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HAHS Alumni Forums / Selling the (Hurlstone) Farm / Sale of Hurlstone Farm and Memorial Forest
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admin
Admin Info
# Posted: 15 Nov 2008 14:13 - Edited by: admin


The DET has decided to sell the Hurlstone Farm, virtually in its entirety.
It is also likely (though not yet confirmed) that the area to be sold includes the Memorial Forest.

The purpose of the sale is to raise revenue for the recent mini-budget (see page 5-6 of the mini-budget document under Asset Divestments). The DET has confirmed that the "surplus land" mentioned in the minibudget refers to Seaforth TAFE and Hurlstone farm.

Of the current 160ha school property, 140ha has been designated as "surplus to future educational purposes" and is to be sold. This is basically the entire farm, leaving only the area "currently used for teaching purposes and agricultural study".

It also appears likely that the memorial forest may be included in the sell-off plans.

If you are concerned at this action, I suggest you contact your local member and/or the office of the education minister to voice your concerns

Also, please share your opinions / suggestions on this matter by "replying" to this message.

(To do so, type your comment in the "Your answer" box below and click "Post message". As always, you need to be logged-in before you can post a reply)


Colin Watts
(Alumn Admin)

felmac
Member Info
# Posted: 16 Nov 2008 19:26


This is a disaster for Hurlstone. We must try to stop this action. Anzac days in the Memorial Forest are so special that it has to be saved.

happinesstang
Member Info
# Posted: 16 Nov 2008 20:09


No! Not the farm! The farm is so important to Hurlstone. That's just like saying żou're going to sell the Harbour Bridge to another state. This is ridiculous.. I really hope the farm does not go away, it was one of the things that distinguished ourselves from other high schools.. Something has to be done. I remember they tried to do this a few years back.. I really hope we pull through again.

avallner
Member Info
# Posted: 17 Nov 2008 20:18


% of "Former Students" who actually care: 5%
% of us who ever benefited from this land: 0%
Silent majority who would be happy to see it go if it would save the state govt from the bankruptcy they are rapidly teetering towards: 95%
People who would be happy to see their taxes go up so that HAHS could continue with the privilege of having 140 acres sit unused: 0.1%.

If you want to keep it, get hold of Latham and see whether he still has any clout. And make a stronger business case than has been done to date. "It has been sitting there unused since 1927" isn't a particularly good one when those millions of $ could be spent building hospitals and roads that save lives, or working ports to export coal instead of having ships queued half way to China.

ingramrk
Member Info
# Posted: 17 Nov 2008 21:30


Our forebears in the early 20th century, in their wisdom, made the decision that in order to promote business, commerce and in those days the mainstay of the economy - agriculture, that they needed to establish elite state schools in order to allow those that had the potential to be offered a select education provided by the State for the benefit of the State. As such, NSW established four selective agricultural high schools - James Ruse, Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School, Yanco Agricultural High School and of course Hurlstone. The objective of these schools was to provide a specific agricultural education to those young people who would become the backbone and leaders of the agricultural and natural resource industries in the State. This foresight of our forebears has been totally justified time and time again. In my family at least seven members have attended Hurlstone, four of us have ended up in major positions in agriculture and natural resource management involved in work in Australia and across Asia. Another family member has been a very successful businessman, retired at 42 and now plays a significant role managing Rugby Union and local clubs that feed players into one of the Australian-based super 14 clubs. The other two were/are "just" successful farmers

The education I received at Hurlstone led me to a successful career in agriculture and natural resource management. I have been involved in the management of more than 60 major agricultural and natural resource projects in 21 countries across Asia over the last 28 years working for organisations such as the World Bank, the FAO, the ADB and AusAID. The investment made in me by the State all those years ago, has been rewarded by the improvement in the living conditions of millions of people. I came from a poor farming family in southern New South Wales and to this day I still say, "I'm just a poor country boy" who has worked hard and been lucky. But the roots which gave me that opportunity were firmly established at Hurlstone.

In my travels around Asia I regularly meet old Hurlstonians working in the environment, agriculture and natural resource sectors directly influencing and improving the lives of the poor and disadvantaged. If the environmental, social and economic impact of the benefits of the graduates of Hurlstone could be calculated it would be shown to be one of the greatest projects in practical agricultural and natural resource training any government has undertaken.

