Today, the Shadow Minister for Lands Mick Veitch MLC and the Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison MP called on the Berejiklian Government to reveal their plans for the abandoned Hunter River Community School site.

The Government has been stalling over the future of the site for some time.

Labor said the future of publicly owned land was under threat with the Berejiklian Government’s obsession with asset fire sales.

In October 2015, Ms Aitchison asked a Question on Notice to the then Minister for Education. In his response, the former Minister advised that the Government had not decided what to do with the site. Ms Aitchison wrote to the Minister regarding the site in December 2015 requesting maintenance, and in February 2016 was advised that the future of the site was being reviewed, and if declared surplus would be returned to the Department of Primary Industries – Lands to manage. Ms Aitchison asked another question on notice about the future of the site and a time frame for a decision but was met with obfuscation.

A local resident recently contacted Ms Aitchison with their concerns that a lack of maintenance was creating a snake hazard due to long grass, and that it was a continuing eyesore for the community. In response to her representations, an officer from the Department of Education informed Ms Aitchison’s office that the parcel of land was no longer under the Department’s control, and was now being managed by Crown Lands.

Members of Maitland’s hardworking and vibrant community service and cultural groups including Rotary, the Maitland Regional Museum, the former Maitland & District Genealogical Society, the Telarah Men’s Shed, Maitland Embroiderers Group, Maitland Patchwork Quilters have all approached Ms Aitchison looking for permanent premises to hold meetings and exhibitions or provide services to the community in the last three years.

Parents and Citizens and service groups have also expressed an interest in the equipment on the abandoned school sites such as COLAs and playground equipment for upgrading schools with storm damaged equipment, or for providing infrastructure for community groups.

Mr Veitch condemned the Government for failing to maintain and expand Maitland’s community and social infrastructure, and for allowing pieces of Crown land such as the former Hunter River Community School to decay and deteriorate.

The Government’s controversial Crown Lands Management Act 2016, due to be enacted later this year, allows the Minister to transfer Crown Land to asset selling agencies like Property NSW without any community consultation.

Ms Aitchison is calling on the Berejiklian Government to allow the site to be used as a hub for vital community and social infrastructure.

Quotes attributable to Mick Veitch MLC, Shadow Minister for Lands

“Public-owned land is under threat by the Berejiklian Government ruthless obsession with privatisation”

“They have passed a new Act which allows them to transfer Crown Land to its own in house real estate agent, Property NSW, without any community consultation.

“The Government should be looking at community use rather than rushing off to sell.

Quotes attributable to Ms Jenny Aitchison MP, Member for Maitland

“It is unacceptable that the Berejiklian Government is allowing this piece of public land to become overgrown and fall apart. It seems the Premier is more interested in rebuilding two stadiums in Sydney than making over community owned facilities in order to assist our hard working community groups.”

“If this was a stadium in Sydney the Government would be falling over itself to rebuild it, but they just don’t care about regional communities like Maitland”

“Countless community groups in our electorate need a permanent space to hold regular meetings, store equipment and to run events. The Premier has a chance to show her commitment to social infrastructure within our state and allow the site to be used by the community.”

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