Coastal communities challenge cuts

Janine Kitson
Relief Organiser

Mid North Coast protesters marched along their scenic foreshores to join the rest of the country condemning the Abbott Government’s Budget cuts during the last weekend of August.

Port Macquarie protesters stopped in front of Lyne MP David Gillespie’s office to express their disgust at how the cuts to Gonski and TAFE funding targeted the region’s most vulnerable children and young people.

The Port Macquarie march concluded with a round of speeches highlighting how the Budget cuts would have a devastating impact on the mid North Coast’s education, health, welfare and environment.

The Mid North Coast has the sixth highest unemployment rate in NSW with fewer jobs available than the number of jobseekers.

Teachers demanded that Mr Gillespie start demonstrating his responsibility to ensure all members of his electorate will be provided with equal opportunities to access well-funded, high quality public education at schools, TAFEs and universities.

Federation Executive member Phil von Schoenberg highlighted how the cuts would have a serious, long term and negative impact on the ability of all Mid North Coast schools to be lifted to a standard that would ensure a quality education for all students, and particularly for those students in need. He reiterated that the Gonski cuts would severely impact on the students of regional NSW.

TAFE Organiser Kathy Nicholson called on the people of Port Macquarie to demand that state MP Leslie Williams honour her pre-election promise to protect TAFE which she signed before the last NSW election.

Coffs Harbour TA President Deanne Ion chaired the Coffs Harbour event. Narranga Public School principal Michael Trist spoke on behalf of the Primary Principals’ Association about the critical need for the full six years of Gonski funding and TAFE TA Councillor Adam Curlis spoke about the urgency of ending the devastating assault on TAFE.

Ms Ion said teachers were well represented at the Coffs Harbour march. “Gonski and TAFE were strongly supported. Rural areas know how important education is,” she said.