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Local mum and Medowie resident, Marnie Coates, has appeared before a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry this morning to advocate for a desperately-needed public high school in Medowie.

Ms Coates, a chemical engineer, told the Inquiry that she is a passionate advocate for public education, and is a proud product of public education herself.

In her evidence to the committee, Ms Coates said the current situation was unfair for local students and families: “We bus over a thousand students out of our suburbs to high school every day, and some of them are travelling over two hours per day on buses to get to school.”

Ms Coates also raised the rapidly growing population in Medowie: “There’s a thousand properties currently approved and under construction, and Council predicts that by 2036, there’ll be an additional seven thousand dwellings in Medowie. Besides that, the surrounding satellite suburbs that would logically be zoned for a Medowie High School are also rapidly expanding.”

“The land has been purchased… we’ve had various promises, but nothing’s been delivered to date,” said Ms Coates. The Hon. Courtney Houssos MLC, a member of the parliamentary committee, said during the hearing: “The Catholic system and the independent system have acknowledged there’s a need, and they’ve stepped in, but it’s the public school system that isn’t providing local options for parents.”

“You have a clear need, you have a site, you’ve had consistent promises from the government, but they’ve completely failed to deliver,” said Mrs Houssos. Local MP, Kate Washington, praised Ms Coates for her appearance before the Inquiry as well as her written submission (available here). “It’s not often that local residents are willing to appear before a parliamentary inquiry and fight for their local community. But that’s exactly what Marnie has done today, and she did us all proud.”

“The current situation is not fair, and Marnie was speaking for thousands of families across Medowie, the Tilligerry Peninsula, Karuah, Williamtown and Salt Ash, who desperately want a public school in Medowie,” said Ms Washington. During her testimony, Ms Coates rejected the government’s plan to expand the two public high schools in Raymond Terrace instead of building a high school in Medowie: “Any expansion won’t even meet the current projected growth, so we’re going to end up with a bad situation for our kids.” “I can only assume, from a financial perspective, that it’s cheaper for the government to stick a few more classrooms onto those schools than it is to properly plan the infrastructure that’s needed for Medowie,” said Ms Coates.

Ms Washington agreed: “The Liberal Government is ignoring the needs of our community, and our children, by taking the cheapest option and failing to deliver on their promise from 2011.”

“They’ve had eleven years to deliver a public high school in Medowie, but they haven’t. It’s clear the only way we’re going to get the school built is for a change of government next year,” concluded Ms Washington.


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