I strongly support the development of a new primary school in Ultimo. The City has worked for the past year to finalise the sale of the former deport on Fig and Wattle streets to the State Government for that purpose.
At last night's Council meeting there was unanimous support for my proposal to see a new primary school built. The price we are now offering is the price the Government was seeking and I urge them to accept it.
The recent decision by the Government to withdraw its offer for the site was extremely disappointing to the City and inner city residents.
On 26 November, I wrote to the Education Minister asking that he detail what action he intends to take to provide a needed new local school in Ultimo.
On 2 December, I sought to speak with the Minister by phone to offer a compromise. The Minister's office advised that the City should talk to the Department for any further offer. The City's CEO contacted the Department the same day and was informed that it would not consider the further offer.
I wrote again to the Education Minister on 4 December proposing that the City and State reach agreement by putting in $4.25 million each to bridge the gap between the Department's last offer and the offer endorsed by Council.
Unfortunately, the Department has said this compromise "far exceeds the department's expectation of what is a reasonable purchase price for land on which to build a piece of community infrastructure.
At last night's Council meeting an amendment by Liberal Councillor Edward Mandla that the price be reduced by the entire difference indicated that Council was prepared to support a more ambitious approach. I hope that the Liberal Councillors' move to reduce the sale price to $74 million is a sign that the Liberal Government will accept the offer, rather than evidence of their desire to play politics on this important issue.
The Minister for Education must now instruct his Department to immediately resume negotiations with the City to conclude an agreement for the sale of this site so that a primary school can be built as soon as possible.