The McGowan Government has been criticism over its cuts to the state’s education, with opposition parties claiming the measures are not in the best interests of students and families.
WA’s Greens called the measures a “terrible decision” while the Young Nationals said it was “direct attack on regional Western Australia” after Education Minister Sue Ellery said it was a necessary budget measure after the government’s gold royalty was rejected.
“It’s a really terrible decision and I’m calling on the minister to consider reversing them,” Greens education spokesperson Alison Xamon said.
“I’m the first one to admit knowledge that we’ve got a bit of a budgetary crisis at the moment and I also am mindful that it was my party that also supported the gold tax.”
“But this is not the way to remedy the deficit that’s been left in the budget.”
The cuts will include the closure of Schools of the Air (SOTA) with regional and rural education to be taken over by The School of Isolated Distance Education (SIDE).
Six camp school sites run by the Department of Education and residential colleges in Moora and Northam will also close, with 170 jobs set to go.
Funding for Landsdale Farm School will end with the intention of providing an alternative provider.
In Perth, Tuart College will be repurposed while Canning College will begin focusing on providing programs for only international fee-paying students.
Intake for the Level 3 teacher program will be on hold until 2020.
Funding for Gifted and Talented programs at 18 schools will be reduced by 25 per cent.
Fees for Vacswim holiday swimming lessons will also more than double after minimal fee changes over the past 14 years. A 10-day program will cost $30 from $13.50, or $20 for families with a concession card.
Ms Xamon said the cuts short sighted.
“A whole range of really important services, a diversity of services which have been established for very good reason are now being lost,” she said.
“I think it’s a mistake and I think that we’re going to see the impact of this for a long time to come.”
WA Young Nationals Vice President Siobhan Blake said WA’s Labor government had “betrayed regional voters”.
The former School of the Air student said the cuts would severely affect the education of children in regional WA
“It is a direct attack on regional Western Australia,” she said.
“They won’t have the support that these schools of the air provide from a regional perspective,” she said.
Ms Blake said the government had overlooked regional people.
“I think Labor should have a good hard look at themselves,” she said.
“They’ve looked at these isolated families and thought that there isn’t a majority vote around there, so it doesn’t matter,” she said.
Ms Ellery said while it would be tough, the measures were needed after calling for WA
“This has not been easy, but tough decisions have had to be made to get WA’s finances back on track to fix the mess left by the previous Liberal-National government,” she said.
“We’ve asked all parts of the community to help contribute to budget repair – the public sector, business, industry, individuals and families.”
“Unfortunately, the Liberals and Nationals blocked a reasonable change to the gold royalty rate, and chose to protect profitable gold miners from doing their bit.”
However, Ms Blake said the government had an opportunity to reverse the measures.
“There should be a chance to stop the cuts,” she said.
“Labor can stop the cuts and they can make decisions to find funding elsewhere.”