Media Release 23 June 2008 – Government Divided on School Site Sell-Off

Monday June 23, 2008

Save Our Schools called on the Government to clarify its position on the sell-off of closed school sites. SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, said that statements by Government Ministers show that they are divided about the future of the sites.

“The Deputy-Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, said in today’s Canberra Times that the Government had not decided what to do with the school sites. She said that “we haven’t made up our minds on any site apart from Mt. Neighbour and Rivett” and that “everything was on the table” for the other six sites. She further stated on ABC radio that the “ACT Government has no plans to sell-off the green space”.

“These statements are clearly at odds with other statements made by the Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope and the Planning Minister, Andrew Barr.

“The Chief Minister told the Canberra Times in mid-2006 that closed school sites would be sold off for housing. Andrew Barr confirmed at the Estimates Committee hearing last month that it was government policy to sell off school sites.

“Mr. Barr, as Planning Minister, has prepared the way for land sales by amending the Territory Plan to remove the 4E overlay which protected the green space around all but two of the closed school sites from being sold off.

“Clearly, the Chief Minister and the Planning Minister do not believe that everything is ‘on the table’ in the current round of community consultations on the sites.”

Mr. Cobbold said that the Deputy-Chief Minister should clarify just what is ‘on the table’ in the current consultation.

“Is the Government ruling out any options for future use of the sites? Will the Government accept the preference of communities to retain the green space on closed school sites or is it intent on selling the land whatever the community says?

“We also well remember that it was Ms. Gallagher’s spokesman who told the Canberra Times before the last election that the Government had no plans to close schools. Yet, within two months of the election, the Government was planning the closure of Ginninderra HS and 18 months later announced plans to close 39 schools.”

Contact: Trevor Cobbold 0410 121 640 (m)

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