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Labor ignores Pilbara student safety concerns

The Nationals WA have accused the Education Minister of “papering over the cracks” at Hedland Senior High School after allocating just $500,000 to fix a litany of infrastructure issues at the South Hedland campus.

Education spokesperson Peter Rundle brought attention to the problems facing Hedland SHS last year when he publicly detailed the findings of an internal report which concluded it was “inevitable” there would be a “serious” injury to a staff member or student due to a “multitude of risk situations”.

At the time The Nationals called on the McGowan Government to provide Hedland SHS with urgent funds to ensure student safety wasn’t compromised.

However Leader Mia Davies said $500,000 would barely scratch the surface.

“Classrooms are falling apart at the seams – students and staff are at risk – and yet the most the Government can do is provide a paltry $500,000,” she said.

“If classrooms in Rockingham or Mt Lawley were in a state of such disrepair the Labor Government would be falling over itself to provide large amounts of cash to fix the problem. 

“Sadly for both Pilbara students and teachers, they are victims of circumstance. If it’s outside of Perth it’s out of mind for the McGowan Government.”

Mr Rundle said the Labor Government was spending $68 million on a new inner-city college in Subiaco, yet schools across regional WA had been waiting years for basic infrastructure upgrades.

“Hedland SHS is just one of hundreds of regional schools in urgent need of work, whether it be decaying classrooms, gyms, pools or just dilapidated play areas and footpaths,” he said.

“It’s frustrating that regional students and teachers are not only forced to contend with the tyranny of distance but also second-rate – and in some cases, dangerous – facilities.”

Member for Mining and Pastoral Region Jacqui Boydell said the school needed at least $10 million to be brought up to code.

“The McGowan Government recently announced a $175 million windfall from the sale of its shareholding in Property Exchange Australia,” she said.

“Treasurer Ben Wyatt gloated in a media statement that every last cent of this revenue would be ploughed into Metronet.

“The Nationals argue that guaranteeing the physical safety of school students is a much more appropriate spend of taxpayer dollars than a Labor election commitment to build extra train stations.”

The last major cash injection at Hedland SHS was when The Nationals invested $22.4 million between 2012-2014 while in Government.