SOS calls on Government to abandon ‘sham consultation’

Save Our Schools today called on the ACT Government to abandon its ‘sham consultation’ scheduled to start today (Monday 24 Sept) and adopt a more community-friendly approach.

“With the first district meeting due to start today, it’s unacceptable that many interest groups have been invited but no serious attempt has been made to invite, or even advise, local residents,” according to SOS spokesperson, Jane Tullis.

“Local residents in communities where schools have closed must have the opportunity to guide any discussion on future use of their sites, but at the moment it appears they are being deliberately excluded,” Mrs Tullis said.

“Groups with no reasonable claim over local sites have been invited but most local residents do not even know these meetings are on. The government has restricted community involvement by not ensuring the events were adequately advertised, by holding the meetings far away from the affected communities and running them for three hours across most people’s dinner time.”

“A public notice buried in Canberra Times two days before the first meeting is simply inadequate advice for consultation on an issue of such importance to the affected local communities.”

“It appears that the Government is simply using consultants to try to extract some sort of agreement for what it has already decreed. The second stage of the process will again pit community against community as they each battle to retain theirs among the small number allowed for relevant community use.”

The Government has already decided (in the consultants brief) that:

  • at least 5 schools sites will be disposed of
  • only a total of 4 (whole or part) schools can be retained for use by the community
  • future use cannot be as a school
  • future use cannot be as open space
  • revenue for ACT government is one of the factors.

“The ACT Government has a moral obligation to protect all these sites for this and future generations rather than mandate their disposal or try to gain agreement for their re-development.”

“Under the guise of ‘housing affordability’ and new compact housing policy, the ACT Government seems to have all the measures in place to easily carve up community sites and sell large chunks off to developers,” Mrs Tullis said. “Once TAMS declares the sites surplus, they can be handed over to Planning Minister Barr who, with a majority government, can easily move through a formal variation to the Territory Plan.”

For example the majority ACT Government can:

Save Our Schools calls on all communities to demand that this process be radically improved and placed back into the hands of the true owners of these assets, the local communities,” Mrs Tullis said. “The only way to do that may be to register for this week’s meeting, turn up and speak up.”

The district Options meetings are as follows:

Monday 24 September
Uniting Church Hall – Cnr Sternberg Cres and Comrie St Wanniassa
5.45pm for a 6.00pm start to 9.00pm.

Tuesday 25 September
Marathon Room Australian Institute of Sport – Leverrier Cre Bruce
5.45pm for a 6.00pm start to 9.00pm.

Thursday 27 September
Olympus Room, Hellenic Club – Matilda St Phillip
5.45pm for a 6.00pm start to 9.00pm.

To register you need to call 6257 1511 or
FormerSchoolSites@purdon.com.au”

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