It is an insult of the greatest magnitude to our forebears and the rural people of New South Wales that any government should consider selling a resource that has directly provided so much benefit to the State and the Nation. We must make ourselves heard, this must not ever be allowed to happen, every old Hurlstonian who has benefited from the education provided to them needs to speak up and remember our motto: "Pro Pratia" - " For My Country". This time it is "For Our School".

Not only is it an insult of the greatest magnitude to our forebears but it's also an insult to future generations who will manage our natural resources and feed the world. The bureaucrats and politicians who promulgated this proposal are narrow-minded and myopic in the extreme - the short-term return from the sale of this asset will never reflect its true value to the environment and economy of the state.

If we have to march on Parliament I will fight for a place in the front row.

RKI 6820

AdrianA
Member Info
# Posted: 17 Nov 2008 23:03


Robert

Where are you going on Tuesday 25th? We actually might need you for a march on parliament!

Regards

Adrian Alexander
Class of 61
0408 938 919

davidm
Member Info
# Posted: 17 Nov 2008 23:09


Avallner - you are entitled to your view, and thank God Hurlstone encouraged free thought, but don't make the mistake of thinking you speak for others. If you want to quote figures - please back them up.

I very much valued my time on the farm and I was a city kid. I went on to a Military then political career, but the lessons of Hurlstone and what I learned about rural issues remain with me. Sure, it was the selective school my parents couldn't otherwise afford, but it gave me a start i can never imagine otherwise possible, and the expereince of agriculture and the farm was central to the experience.

If you foolishly believe that the value of what you call useless farmland will make one iota of difference to the State deficit - you are sadly mistaken. Perhaos more time in math might help the grasp of numbers. the issue is not farm or deficit and nor will the sale of 140 acres of mostly food prone land buy a hospital. The state won't make the money silly - the developers will.

I note you fail to mention the Memorial Forest - what value the sacrifice of the fallen? At least help us fight for that.

Again, perhaps Hurlstone was just a stepping stone for you and the Agriculture bit a mere inconvenience, and frankly, you are more than entitled to hold that view - but many of us do not share that view. I have had calls and emails from Prague, London, Hong Kong, Tasmania, Queensland and more that suggest tat Hurlstone, its land and its Memorial are valued by a signficant proportion of the alumni.

My opinion - This is a disgraceful act from a failed government seeking to trash pert of the heritage to pay the daily bills that they have failed to manage. I am one who stands up for the value of this land as being much, much more than what it can be developed for.

As for the Memorial Forest - our school motto Pro Patria is all the more significant when you consider those who fought and died putting the motto into practice - priceless.

David Moore
Class of 82

avallner
Member Info
# Posted: 18 Nov 2008 10:02


David, I failed to mention the Memorial Forest for 3 reasons:
1) It appears to be 0.5 acres and contiguous to the land under use and therefore I think it's likely to be excluded from this exercise
2) Even AFTER it was mentioned I still don't remember the thing - as far as I'm concerned I've never heard of it in my life. (It has been over 20 years.) My stance on it is that, assuming it exists (despite my total lack of recollection of it), it IS likely to be important to people, isn't large, and should be saved. But I'll leave its campaigning for people who are actually aware of its existence - it will mean more coming from them.
3) It's almost certainly the oldest Trojan Horse in the government book: Leave the forest issue silent and provoke uproar, then retreat to the position you wanted originally i.e. "OK, take the 140 unused acres but for Chrissakes leave the 0.5 acre sacred Forest." You, coming from a political career, should be more aware of this than anyone.

I'm not the one calling it "useless farmland" - that's the DET. THEY claim that 20 acres are used for education and training, and 140 acres are not. (Mind you, that 20 acres was wasted on me and anyone I know as well, but no-one is calling for its sale, or that of the buildings.) There's no point trying to convince me - I don't have a vote on the issue. Like I said, if the 140 acres serves a useful purpose, NOW would be the time to make the business case because the DET doesn't seem to be aware of it.

Sentiment is not going to help because they don't care - in fact, with the commies in, they probably get a kick out of sticking the boot into an "elitist" school. They've been trying to kill off selective schools since my time.

Also consider making a case for compromise - if (say) 60 acres is genuinely useful but the top 60 unused, offer them a lesser amount.

Other students, mostly in the inner city, found their CURRENT schools sold for land value - and not just the useless appendages, but the ACTUAL school. You'll understand if I grieve more for them than for Hurlstone's Class of Decades Ago.

If you think the land will be given away and developers will get rich, is your argument that the DET should itself undertake the subdivision and servicing exercise (and perhaps even building the houses) to maximise the value? If so, Hurlstone could participate in a very useful teaching exercise - much more useful in Sydney.

