12 . “Freo doctor” blows across Marrickville and Balmain
Alex Mitchell writes:
Community protest is rising in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Marrickville over the Labor Government’s proposed sale of the former Enmore Superior Public School.
An avalanche of protest letters and signed petitions have been sent to Education Minister Verity Firth in an attempt to halt the auction which is scheduled for July 17.
The Planning Department has sanctioned the conversion of the heritage-listed school, built in 1887, into 19 swish apartments.
The threatened school is in the Marrickville electorate of Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt, who is also the Environment Minister, while Ms Firth holds the neighbouring electorate of Balmain.
The sell-off was first proposed by the so-called “Education Premier”, Bob Carr, and his Education Minister John Aquilina using demographic statistics which were cooked by bureaucrats within the Education Department.
To lose the school to private developers in 2009 when the area is expanding and education facilities are at a premium would be a tragedy, according to the local Save Our School protest group.
Marrickville Greens councillor and SOS supporter Cathie Peters said letters, petitions and emails had been sent to Ms Tebbutt and Ms Firth but no response had been forthcoming.
“This is an indication of the systemic problems within the State Labor government where Ministers think they are unaccountable to their constituents and routinely ignore the genuine concerns of local communities,” Cllr Peters said.
She said the area desperately needed space for schools, pre-schools and TAFE now and in the future.
Both Ms Tebbutt and Ms Firth are high-profile members of the NSW Labor left. The dominant right-wing faction seems to take vicarious pleasure from conducting civic war in their electorates. Can you imagine State Cabinet agreeing to the sale of a public school in the heartland of one of the right-wing power brokers? It wouldn’t happen and, if it did, it would be rolled at the first opportunity.
Greens councillors hold sway on Marrickville and Leichhardt Councils which are in the state electorates held by Tebbutt and Firth. Both MPs are menaced by the rising influence of the metropolitan Greens, the formidable electoral force which recently stole the WA state seat of Freemantle from the ALP.
The “Freo doctor” is blowing across Marrickville and Balmain and the two vulnerable MPs have decided their best strategy is to pretend not to hear the drumbeats from the jungle.
[Read more about the Enmore School sale here.]