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Debate ignites as Mark Latham comes to town

Member of the NSW Legislative Council, Mark Latham, visits Bourke High School. Photo Layton Holley

Last week during his tour of Western NSW, One Nation MP Mark Latham sparked protests outside of Walgett and Bourke High Schools following claims he made on social media about the two communities.

As Mr Latham was shown around Bourke High School by Principal Rob Bourke, teachers gathered outside in protest, holding a sign that said, ‘Mark Latham not welcome on First Nations land.’

Barbara Hayward, the NSW Teacher’s Federation representative at Bourke High School, said local teachers were protesting because they disagreed with the One Nation party participating in education.

“Mark Latham has done nothing but run-down our First Nations people and communities,” she said, “and One Nation doesn’t support better conditions for teachers,” Ms Hayward said.

“If they cared about our students, they would contribute to improving the situation in NSW schools, but they aren’t.

“Mark Latham’s social media post was nothing but derogatory towards our First Nations people; I mean, we work here in a Connected Community school, where most of our students are First Nations students.

“So, if you are going to come out here, do something positive, don’t insult our community, she said.”

Mr Latham made the social media post in response to the proposed Aboriginal Flag on top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, which angered some residents of Bourke, Walgett, and Wilcannia.

“$25 million for an Indigenous flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge!” the post said.

“The NSW Perrottet Liberal Government, supported by Labour and the Greens, think this is value for money.

“It won’t do a thing to help a single Aboriginal in need.

“In Walgett, the Indigenous-run government school is so violent and dysfunctional that families are leaving town, while others are bussing their children to Lightning Ridge.

“In places like Bourke and Wilcannia, the police work on the assumption that every Indigenous child over the age of 5 has been sexually abused.

“These are the real tragedies destroying young Aboriginal lives, not the absence of a flag on a bridge.

“These are the problems that need fixing, not the empty symbolism of a flag only the inner-city harbour elites can see.”

Ms Hayward said she is angry about One Nation coming to Bourke after these comments.

“I don’t think he is here to help; he has his own agenda,” she said.

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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