Charlie McColl
Member Info
# Posted: 18 Nov 2008 12:22


It would be helpful Avallner, if you stated your own position rather than trying to get others to alter theirs. For instance, you seem to hold the view that only about 5% of people give a stuff, about 0.1% would be prepared to pay more taxes to keep the land and that there's a 'silent majority' of 95% who are happy to see the land sold and presumably turned into little boxes all in a row. There's no evidence for any of these positions but more importantly, you don't state which camp you are personally attracted to....although I note that you fairly unambiguously declare that the 20 acres (sic) of the school itself was "wasted" on you and anyone you know. A tight little bunch of self-rejecting elitists if ever I heard of one. But it's not a great recommendation for anything you write to be taken seriously although you do seem to recognise that 5% give a stuff and since I'm part of that group I'll assume you are part of it too.
The land in question is 140 hectares (about 340 acres). It's easy to assume that a subdivision developer would be a likely buyer and that a few thousand dwelling units could be squeezed onto it to somehow alleviate a land shortage in Sydney. Would it be affordable land? No. Would it ease a shortage? No. Would the social and infrastructure programs of NSW benefit - in my opinion, no.
On the other hand, has Hurlstone been this way before? Well, yes. Remember the school was first established near the inner city and moved to Glenfield when my great grandfather was still alive. There must be some thriving hub of commerce along the tracks just outside the CBD which is still toasting the state government of the day for its foresight. Look that one up Avallner, you may learn something worth grieving about yet.
I'm with comrade Ingram on this one. I would like to see some of the Hurlstone alumni pool their considerable skills to propose a renewal of the vision for that land, that farm, that education facility. Perhaps for it not to be run by the Education Department, perhaps not by the government at all, but by an NGO enthused with a 21st century vision grown out of the finest high school education the 20th century could provide.
Something other than tar and cement. Something human, alive and growing.

davidm
Member Info
# Posted: 18 Nov 2008 13:28


Hi avallner, as i said, you are entitled to your opinion and me mine. neither of us want to engage in a fruitless debate. I take the view that I don't have to agree with the State Government proposition and your suggestion of a compromise suggests that you believe we are engaged in a negotiation. If only that were true.

BTW I have given the courtesy of my name - what's yours?

I didn't suggest the state should develop the land. My position is unequivical - i believe they should NOT sell or develop the land at all. My point was simply to point out that the final developed land value will not be what the State gets, and those who will mostly benefit will be developers not taxpayers - so your suggestion that its Hurlstone or hospitals was not a valid alternative. (Its an old political trick in itself Avallner, to try to frame this discussion in that way - have done that once or twice myself, but in this case its more like filling a gap than building a hospital)

No trojan horse here - my public commentary has been keep the farm and save the forest. And if you can't recall the site - its where the school used to have ANZAC Day commemorations. I note that you seem to be amendable to the MF's retention so your respect for that site is clear - albeit you can't recall it. Thanks at least for that.

Your commentary sought to justify the state decision on the basis of apathy at one level and empathy for the State's precarious budget on another. I don't hold that view. Its an entirely false paradigm and we need not accept the manner in which the decision makers seek to politically frame their decision. you are right, some have wantedto get rid of Hurlstone for a long time and this opportunity will not be lost on them.

Nor do I accept your 'equal misery for all' argument. Others had their school sold under them so we should cop our share? Lets all be socialists in misery together eh comrade? (although your reference to 'commies' suggests you might be an anarchist or a passionately 'contrary' debater

Yes I have a political background (In fact I spent more time as as Serviceman than in the political world, but i am confortable either way) but that makes me no less a Hurlstonian and please excuse me for thinking that future students might get value from the same experiences I had the fortune to have.

I think the bottom line at this juncture here is do you support the Government's decision to flog off the farm, including the Memorial Forest or do you not support it? If you don't, then please join us, if you do, that's fine - but please respect the fact that perhaps more people care than you might think.

If I have you wrong and your position is a compromise one - then I am sorry. If the state determines to negotiate, your option might become relevant, but currently it appears to be one of sell or not sell. Some of the others propose alternative open space or uses - again valid considerations. Being from Defence I know you can in fact multi use open space with the right management. My aim is to advocate against the current proposal which is disposal.

If you don't mind, lets move on. I respect your right to dissent. I'd rather deal with the substantive battle rather than an interesting side debate but nonetheless a distraction.

