The follow quotes are from a meeting of the GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE No. 2: "Examination of proposed expenditure for the portfolio area: EDUCATION AND TRAINING" of Wednesday 19 November 2008. The full transcript is available on the ‘Save Hurlstone’ FaceBook group.
They are attributed to Mr M. Coutts-Trotter, Director General, Department of Education and Training
…we are going to have a look to see whether some of that site, potentially up to 140 hectares of that site, could be sold, but that is a process that is going to take quite some planning and quite some consultation first and foremost with the school community.
…Obviously there is a history and tradition at Hurlstone that we have to consider and respect, but there are other students and other schools in the southwest of Sydney that are looking for other opportunities – Casula, James Meehan and other schools. If we can find a way that respects and supports the quality of what happens at Hurlstone Agricultural High School but we can also free up many millions of dollars for reinvestment in other public schools as a starting point, I think that is a fair and appropriate thing to do
Q: What if the community said they did not want to sell it, they want to keep it? Your consultation with the community almost presumes that you are going to sell it anyway.
Mr COUTTS-TROTTER: Consultation with the community starts from the starting point that we would like to sell some of the site because it is simply so enormous. It now sits on very valuable land.
Q: It is really about the value of the land?
Mr COUTTS-TROTTER: In part, of course. It is about the value of the land to generate money that can be reinvested in other schools in western and south-western Sydney and other parts of the State.
…I think the fact that the farm runs at a loss is a correct statement, but the indication that that is the reason why we are looking at Hurlstone Agricultural High School as a potential site for some asset sales would be wrong. The reason we are looking at it is we have a chance here to release money for reinvestment in public schools.
Q: Of the 160 hectares at Hurlstone Agricultural High School, how much land are you looking at selling, or have you not made a decision about that?
Mr COUTTS-TROTTER: We have not made a decision. We need to go through a very detailed process of consultation and planning. It is a 160-hectare site. I think the school buildings occupy more than 20 hectares. Obviously there is the issue that has arisen about the memorial forest. I understand the Premier has given a commitment that the memorial forest certainly would not be considered for sale. That just indicates that with a site of that size, we will have to go through a very detailed process of planning and consideration, and that will happen over the next two months.
My main takeaway-from this: during exams and marking, and over the holidays, the school community will be consulted not about if, but how much of the land will be sold.