THE Labor Party fears the State Government will sell the former Colac High School site in a pre-election fire sale.
The Department of Education placed the Murray Street site in its “disposal program” this year, and Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the government might sell the block before November’s state election despite Colac opposition to the sale plans.
Mr Tee said the government was rushing to sell surplus land to raise money.
“I don’t know if it will all be too late,” he said. “Part of the issue is they try to rush it through some sort of fire sale, I suspect there won’t be anything left come the November election.
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever – clearly part of it should be kept for community use and part of it should be kept for public space.
“That’s where things had got to before the election.”
Mr Tee said the Labor Party had received a list of about 20 schools the government wanted to sell within months, but he was unsure if Colac High School was on the list.
“Clearly that would limit our options,” he said of the timeframe.
“We haven’t got a policy on that just yet, we’re still working on that through our policy process, but the haste and the fire-sale nature of it just means there’s no proper scrutiny and process and also no sense there’s any value for money.”
A department spokesman previously told the Colac Herald the government had declared the site “surplus to educational requirements”.
“When selling sites, government requirements state that the department must first offer the property to other government departments, then to the local council, and then to public – at a market price determined by the Valuer General,” he said.
“Government policy is to sell land at market value with proceeds of land sales prioritised towards creating, maintaining, improving and extending assets that are core to current or future service delivery, including educational provision.”
The spokesman declined to say how far the discussions had progressed because talks with other government departments were commercial in confidence.
Colac Otway Shire Council hopes to secure at least a third of the former school site for community uses and another third for public open space.
But the council says it has a valid claim for the entire block because ratepayers paid for the land a century ago.