All the best to you.

kind regards

David Moore

admin
Admin Info
# Posted: 18 Nov 2008 15:09


Thanks for the discussion guys. Keep it coming ...

However I am concerned that we could soon descend into a useless slanging match is not careful ...

So let's make sure we debate the issues and not the personalities. We ought not to expect that every alumni will be in favour of keeping the farm, nor everyone in the community either.

The objections which Andrew Vallner raises are natural enough and need to be addressed. He is surely right in saying that mere sentiment will not carry the day.

A healthy debate like this can help address such objections, as long as we continue to stick to the issues.

Thanks,
Colin Watts (Alumni Admin)

PS The forum software only identifies people by their username (nickname) when they post messages. To see the full name, you simply need to click on the "Member Info" tag under their username.

davidm
Member Info
# Posted: 18 Nov 2008 19:59


Good counsel Colin. I am happy to move on, and I respect alternative views. thanks also for the user tip

On the more pressing issue -

Attached is the link to an interview with Alan Jones http://2gb.com/index2.php?option=com_newsmanager&t ask=view&id=2506

also a letter from Maj Gen Bill Crews AO President of the RSL

Dear David

I share the concern you have expressed in your email to us recently concerning the sale of the farm land around Hurlstone Agricultural High School. It would indeed be a very sad day to see a Memorial Forest simply disposed of as part of a larger property without any thought given to its significance and the purpose for which it was established.

It was unfortunate that this was not separately recognised at the time. However, one would hope that even now we can salvage this from the proposed sale.

As this issue concerns the NSW Government I am requesting our NSW State President, Mr Don Rowe, to action your request on our behalf. I will be speaking to Don separately in the very near future as well as encouraging him to see what he can do with the NSW Government in respect of this matter.

I hope we can offer you some good news. However, we can make no promises or commitments in that respect.

Kind Regards
Bill Crews


__________________________________
Major General Bill Crews AO (Retd)
RSL National President
Returned & Services League of Australia
GPO Box 303
CANBERRA ACT 2601
AUSTRALIA
Phone: + 61 2 6248 7199
Fax: + 61 2 6247 7637
E-mail: national.president@rsl.org.au
Website: www.rsl.org.au

Both have offered to take up the cause with the NSW Government

bonwag
Member Info
# Posted: 21 Nov 2008 02:52


All, if you are with Facebook, here's Yet Another Hurlstone Group: but this one is about saving the farm from being sold off for housing. If you want to stay up to date, join 'Save Hurlstone' at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=36181848162

avallner
Member Info
# Posted: 22 Nov 2008 18:09


David,

A few more details have emerged.

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,,246 83442-5001021,00.html

The figure in question from surplus land is $120m. That sounds a tad low to me - about $44k ea for 2700 1/8 acre standard blocks (unimproved). 1/12 of an acre seems to be typical of modern developments, and $195k completion value serviced.

I'd be happier with the proposal if the govt could do the job through Landcom and see $1bn of economic activity (2500 H&L packages @ $400k).

But let's assume $120m is the best the govt can do for this discussion.

$120m is not chicken feed. It's about triple what the commies saved by taking away free travel from schoolkids for example. Some of the money has been earmarked for other nearby schools. That WILL make the debate interesting - there will be emotion on both sides. If I had a kid at Mac Fields High or any of the other schools mentioned I'd be fighting pretty hard to ensure the proposal proceeds, and it will be hard for politicians to face these Working Families if they back down.

Some other pieces of info from the article:

- Hurlstone currently has 40% of its peak milk throughput. Either their efficiency has declined 60% or they're running a LOT less cows. This does not help the "We need every sq inch" case.

- There "will be consultation," so assuming the govt is unaware of the Forest (unlikely at this late stage), there will be the opportunity to ensure no irreversible accidents occur

- Consultation implies that there will be an opportunity to present a case for retaining all or some lesser proportion of the land.

- The govt is leading with the notion that JRAHS can run a high performing Ag HS with just 10ha. Interesting, and we can expect to hear more of this. I wonder if they used to occupy a larger area before selling surplus land? (I used to attend cricket training twice a week at JRAHS so am somewhat familiar with their setup.)

People have asked what my actual position on the issue is. Don't see why I should have a position before I have information - that's normally known as prejudice. But my interim position is:

- I generally oppose development on war memorials, whether inside or outside HAHS. Particularly when they are only 0.5ha and of no possible commercial value.

