Wednesday 17 November 2010
Hansard of the Legislative Council


Mr FINCH (Question) - My question is to the honourable Minister for Education and Skills. Firstly, what assurances can the Government give that the former Macquarie Street school building, which is a heritage-listed building designed by Henry Hunter, will continue to be occupied and maintained after the closure of the South Hobart Adult Education Centre? Secondly, will the Government give an assurance that the Macquarie Street school building, as it was called when I went to school there, will be kept as a resource for South Hobart community groups rather than being sold?

Ms THORP - I thank the honourable member for his question, Madam President. After examination of occupancy rates across the current North Hobart and the former South Hobart Adult Education facilities under-utilisation of both sites was identified and DOE commenced a process to maximise the effective and efficient use of the resources. As part of that process the South Hobart site was determined to be surplus to requirements of the Department of Education and has subsequently been vacated by Adult Education. The adult education functions have been relocated to Community Knowledge Network facilities in Church Street, North Hobart. DOE has transferred the South Hobart site to the Department of Treasury and Finance for disposal, as is required under the Crown Lands Act and the Treasurer's Instructions 1301 and 1306. It is a specific requirement of the sale process that the site be vacant when handed over to Treasury. Security and maintenance of the site will be continued by DOE until a sale is achieved.

With regard to other alternatives for the South Hobart Progress Association and other community groups to use nearby facilities, the South Hobart Primary School has recently constructed a new multipurpose building through the Building the Education Revolution program which includes facilities suitable for community use. Local community groups are very welcome to approach the school principal, Mr Greg Turner, regarding use of the school facilities.

There was a degree of community interest in the retention of the property. As a result DOE officers met with the South Hobart Progress Association on a number of occasions to progress their proposal. Unfortunately, the proposal was unable to be agreed to as it required DOE to continue to maintain the facility on an ongoing basis without the centre being used for core service delivery. This would have placed pressure on the limited resources. Annual overhead costs associated with retaining ownership of the property are significant and include maintenance, rates and energy. There are also potentially much greater costs over time associated with the building in the event of damage and/or infrastructure breakdown or wear and tear - for example, roofing. These costs would remain a liability of DOE if the site were to be retained.