School repair funds dismissed as token

Daneka HillThe West Australian
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The $500,000 pledged to Hedland Senior High School by Education Minister Sue Ellery has been denounced as a token gesture to a campus which needs more than $10 million of urgent repairs.

The North West Telegraph reported in December that principal Bill Mann had blasted the condition of the campus and said it needed urgent repairs.

Mr Mann said the issues included deteriorating buildings, hazardous and open drains, no outside undercover area, lack of shade structures, substandard toilet blocks and changing rooms for staff and students, broken concrete paths and uneven paving.

Ms Ellery said the State Government would allocate $500,000 for urgent work in the first half of the school year.

But Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco said half a million dollars was “pocket change” compared to what was needed.

“The reason why these government assets get to this condition is because there is a complete lack of investment in the infrastructure,” he said.

“Because we are in a remote area, out of sight, out of mind, the Government just neglects infrastructure like that because the community doesn’t kick up about it and then, clearly, where there is no squeaky wheel, there is no investment in those areas.”

WA Nationals Leader Mia Davies said the Government was “papering over the cracks” at the school.

“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,” she said.

“Sadly for both Pilbara students and teachers, they are victims of circumstance — if it’s outside of Perth it’s out of mind.”

Ms Ellery said the funding was allocated for “urgent preventative works” and would be completely used before the middle of the year.

Mr Mann declined to comment.

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