- I assume the govt, as dreadful as it is, is not silly enough that they would deliberately bulldoze the MF - but it certainly suits them to leave that issue dangling because it splits the opposition campaign and leaves them with a "compromise" position that gives them what they really want but with favourable press.

- I believe SOME land is surplus and should be sold; I don't believe it was all used in the 1980s, or is now. Reductio ad absurdum - are people seriously suggesting the school would be fundamentally compromised or its character changed if shrunk from 160ha to 159? I don't believe it, and think the benefits of a partial sale would exceed its costs - it may even improve utilisation of more intensively maintained farmland.

- I believe the school needs somewhere north of JRAHS's 10ha - among other things, HAHS has larger sporting fields. But between the 20ha that DET believes HAHS actually uses, and around 80ha, I'm open minded - noone has given many specifics about what is actually done. The only public statement is by the DET, who have stated that 140ha is surplus and unused. As a rule, I assume the govt is lying or has no idea so I suspect the actual useful and used area is larger but don't know to what degree.

- I believe that the value of competing uses for the land has increased since 1927. People want to live walking distance from the express train to the city (something that didn't exist until the Holdsworthy line went in). That, and building other schools in the area, are legitimate uses for public funds with positive externalities (for example, people commuting from Mac Fields station emit less carbon than people commuting from Narellan). The proposal has massive benefits to economic activity in the state; more so if Landcom does the development.

- I believe HAHS will be damaged less by losing (say) 80ha than by being perceived by the community as selfish elitists pushing some sentimentalist variation of NIMBYism, in the middle of an economic crisis where people are losing jobs and everyone is tightening belts. Especially when contrasted with JRAHS' 10ha site.

- I believe HAHS attracts people of sufficient calibre that they would cope with a reduced area and maintain its character and current activities. I believe future students in a smaller AHS would receive all the benefits we did, provided the sale of surplus land is in fact a sale of "surplus" land.

- Finally, I just don't see it affecting me whatever the outcome.

An extremist position of "We can't maintain the quality of our education with any less land than we have now" leaves the school in a very difficult position if the eventual outcome is anything but a 100% backdown from the govt. It tends to imply that they should get rid of the lot rather than leave an unviable rump. Those who want to see HAHS become Glenfield High will be cheered by the "all or nothing" argument.

I think the community would respect a genuine, well argued case that demonstrates current, productive use of as much land as this actually holds true for. As would I. But after a week away, I don't hold much hope of seeing such a document. (Again, preparing a business case would be a valuable learning exercise for school students and prepare them for the real world at least as efficiently as shoveling crap at 4:30am.)

We're talking about the war memorial forest, but what I'm hearing will not be perceived as showing community spirit and sacrifice. The stance on 139.5 of the disputed 140ha, leaving aside the 0.5ha forest itself, seems to be summarised as "too bad for Mac Fields High - we're asserting Native Title over our traditional lands."

Andrew

davidm
Member Info
# Posted: 22 Nov 2008 18:49


Hi Andrew, thanks for your note.

The Government backed down on MF on Wed. As I expected, they really didn't know it was there, so like you I never thought they would stick to that position. But it took them a week to do so...

The value is interesting. The Tele story appears to be based on the assumption that half the $240m expected proceeds is from HAHS. Noting that there are questions over how much land can in fact be developed, the D-G told a committee that most of the $240m is expected from HAHS, but only part will go back to education capital works (we think less than half again split between four or five schools plus a cut for the Education Dept).

I don't accept the basic propostion that its Hurlstone or Mac Fields nor the morality of seeking to pit school against school. Mac Fields will get very little from the proceeds and much of their cap works were approvedprior to mini budget - so we need to take care not to accept hook line and sinker a post mini budget political construct. Mac Fields deserve their resources i their own right - not instead of Hurlstone.

James Ruse has 6 head of cattle and six sheep and they need to use adjacent Elect commission land - so the misinformation re JRAH has proved to be bunkum. Thy need more land for 1/10 the livestock. There is no comparison and nor should we accept that JRAH has the same ag focus as Hurlstone. JRAH is an exceptional school, but I happen to have an interest in the future of sustainable ag and believe we should be expecting more of ag schools, not less. It is true many go to HAHS for its selectivity - but note the current day Captai has chosen ag science as his pursuit.

