydney is drowning from congestion and over-development. Selling the Hurlstone farm will only exacerbate this already dire situation. My community needs more green space, not less. Secondly, his plans rip out of my community one of the finest selective high schools in the country—a school that has produced, nationally and internationally, a legion of community, sporting, cultural, political and academic leaders. To argue, as the Minister does, that a non-descript no-name selective high school at Glenfield can possibly replace the history, heritage and prestige of Hurlstone is a little delusional. The Minister would not try to raise such an argument elsewhere.

Thirdly, the Minister's arguments are disgusting because they deny my local students the opportunity to study agriculture at a serious level. To suggest that students in south-west Sydney will make a one-way journey of almost two hours—and sometimes more—to Richmond to study agriculture every day is unimaginable. Further, why should students in my electorate be denied the opportunities afforded to students in the Hawkesbury catchment? Currently, four schools within that catchment offer agriculture—Windsor, Colo, Hawkesbury and Richmond. Richmond High School, according to its prospectus, has one of the highest performing agriculture show teams in New South Wales. So there are no shortages of opportunities for students to study agriculture in the Hawkesbury catchment. This is a clear example of the Minister picking winners and losers. Fourthly, his plans are disgusting because—like the true political spin master he is—the Minister is using sleight of hand and deception to sell his deeply flawed argument.

Mr Kevin Humphries: Point of order—

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Bruce Notley-Smith): Order! I have extended the member for Macquarie Fields some latitude. He will conclude his remarks.

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG: In conclusion, the Minister said one thing when in opposition and has done exactly the opposite when in government. He has gone from Hurlstone's defender to its destroyer. Sadly, that sums up his whole behaviour. [Time expired.]