Maclean bat issue unity call

MEMBER for Page Janelle Saffin has urged the Maclean High School P and C to stay with the flying fox working group it resigned from last week.

A spokeswoman for Ms Saffin said the MP had been in touch with the P and C since the public resignation and encouraged it to remain involved in the process.

“It doesn’t stop them doing other things, taking other action, but by being involved they can be part of the solution. They can also be involved in setting the terms of reference for the working group,” the spokeswoman said.

Ms Saffin said her primary concern on the issue had always been the safety and health of the students and staff at Maclean High School.

In a letter to the P and C in December last year, Ms Saffin said she had already taken action on the issue because, though the school was not in the electorate of Page, up to half the student population were Page residents.

“I agree with your stated approach of working on short-term, medium-term and long-term co-existence,” Ms Saffin said.

“ Like all, I supported the previous solution (of dispersal of the flying foxes), but it has proven to not work and others need to be found.”

Ms Saffin said she shared fears of Hendra virus outbreak and said she would love the P and C to hear directly ‘from the best experts we have’.

Ms Saffin said she had made several representations to Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett whose office had never received an application for a licence to disperse the flying foxes.

She said Clarence Valley Council and the NSW Department of Education had abandoned the application process because of the costs involved.

“I also visited Maclean High and inspected the rainforest area with Mr Brown, who told me he was satisfied with such an approach. Where was (Federal Member for Cowper) Mr Hartsuyker then? Not within cooee of Maclean High,” Ms Saffin said.

She said she would write to the relevant Federal and State ministers to seek support for the school in implementing a co-existence plan.

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