I do think your land argument is bunkum. NSW has considerable amounts of land banking that is not being developed currently and greenspace is required within suburbia. If you want to argue the CO2 argument, then lets infill centennial park or some of the harbour foreshore because on an economic value arguiment and CO2 argument that would win hands down over hurlstone. That aside, you keep suggesting the state is negotiating - they are not. the promises to consult are premised on the fact they are proceeding with sale. For what its worth, if the suggestion that best practice ag education can be conducted with, say 80Ha and that was based on some sort of assessment, then it would be worth considering the process. I don't accept the state position that says 'lets start with an area that is buildings and oval (now plus 2.2ha of MF - as confrimed by he Ministers office) and then force you to justify every inch after that - any more than you like "lets start at 160 ha and fight every inch down'.

Your comment "I believe future students in a smaller AHS would receive all the benefits we did, provided the sale of surplus land is in fact a sale of "surplus" land." I think is a worthy one. I don't think the land is basically surplus. My interest is in the retention of practical farm exposure - noting it will never be commercially profitable - than relying on books and mimim demonstration plots. If the state was genuine in discussing the necessary size of a farm, that at least would be a reasonable starting proposition, but they started with the notion that 140Ha was surplus.

I would note that Farrer and Yanco are both significantly l;arger tha JRAH.

You should read Tony Burke's speech to the UN this week - as I have, and publicly commended it. I think we have a challenge to get even more ad brigher people doing ag - not just as farmers but as scientists. the catchment therefore needs to include city kids. Not all will go to ag, but it would be a por outcome if as few went to ag as JRAH - as bright as those kids are. I didn't go on to ag, but did get involved in regional policy many years later and indeed tax policy on forestry, I was surpised how the grounding assisted in sorting out the tax shysters from the silvicultura requirements.

The organising committee is not oblivious to these things - and I accept that you at least have the same healthy cynacism about the govt as we do. These issues were to be discussed at today's meeting at HAHS. the Council have sided with the school based on their planing desire not to see the land developed so I think there is a multidimensional argument.

I believe the state started with a predetermined position. they have shifted in their language somewhat but my experience in government tells me not to be lulled into a false sense of security. An email from the Ministers office tried to reconstruct the MF battle as if they always knew it was there and had no intention o touching it. Regrettably that has the smell of spin.

Nonetheless - rest assured that what I would like is the best practice ag educational outcome - I think our psotion as the status quo has its merits and the onus is on the state to justify any alternative position. If the school community collectively see a compromise, that is their call.

as a principle though, as population grows the state has to find the resources to provide for pubklic education, not seek to cannibalise and salami slice. Pitting parent against parent is pretty based politics.

Thanks for your thoughts - there is an overlap. Perhaps email might be better than BB for these long discourses.

Like you - not directly affected, but as an Australian every dollar carved of education and better sustainable ag science is a poor decision in my mind.

cheers

David

davidm
Member Info
# Posted: 22 Nov 2008 19:02


BTW Andrew, several of us took up the mantle only as an interim measure and tried to consult, noting we had onl;y a few days to signal what we got as the consensus. The meeting today is very much about firming up the preferred position and seeking wider conformation of the structure and input to the committee.

Many of us were as focussed on the farm as the MF - as said in earlier posts. If you would like further input and to discuss how we have been thinking, please email Tiffany Spiers to find out how. I think the commie is 100% motivated by the best outcome and the desire that future generations get the same opportunity we got - noting it is an ag boarding school and not just a selective school or suburban high school as much as those schools have their merits and their needs.

cheers

David

robertdean
Member Info
# Posted: 23 Nov 2008 18:25




Good job guys! That is an edifying discussion, David and Andrew! It takes courage to dissent. We need to hear those arguments so we can be ready to respond when we hear them from others later.

I think the open space arguments will hold water. What better use for open space than to operate an educational farm on it?

Let's be vigilant that the Government does not sell the land short to a favored developer and then buy it back as open space at full market value. Maybe I'm getting too cynical. But, if we raise that specter we might get them to see they are taking a short-term view by selling off "The Farm" for immediate profit.

Over here, in the US, land values are plummeting. This is a terrible time to be selling long-term assets, such as land.

Everyone, send an email or two to your NSW MOP. They do count them.

