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Ellery again proving to have a tin ear when it comes to regional education

The Nationals WA have lashed out at Education Minister Sue Ellery for refusing to meet with concerned families over Labor’s plan to rip hundreds of thousands of dollars from a vital education trust account.

Education spokesperson Peter Rundle said the College of Agriculture Narrogin Parents and Citizens Association had written to Minister Ellery inviting her to Narrogin.

The P&C was seeking a face-to-face discussion about Labor’s plot to swipe 20 per cent of funds from the Agricultural Education Farm Provisions Trust.

“The Minister’s reply was that if the families wanted her time they needed to make the five-hour round trip to Perth,” Mr Rundle said.

Trust income is generated through student-driven commercial productivity at WA College of Agriculture school sites in Cunderdin, Denmark, Harvey, Morawa, Narrogin and Esperance SHS Farm Training Centre.

“As she has done with her ill-fated proposal to terminate School of the Air, shut Moora Residential College and lock the gate on five regional camp schools, the Minister is once again thumbing her nose at regional students and families,” Mr Rundle said.

“Time and time again this Minister has shown she has no interest in, or respect for, what transpires within her portfolio outside of the metropolitan area.”

The trust account funds farm fleet vehicles, machinery, licensing and insurances, fencing and other recurrent costs, easing the cost burden to the State Government and making sure students have access to a contemporary and safe learning environment.

Since 2002 it has allocated $8.4 million to contributing colleges. It has also provided more than $850,000 promoting and supporting agricultural education programs at 10 other public schools around WA since 2007.

“Given the Minister intends to rip hundreds of thousands of dollars away from agricultural colleges, she should at the very least have the decency to look students, parents and school board members in the eye to explain her actions,” Mr Rundle said.

“I call on the Education Minister to get out of her West Perth office and heed the request of the Agriculture Narrogin Parents and Citizens Association to meet with the group in Narrogin.

“Failure to do so will further enshrine this Minister’s anti-regional reputation.”