THE Barnett government is already considering sites for an inner-city high school, says Liberal Perth MLA Eleni Evangel.
Responding to Opposition leader Mark McGowan’s decision to distance Labor from a new high school in the Liberal strongholds of the western suburbs in favour of one in the hotly-contested Perth electorate, Ms Evangel revealed the government has already considered the soon-to-be-vacant Princess Margaret Hospital site in Subiaco or the education department buildings next to Wellington Square in East Perth as potential sites.
There’s no funding for the school on the horizon, with the education department committed to an $84 million upgrade of the former City Beach High School to take pressure off Churchlands.
“The fact is we need both, the new western suburbs school now and an inner city school in the near future as well,” Ms Evangel said.
The Voice understands the East Perth site is the favoured option, with Wittenoon Street likely to be closed so the school could link directly to Wellington Square across the road.
But Mr McGowan doubts the government’s education plans, saying that despite promising $182 million to upgrade City Beach and expand Shenton college, Carine high school and several primary schools, the government’s budget was $94 million short. He says they should be focussing on the growing inner city over the western suburbs.
“If you drive there from here, that’s nine kilometres away,” Mr McGowan said.
“The real pressure is in suburbs like Mount Lawley, Perth, Highgate, Mount Hawthorn, North Perth; that’s where lots of families are moving into, that’s where there’s a lot of pressure,” Mr McGowan said.
Shadow education minister Sue Ellery said inner-city schools like Mercedes, Trinity, and St George’s were some of the oldest in the state and were built on small plots of land, so Labor would be looking to build more schools in high density areas.
But Ms Evangel says Labor’s plans would be a “kick in the guts” to families in Mount Hawthorn and Leederville who can’t get into an already crowded Churchlands, while the remaining funding would be announced in the government’s mid-year budget report.
“What this has done is destabilised families and households, because it’s unclear if a Labor government is elected whether we’ll have a western suburbs school at all,” Ms Evangel said.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM