Hurlstone Agricultural High School

04 April 2017

Private Members’ Statement

Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) (12:53): Everybody is accountable to somebody, but when it comes to accountability there are a number of problems with this Government, one of which is the Minister for Education. Like many on this side of the Chamber, I go to quite a bit of effort to ask concise and unambiguous questions. Question No. 4754 on the Question and Answers paper is a case in point. It is a simple question with five subparagraphs, yet I am left completely astounded by the answers provided. In fact, they are non-answers; just more government spin. The important questions I submitted on the Hurlstone Agricultural High School were, at best, not fully understood or, at worst, completely ignored.

If it is the latter, it smacks of ministerial arrogance and a Minister who does not believe he is accountable to the Parliament and to the people. If it is the former, comprehension is clearly not the Minister for Education's forte. Given his portfolio, that is somewhat ironic. I recommend that he brush up on his comprehension skills. To this end, I refer him to the Department of Education's Super Six Comprehension Strategies website. Interestingly, the first comprehension strategy is making connections. Clearly, the Minister is out of touch and makes no connection with the Macquarie Fields electorate, its students and its families. He fails to see how the loss of the Hurlstone Agricultural High School and its farm at Glenfield will have an enduring and devastating impact on my community. The Minister does not connect because he simply does not care.

The second strategy is predicting. Is the Minister too afraid to predict what may happen if Hurlstone is finally uprooted from its home at Glenfield and moved to Hawkesbury? Is he also afraid that it might expose the Government's appalling backflip on Hurlstone as a farce that undersells the future educational opportunities of south- west Sydney's young people? The third strategy is questioning. The Minister is not interested in delving any deeper into my questions; nor is he interested in considering them more fully. Why? Because the true answer would expose the unsuitability of the proposed deal. It would also show that the Government is not—I repeat, is not—expecting to achieve the integrated outcome that it anticipated. The fourth strategy is monitoring. If something does not make sense, we should stop, reread and think about it to try to understand the meaning. Despite the ongoing inherent shortfalls revealed by the Government's own officials, the Minister is not having a bar of it and has his spin machine on the job—end of story.

The fifth strategy is visualising. Painting a picture in one's head helps to bring the text to life, requires imagination and uses all of the senses. The Minister is visualising only the developers' for sale signs and dollar signs. The sale of the Hurlstone Farm is nothing more than a greedy land grab; it is not about educational outcomes. On the flipside, sadly I am visualising the irreversible loss of our vital green open space, the loss of one of Sydney's last fully functioning urban farmlands, and the loss of an educational icon that consistently ranks as one of this State's best-performing high schools. My vision is no great stretch of the imagination. What I see coming is more urban splatter, more congestion, and a community sold out by the Liberal Government's appalling duplicity.

The last strategy is summarising. That is the ability to notice the most important things in the text and to put them in one's own words to demonstrate an understanding of what has been read. This is where the Minister comes completely unstuck. My five-point question received his standard short, glib response. That is shameful. The Minister should not pretend that his highly workshopped answers will suffice: They will not. My electorate deserves answers, proper answers, not workshopped spin—as does this House, which is Australia's oldest Parliament.