Thousands sign up to stop Swinburne Lilydale sell off

Close to 3000 people have put their name on a petition protesting against the planned sell off of Swinburne’s Lilydale Campus, Shadow Education Minister and Member for Monbulk James Merlino said.

Mr Merlino presented the petition in Parliament house today alongside Local Labor Members Shaun Leane and Johan Scheffer, who together represent the areas most affected by the closing of the Lilydale site.

Shadow Education Minister and Member of Monbullk, Mr Merlino said the turnout by the community demonstrated the feeling was clear and widespread.

“Today, the petition with the thousands of signatures we have collected so far – and there are more on the way – was tabled in Parliament,” Mr Merlino said.

“The massive petition puts in writing what the thousands of students, staff and community members have been saying for months since the site closed: the Lilydale campus is not for sale.

“The Liberal Government is ignoring the community at their peril. Closing down and selling off the only higher education facilities in the outer east is reprehensible and will not be tolerated by the community.”

Member for Eastern Metropolitan Mr Leane said if the proposed zoning changes come into effect, the site could be sold off and an important educational precinct lost forever.

“The feedback we have received has been overwhelming. People recognise that if Swinburne Lilydale is flogged off, the outer eastern suburbs will never get it back,” Mr Leane said.

“The major proponents for carving up the Lilydale campus are the Napthine Government and the Yarra Ranges Shire Council, despite the community being against it.

“Incredibly the Napthine Government has gifted the Yarra Ranges Shire Council $100,000 to draw up plans for the site, which comes after the Council made it very clear it wants to use the site for its own purposes.

“Yarra Ranges has a clear conflict of interest – it doesn’t care about TAFE or higher education, it simply wants office space with rooms with a view even if it comes at the detriment to the community.”

Member for Eastern Victoria, Johan Scheffer said the site was uniquely important for the communities outside the urban fringe and into western Gippsland.

“This petition today puts it clearly to the Premier that any plans to rezone and sell off this site is against the wishes of the community in the outer eastern suburbs,” he said.

“If the Yarra Ranges Shire Council and Mr Napthine go ahead with their plan to rezone and sell off Lilydale, it will severly restrict the opportunities for hundreds of communities in my electorate.

“Notably, despite 3000 people putting the names down on the petition, Local Liberal MPs Christine Fyffe, Brad Battan, Ken Smith, David Hodgett and Gary Blackwood are all absent from the list.”