Newling Public School Hall
Mr TORBAY (Northern Tablelands) [6.23 p.m.]: I wish to place on record my support for the request by Newling Public School in Armidale for a new hall. Newling Public School is a family-oriented school which was established in Armidale in 1974. At that time a minimum number of classrooms were constructed, with plans for expansion at a later date. In 2000 a long-promised new library and two new classrooms were completed, replacing the temporary library's leaking roof and water-damaged books. I acknowledge the Government's contribution to those works. However, after 26 years the school remains without a much-needed hall and a network of covered walkways. Those facilities are now urgently needed at the school.
Recently I visited the school. At present, school assemblies and other get-togethers have to be held in two classrooms with a concertina partition between them. All the students' desks and other furniture have to be moved aside. That causes considerable disruption to teachers and students alike. More than 200 students, along with teachers, parents and guests, are then squeezed into an area that is totally unsuitable for the purpose. Adults are forced to sit in child-size chairs while the children sit on the floor. Any larger functions, such as school concerts, have to be held in another school's hall, resulting in unwelcome expense and inconvenience.
Music students have to practise in a small foyer outside the canteen. Larger touring productions cannot be brought to the school as there is nowhere for them to perform, thus depriving the children of many events that other schools enjoy. There is plainly a need for a building that is suitable for such activities and other creative arts presentations. The ability to present such activities in a formal function area complete with stage, proper public address system and professional lighting would greatly enhance these students' educational experience. Armidale has an extremely varied climate. Winter minimum temperatures can drop to as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius, while maximum daytime temperatures can be as low as five degrees.
Mr Fraser: Not as good as Coffs.
Mr TORBAY: As the honourable member for Coffs Harbour interjects, the weather in Armidale is not as good as the weather in Coffs Harbour. Snow and sleet in Armidale are not unusual. Summer temperatures can soar into the mid to high thirties. It is unacceptable that the children at Newling Public School should be expected to endure these extremes in temperature with no suitable area to protect them. The students should not be expected to spend their morning tea and lunch breaks in classrooms during inclement weather. That severely constrains much-needed free play and socialisation. They should also not be expected to walk in the rain, sleet or snow to and between classes.
All public schools are required to allow the public to avail themselves of their facilities. At present Newling Public School has little to offer in the way of such facilities. A hall would, therefore, increase the school's worth and usefulness, thus enabling the wider community to utilise a much-needed resource. Fundraising by the parents and citizens association—which, together with the school community generally, is hard-working—would also be enhanced, as a hall would enable more diverse fundraising activities to be held, thus creating additional benefits for the children and the wider school community. I acknowledge the recent announcement of the Minister for Education and Training of much-needed funding for many schools in the area. However, I ask the Minister to give consideration to the urgent need for the establishment of a hall and covered walkways at Newling Public School, which has been waiting for so long for these facilities.
Mr IEMMA (Lakemba—Minister for Public Works and Services, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Citizenship) [6.27 p.m.]: I commend the honourable member for Northern Tablelands for raising the establishment of a hall and additional facilities for the students, staff and community members at Newling Public School. I will pass on the honourable member's remarks to the Minister for Education and Training and ensure that the honourable member receives a response. I also place on record my appreciation for the way in which the honourable member raises important issues on behalf of his constituents.
Private members' statements noted.
[Mr Deputy-Speaker left the chair at 6.28 p.m. The House resumed at 7.30 p.m.]