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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : November 26th 2008
MB INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, November 27, 2008 3 NEWS www.innerwestweekly.com.au Nathan, you've got no Facebook friends Frances Mao on her way to school at Burwood station this week. Picture: PHIL BLATCH ~PP220681 FRANCES MAO Should students speak out about the cuts to travel subsidies? www.innerwestweekly.com.au ''SHUT up Nathan Rees, I like my free transport.'' I profess I am a member of this group on Facebook. Not only do I like my free school public transport, and sincerely appreciate it (although many of you adults may not believe it), I also know that the decision by Premier Nathan Rees to cut free public transport for school students, the scheme that has been in place for 68 years and is daily relied upon and honestly needed by both public and private school students, is going to depressingly add to my family's schooling costs. The axing of the Back to School allowance does not help matters either. Needless to say the whole thing is unanimously condemned by school students and their families alike. This resentment and anger is being expressed using the method of communication that defines my generation: online. In chat rooms, forums, and online communities like Facebook, teenagers vent their anger. ''Shut Up Nathan Rees, I like my free transport'' is only one such group on Facebook that hundreds of NSW students have joined in taking a stand against the in- tended abolition of free travel passes, and this is justified. At my school I would say that nearly the entire student popu- lation catches a bus or train to and from school, some having to travel upwards of two hours either way. Families are struggling enough as it is, what with high petrol and food prices and a mortgage to pay off, they are undeniably feeling the effects of the spiralling econ- omy. The November 11 mini- Budget provides that I will now pay $90 per year for my transport. Primary school kids will pay $45 and for a family $180. It's not going to break the bank, and it is far from many people's fears that they might be paying up to $400. Nevertheless, it's one more un- welcome load on people's backs. Frances Mao, of Burwood, travels to the north shore each day. Parents dump their pain on MP FIONA BRADY and MARIE SANSOM DRUMMOYNE State Labor MP Angela D'Amore says she hears the concerns of local families over the slashing of the student subsidies ''loud and clear''. Parents will have to pay up to $90 a year to send their kids to school after Treasurer Eric Roozendaal slashed the School Student Transport Scheme, which costs about $700 per child and a total of $470 million. Parents of primary students will pay $45 a year and high school students $90, with the contribution capped at $180 a family. The Back to School allowance, normally paid in February, has been scrapped entirely, saving $58 million. The savings will be directed into special education. The school cuts were the most unpopular aspects of the Mini- Budget and even some Labor MPs spoke out against them. While Ms D'Amore did not con- demn the plans outright, she said she understood parents' worries and would lobby on their behalf. ''I've heard loud and clear what my parents are saying,'' she said, adding that she had met with local Catholic schools' P and Cs on Monday to discuss the issue. She said key concerns raised by parents were how the scheme would be administered and whether the hardship provisions could be widened. In response to reports that internal NSW Labor party polling had named Ms D'Amore's seat as oneof32putatriskbythe unpopular Mini-Budget, Ms D'Amore said she was not going to speculate what would happen in two years' time. ''I'm not fazed by polling, I get on and do my job,'' she said.'' Inner West Teachers Associ- ation president Greg Blundell said the changes were likely to hit families of public school students the hardest. Funds to help local works SHIREEN KHALIL and FIONA BRADY LOCAL councils have received a handy bonus as part of the Federal Government's $300 million infra- structure program. Strathfield Council has been allocated $195,000 and Mayor Keith Kwon was delighted with the announcement, saying it would help the council provide additional improvements to local community infrastructure. ''Council will now begin to as- sess where the funding will be directed and will ensure the com- munity is informed as to what infrastructure outcomes will be delivered as a result of this fund- ing,'' he said. Cr Kwon said the grant would help assist the council in upgrad- ing local infrastructure projects ''for the long-term benefit of our community''. Burwood Council is also in the process of determining what their $190,000 will be spent on. ''There's a whole range of infra- structure projects we will be look- ingtospenditon...with priorities remaining the upgrade of park facilities and footpaths," Mayor Lesley Furneaux-Cook said. She would also investigate fund- ing for Burwood's library project. Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said while the council was grateful for the $293,000 it received, it was a ''drop in the ocean'' and needed continuing support. ''Canada Bay is unique in that it is an ageing area with ageing infrastructure, surrounded by sea- walls and more parks than any other local government area which means more sporting clubs,'' he said. He said infrastructure such as footpaths, roads, playground, amenity blocks, sea walls and drainage all needed cash injec- tions. Ashfield Council's general man- ager Ken Gainger is preparing a report on how the council could spend its allocated $251,000. Mayor Ted Cassidy suggested the Croydon streetscape redevel- opment might be a suitable project. 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