Carolyn Pengilly
Member Info
# Posted: 18 Dec 2008 01:56


The only way to have any influence on this decision is to lobby politicians and intensify media attention. At the end of the day no one wants to pay more for their food at the supermarket, or risk infections from imported inferior produce. Sooner or later Australian Governments need to realise the rammifications of their short sighted decisions. Below are copies of 2 articles I have posted with newspapers. We all need to support this extremely important issue.
Posted on the weekly times website
To sell Hurlsone's farm is another nail in the coffin of agriculture. First our research stations are being sold off, then our rail lines that cart our grain to market are being shut down and now I read with horror that Hurlstone is to be reduced to 20ha. Farmers need research and education to help adjust to climate change. I know, I am married to a farmer and I am an agriculture teacher. Hurlstone without a farm may as well be renamed Glenfield Selective. You offer me no incentive to send my children to my old school. I can give them the same opportunities at the local high school. How do you anticipate economically running a dairy on 20ha. Perhaps the NSW Government can answer that! Second thoughts they are perhaps not the ideal advisers on fiscal policy given their own track record
Posted by: Carolyn Baker of Grenfell 06:10pm Tuesday 9th

Posted on the land website

My farming ancestors built this nation through paying generations of taxes to support the Nation's Economy. Now farmers need more education and research into new varieties of crops and farming methods to help adjust to changing climatic conditions. Instead the Government is shutting down our research stations, closing train lines which pushes up the price of transporting grain and now for a grand finale essentially shutting down one of the finest, most successful schools in the State. As an ex Hurlstonian I am mortified. I am a passionate Ag teacher and I know how difficult it is to run an effective Ag Program on 14 ha. It would be impossible to economically run the Ayrshire Dairy on 20ha. This stud has won Champion ribbons at Sydney Royal and when I was The Cattle Team Leader Hurlstone Eloise was ranked 2nd in Australia. The NSW Government needs to tread carefully on this decision. Selling Hurlstone just might be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

dlatimer
Member Info
# Posted: 21 Dec 2008 14:18


Andrew Vallner has a brilliant economic mind. The other side of the question is what is the true value of a school farm? And what will be its value in the future.

As a citizen of NSW, I stand to gain a mere $19 from the sale. DET have land assets in the order of $16 billion ($2,300 per person) while the cost of running the department is $9 billion.

Most schools have large playground areas which do not contribute to education. High Schools in European cities provide adequate education without such land. The value of the school farmland is thus higher than a large playground. Will the government be selling them too?

Economic analysis will only open up a can of worms. Infact this is a political decision and should be treated as such. Is Hurlstone Agricultural High School wanted or is it not wanted?

The likely truth is a senior bureaucrat in the Asset Division said "we need to find $300 million real quick ... I need answers by lunchtime."

Charlie McColl
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# Posted: 22 Dec 2008 09:21


David Latimer is bountiful with either generosity or irony if he can see a "brilliant economic mind" in Avallner's wasted ravings. Look at the proposition: "...are people seriously suggesting the school would be fundamentally compromised or its character changed if shrunk from 160ha to 159? I don't believe it....".
This is about as moronic as suggesting that the memorial forest could be moved into the middle of the No.1 oval to improve efficiency. Talk about prejudice! If the HAHS defense is going to rely on this level of political or economic expertise we might as well stick to reading about it in the tabloid newspapers.

dlatimer
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# Posted: 23 Dec 2008 13:02


Andrew Vallner is a bona fide economic genius. He is an analytical person. He is expressing the proposition of marginal utility. That does not mean you need to agree with him. He is thinking through the governments case. Andrew's contribution to a debate will be invaluable. Let's use our intellect and cover all the bases.

davidm
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# Posted: 23 Dec 2008 13:59


Hi guys, all interesting and a lot of bright people are contributing in their own way. I do have an issue with thinking through the government's case in a public forum as this is not an academic pursuit - its about trying to reverse a quite unfortunate Government decision.

Neither is the government necessarily advocating what is being suggested - albeit suggested in good faith. If they were talking about removing 1 Ha few of us would be involved as we are. They are talking about taking the entire farm. Andrew was making the valid point that if there is room for compromise there might be a win win outcome. My only issue on that was that the Government position was currently not about a compromise and largely premised on a the incorrect notion that the land was largely unused and surplus. The view of the committee has largely been justified in Nathan Rees staunchly sticking to his view that everything but 10 ha is not ncessary for a decent ag education. He has been quite patronising in his comparisons with James Ruse which is a good school but not the same. Even Andrew suggested that somewhere north of 10 ha was probably necessary and we have since distilled the actua land usage. We now know that the four school and Departmental buildings and access roads use some 35 Ha alone and the farm at 115 ha is currently assessed as slightly overstocked but fine due to supplementary feeding. Nonetheless if the government was saying , what of the 115 ha might reasonably be excised for development, then there would be a negotiation. so far they haven;t done so.

