New Sale College should be State Budget top priority

Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester (right) with Sale College Principal, Brendan Staple. Work is continuing to try and secure funding for a much-needed new campus. Photo: Contributed

FEDERAL Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester says securing up to $40 million for a new Sale College is the highest education infrastructure priority in his electorate.

Mr Chester said he was supporting fellow Nationals MP and Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien in his efforts to fund the new school, which would be established on a greenfields site, east of town on Cobains Road.

Both MPs have met with concerned parents and senior staff members, who have been committed to establishing a new school on a single campus for more than five years.

“Danny did some great work to secure $3 million to develop the master plan and secure the site across the road from the regional indoor sports centre, but we need to see progress with capital funding in this year’s budget,” Mr Chester said.

“Across my electorate from Morwell to Mallacoota, this is the number one public school infrastructure project because of the poor conditions students and staff are currently experiencing.

“As a former student at the school, I don’t believe a split junior and senior campus is desirable and establishing a brand new school would deliver significant long-term cost savings and provide better educational outcomes.

“Moving the school would also provide opportunities to re-use significant parcels of land on York Street and in Guthridge Parade for housing and other activities.”

Mr Chester toured the junior campus in Guthridge Pde last week, and was critical of the conditions on offer for students.

“It’s a 50-year-old school which is beyond its useful life and there’s no point attempting to refurbish those facilities when an entirely new school is required,” he said.

“There’s structural damage to some rooms, safety risks associated with asbestos building materials, and it can’t be repaired with a few coats of paint and a maintenance program.

“Joining the junior and senior campuses together on a single site will also deliver benefits for students to see first hand how young leaders are developed with role models an important part of their education journey.

“I don’t understand how the state government can tell students they should all work hard and value education, and then demonstrate such a complete lack of respect for the facilities on offer at Sale College.”

Mr Chester said funding the new school was a state government responsibility, and he would continue to support his state parliamentary colleagues.

“While the federal government gives money directly to the states for education, it’s up to the State Minister (Ben Carroll, also the Deputy Premier) to decide the spending priorities in the Budget and we need to get Sale College to the top of the list,” Mr Chester said.

“There are plenty of schools which need work across the Gippsland electorate, but Danny O’Brien has my full support in lobbying for Sale College to receive a major grant as soon as possible.”