Jones sets Minister straight on Murrumbateman school figures

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I am disappointed you have not accepted my personal August 2015 invitation and that of local member, the Honourable Pru Goward to visit Murrumbateman and learn firsthand of our community’s genuine need for a local school for 600+ primary school age children.

I implore you one last time to meet with myself, Ms Goward and Regional Development Minister Mr John Barilaro, who will both be visiting Yass Valley later this month on the 23rd of November. It is hoped Cross Border Commissioner Mr James McTavish will also be in attendance, such is the importance our representatives place on education in Yass Valley.

I must also advise you of my personal view that the Department of Educations’ latest “review” of Murrumbateman’s needs, contains errors of such magnitude and lack of diligent investigation, I consider it reaches the bar of reckless negligence towards our community. I would advise an immediate audit of process and procedure and I strongly suggest all Education department planners and demographers involved in the writing of that document meet with Yass Valley Council’s Planning Director as part of a more thorough and accurate review.

As an example; the departmental executive summary includes the statement that the entire LGA of Yass Valley (current pop. 17210+) will include growth of only 350 NSW government school students by 2031. Conservative projections from consultants .id the population experts has the LGA student growth at +514 to 2309 primary school children and +453 to 1879 secondary students. The grossly understated population of Murrumbateman used for the department‟s review (2850) must erroneously be the older village border and not the 4000+ strong town and district which local government acknowledges now as Murrumbateman for social and economic planning.

I am sure you appreciate that our community can no longer sustain your support of the NSW Education Department’s legacy of withholding a local primary school – at all cost.

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Since 2012 I have been one of many voices earnestly advising you and the department that a primary school is desperately needed and justifiable for the growing town of Murrumbateman and surrounding district.

Murrumbateman is projected to grow to 6,399 by 2031 residents and this conservative figure is likely to be upgraded following recent subdivision and successful grants for water and sewage infrastructure projects (sewage is now under construction).

Close to 50 per cent of Yass Valley’s working population work outside of the LGA (3998sq km) yet early childhood is strongly supported and growing with three extra preschools and child care centres opening in Yass within the last 12 months and another expected to open in Murrumbateman in 2016. This is in addition to the existing Mecca pre-school and home day care businesses already operating in Murrumbateman.

Results from a formal community survey and earlier work done by Department of Education Planners projected strong pull back from the ACT if a local school was built, similar to that experienced in the highly successful Jerrabomberra construction. The recent department review provided no sound science to refute this earlier work yet deleted the projection as it did not support the denial of a school. I consider this a reckless and sub-standard effort from our public service.

Murrumbateman’s popularity as a cheaper market entry for home buyers and preferred residence for ACT commuters seeking a rural residential lifestyle fuels Yass Valley‟s high growth trend with a notable quantity of 17.3 per cent of our population in the 0-11 age group and 22.9 per cent in the parents and homebuilders age 35-49. This growth is expected to continue for the next two decades.

Planning models developed from the 2011 census data by NSW Planning & Infrastructure predict an additional 7,500 residents are expected to call Yass Valley home by 2031 (projection starting from 2011).

I consider this modelling to be on the conservative side given many green field sites throughout the LGA are under review for subdivision or already have been subdivided such as Murrumbateman (with dramatic potential for continued subdivision and growth) while supporting infrastructure such as a $12.2 million dollar water pipeline to service Murrumbateman (Federal funding recently announced) and sewage works (under construction now) was not factored in to previous modelling.

Also not factored in to the projected growth of Yass Valley’s population in 2011 was the recently proposed Parkwood development straddling the border of the ACT and NSW.

Within the decade it is expected to cross into NSW, adding another 5000 families/homes in Yass Valley which could seriously impact on NSW residents’ access to cross border ACT “left overs” of public and private education that our families struggle to secure.

To combat the department’s summation that Murrumbateman students are needed in the Yass system, I have provided below the current and population growth break down for Yass Valley.

Planning projections include 1020 lot yield within the township of Yass, expected to be taken up by 2019. Clearly Yass schools will struggle to cater for this expansion even without Murrumbateman’s growth and are already under pressure with feeder school Berinba Primary infrastructure such as amenities block and hall built for a student population half its current size. The hall is beyond capacity now to accommodate whole school presentation assemblies with parents and there is no scope on the site to extend the structure.

There are currently 2975 children in Yass Valley aged between 0-11 with this figure expected to rise by an additional 816 children, to an impressive 3791 by 2031. The increase in parents and homebuilders demographic aged 35-49 is expected to increase by 981 to 4918.

The growth of Yass Valley driven by its relative proximity to the ACT is tempered by the hardship families‟ face accessing public transport, education and care. Students as young as four and a half are exhausted and distressed by long commutes on overcrowded buses along the notorious Barton Highway to the ACT away from their home and community of interest for after school sport and cultural activities.

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Locations of growth

The village of Murrumbateman has potential for exceptional growth. Approval of Federal Government and Council funds to create a 12.2 million dollar water pipeline will support dramatic subdivision expansion. It is estimated 980 new lots will be taken up in Murrumbateman by 2019 while in Yass township take up is also very strong, estimated at 1020 lots by 2019.

The village of Gundaroo has the capacity right now to accommodate 50 new dwellings. This is subject to the development of existing vacant lots and further subdivision of land already zoned for residential purposes. In addition, two planning proposals have recently been passed by Council to allow for rezoning with an estimated yield of another 130 lots – potentially doubling the population of the village.

In summary, Yass Valley‟s potential for expansion of population from 2016 will see it add almost 5,500 residents by 2031 to exceed a population of 22,000 (the current population of nearby Goulburn). Murrumbateman will do the heavy lifting in this growth supporting a third of our population by 2031. Murrumbateman should be on the Department of Education‟s ten year asset management plan now because… Murrumbateman needs a school now.


Cr Jasmin Jones,

Yass NSW

*Views expressed are Jasmin Jones’ own and not representative of Yass Valley Council.


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