I think dlatimer makes a reasonable point that the indiviudal utility to be gained from the sale is peanuts compared to the collective utility of the farm as a school and agriultural development resource. Carol makes an important contibution from her hands on expereince and its hard to argue against Charlie McColl's passion.

I think all the conributors have been well meaning and I have found myself having reason to disagree from time to time. But its only our job to make the case for HAHS, not for the Government. I don't think their position has anything to do with the broader good because the school land and its use has been eviewed several times over recent decades - its all about the money for their warchest for the next election. While Iam open to reasonable negotiation on the principles and the facts, I must confess that I have a problem with the motivation for the government and their approach. some aspects have been quite disengenuous, including a secret drive by visit from the Premier when he didn't get out and didn't talk to anybody and then used that visit in an interview to suggest he had now visited the school and 'saw nothing to change his mind'.

If possible I think we can have reasoned debate, but lets also take care not to hand the government bullets to fire at us because they won't take prisoners and they won't be reasonable (and hopefully I am proven wrong on the latter). If they start operating in good faith, i think we are obligd to reciprocate, in the mean time i think we should be factual, we should be reasonable but not give them credit for negotiating when they are not doing so.

dlatimer
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# Posted: 23 Dec 2008 17:32


I completely agree with the above.

Andrew remembers some unused land in the 1980. The main parcel of unimproved land was on the southern side of Bunbury Curran Creek. That land is now part of Macquarie Links and no longer belongs to the school.

There is one small paddock (approx 2 ha) full of trees in the centre of the school, which obviously serves to secure the dam wall against errosion. Anyone lookng at the school from an aerial photo can see the the whole school property is devoted to either agriculture, buildings and sporting ovals.

avallner
Member Info
# Posted: 2 Jan 2009 00:09


Dave is quite correct. There are TWO ways to win a fight with the government, not one.

I have only written of one: economic / factual - convince them that their assumptions are incorrect, and demonstrate that the current usage of the land in question is more valuable than the alternative.

The other is a political one - the government will (regardless of economic arguments) not act if they will lose more seats by the action. If the anti-sale faction convinces the govt that the asset sale will cost net votes in marginal seats. Of course, this does not mean "losing Hurlstonians' votes." This means losing MORE votes than will be purchased by spending the $ in question, or increasing the current year deficit.

i.e. HAHS needs to demonstrate

PV Use[Curr] > PV Use[Alt]

AND/OR

d.Vote(Sale) > max [ d.Vote(Spending[Alt]) , d.Vote(Deficit) ]

where only votes in at-risk electorates are counted.

When talking about the political leg of the fight, the elephant in the room has to be Mark Latham, surely? Class of 1980 I believe. Has he spoken publicly of his views, for or against?

From what little I know of the political process, this is best achieved by scare campaigns founded on self-interest: Not "HAHS is great in its current form" but rather "Unless you send a message that all schools are sacrosanct, your son/daughter's school will be next to be sold." This could turn the apparent beneficiaries of the asset sale into opponents (ironically).

Irony: "Incongruity or discordance between what one says or does, and what one means or what is generally understood."

Charlie McColl accuses dlatimer of "irony" and myself of "prejudice." This is based on my stated position that I refuse to make up my mind before hearing the facts and arguments from and on behalf of both sides! That WOULD be ironic, if it wasn't ignorant, sad, a poor reflection on HAHS education, and just plain scary given that it is this type of individual that the pro-HAHS faction seems to be relying on!

Thanks for the kind comments Dave. In the interests of disclosure, dlatimer was in my year and was subsequently my flatmate. He is therefore better qualified to form an opinion about me than someone who graduated while I was an embryo.

Dave also identifies a previous instance where surplus land was sold, incredibly WITHOUT HAHS collapsing into a singularity.

I have written to the Minister. I questioned whether the handling of the MF issue implies that insufficient homework was done in the DET before forming opinions about land use. Since there is no shortage of people saying "Do this" "Don't do that" "I want" etc, I kept it to asking questions about the decision making and consultation processes. If anything informative is provided by the Minister, I will post it.

Andrew

jsbuser
Member Info
# Posted: 11 Jan 2009 23:02


I note the clarification on the sale including the Memorial Forest in the December school newsletter was from:

"Alastair Hunter, Deputy Director-General, Finance and Infrastructure, Department of Education and Training"

Is this the same Alistair Hunter who was HAHS Class of '79?

If so, I dont remember that he ever took to growing brocolli, debeaking chickens or preg testing cattle. Went on to do accountancy at Sydney.


Sorry if its been covered.
- John

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