26 September 2022

Liberals blast Pocock over use of public school hall for 'political' event

| Lottie Twyford
Join the conversation
David Pocock at a town hall event

On Sunday, Senator David Pocock hosted a Town Hall event at Lanyon High School. The inclusion of his election flags has raised a few eyebrows. Photo: David Pocock.

The Canberra Liberals have blasted Senator David Pocock over what they describe as an “inappropriate and disappointing” choice to hold a “clearly political” event in a public school hall.

On Sunday, 18 September, Senator Pocock hosted a Community Town Hall event at Lanyon High School. He invited community members to talk to him about the issues that mattered to them.

His decision to do so was criticised by Deputy Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson, who accused the Senator of politicising ACT public schools.

He argued the use of banners that displayed ‘Vote 1 David Pocock’ and volunteers wearing his campaign t-shirts showed the event was political.

Jeremy Hanson

Deputy Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson questioned the inclusion of election signage at a community event held in an ACT public school. Photo: Region.

Mr Hanson questioned who had approved the event and whether Education Minister Yvette Berry had given it the go-ahead.

“I don’t believe schools or other ACT Government facilities should be politicised by Federal or local politicians and would prefer they remain off limits for these sorts of events,” the Deputy Opposition Leader said.

“The real question is, who approved this political event in an ACT public school and did the ACT Education Minister believe it was appropriate?”

READ ALSO Pocock power play calls for light rail rethink, questions infrastructure priorities

The Education Directorate and Senator Pocock have downplayed the significance of the location and election signage. However, Senator Pocock will not use that same signage at similar events in the future.

“This was not a political rally or promotional event but a simple community consultation, held in good faith for Senator Pocock to update the community on what’s been happening in parliament, as well as to answer the community’s questions,” a statement from Senator Pocock’s office read.

It said Senator Pocock was still waiting for new materials, including new signage, and there had been delays of up to four months in securing a signwriter, for example.

“Old signage from the campaign is being used in the interim simply to alert constituents to things like the location of the office and to direct them to events. Notwithstanding the above, Senator Pocock will not be using the flags further,” it read.

A spokesperson for Mr Pocock said Mr Hanson appeared to be “trying to cause trouble”.

READ ALSO Proposal to ban booze and late sittings at Parliament House

The Education Directorate confirmed the hall had been hired under its Community Use of Hall Facilities Policy and the school neither endorsed nor took any active part in the event.

“The Directorate supports the use of ACT public schools as community facilities when the facilities are not in use by the school,” their spokesperson confirmed.

“The event was unrelated to the operation of the school, it was not held during business hours, and there were no school staff or students formally engaged in the event.”

Lanyon High School was paid $380.70 for the three-hour hire, per the recommended community hire rate.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Politicising ACT public schools?? It’s a community owned building … who cares if its day use is as part of an ACT public school. The only crowd politicising ACT Education are the Canberra Libs. After loosing Zed’s senate seat, the poor old things are clutching at straws.

No ACT politicians can turn up to the 2 pre schools, 3 Primary Schools and a High School that ACT Labor closed in Kambah alone.

I’m no fan of the Libs, but the ACT government hasn’t got much to crow about on our Public Education system.

I’d actually like Senator Pocock to go to Calwell High and see why ACT Worksafe recently shut the school down, attend one of the remaining Kambah primary schools and see why every indigenous child at the school is performing way below educational average, also visit the Tuggeranong school that locked a child in a cage instead of dealing with the behavioural issues.

It’s a public venue. Open to the public for whatever civil activity they choose. This is a non-issue.

So you’re saying he should have used a private school that was publicly funded by liberal cohorts and rort mongers.
Nice work Pocock, keep up the good work???

It’s funny to see people not get the point of this.

It’s only a minor infraction but he used publically provided facilities to engage in partisan political activities.

I’m sure that if Scomo had done the same in the last parliament the same people forgiving this would have been fine with it. LOL.

Next time leave the campaign material at home.

As long as it’s not during school time a no school children are forced to attend, there is no moral or ethical problem here. Your whataboutism is lame lol

Your excuse of a clearly political event in a public school is lamer. LOL.

No matter who was doing it, it shouldn’t have happened.

Acting like no church group has ever used a school gym.
Seems like a decent rate.

What is Jeremy Hanson smoking?

HiddenDragon7:31 pm 22 Sep 22

Rather than getting snarky over this incident, the ACT Liberals should be turning all their attentions and efforts to making the most – in a positive way – of the golden opportunity presented to them by Senator Pocock’s questioning of the ACT state religion of light rail.

Whether or not they see it that way, their No.1 job should be getting themselves elected to government in the ACT and if that means holding fire on someone who denied them what they apparently see as their birthright, then so be it.

Poor old Jeremy must be completely unhinged to think he can away with inventing the charge that merely by using any hall for a political meeting you are thereby “politicising” the owners of the hall. Is that really the best he can do? The best that ACT Liberals can do?

I scratch my head in dismay at this latest shot in the foot from Jeremy Hanson. And he has plans to be leader again! Like honestly!!! You’ve been there too long Jeremy. You’re too snarly and angry and need to move on

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.