New England byelection candidates front voters at education forum in Armidale

Candidates fronted voters for the first, and only, public forum in Armidale on Wednesday night.

With a focus on the Coalition’s “failing” Gonski 2.0, the NSW Teachers Federation grilled byelection runners over their position on education reforms.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron told The Express most candidates “are on side”.

“The government is ripping $26 million out of New England schools over the next two years,” he said.

“If you’re not going to stand up for country schools in your electorate then who is?”

Independent candidate Rob Taber said country schools need more.

“I can’t understand why and it’s something that’s got to be turned around,” he said.

“Looking at Tamworth, $21 million pulled from schools over two years … we’ve got to do something about that.

“Education is one of the most important things we need to fund along with health.

“It’s all got to be addressed and it’s very important.”

During his three-minute speech, Independent Jeff Madden said the Coalition needed to “budget smarter”.

“My role is to represent the views of the people,” he said.

“The shenanigans need to stop in politics.

“Political gains at the expense of Australians and of course the most vulnerable, our children, needs to stop.”

Animal Justice Party’s Skyla Wagstaff said she would fight to ensure vulnerable needs are met.

“We can see here that what this government is doing is discriminating against rural children,” she said.

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