FRANKSTON’S attitude in connection with the High School movement is somewhat puzzling to outsiders, and last Wednesday’s developments will not help to make the position clearer.
The general result does not redound to the credit of the district, although it is manifestly unfair that the great bulk of the people should bear the odium attaching to the unfortunate bickerings and petty squabbles have been associated with this great question.
Very few people consent to be classed as anti-High Schoolites, but it is rather significant that ranged on the side of those oppose the granting of the old cricket ground as a site for the school are those who complain that “we are over-educated already,” and that “we are not prepared to be loaded with a tax to pay for a High School.”
It is strange, therefore, that people who hold these views were amongst the number who assembled to meet the Minister of Lands last Wednesday, when he visited Frankston to inspect sites, while those who have been foremost in the fight to obtain a High School at any price were never notified of the Ministers visit, and did not know that he had been in Frankston until they saw the brief announcement that appeared in last Wednesday’s “Standard.”
Naturally a feeling of great indignation exists that such a development should have been allowed to arise.
From inquiries since made it appears that the Minister of Lands wired to the Shire Secretary that he would be visiting Frankston on Wednesday and desired to meet one representative from “both Sides.”
Cr. Mason was approached by the Shire Secretary and consented to represent the Council, and Mr. Joseph McComb was asked to speak for the party opposing the use of the cricket ground as a school site.
Here apparently ended all “official” notifications.
Certainly, no whisper of the pending visit reached any of the ardent High School advocates, though why any secrecy should be deemed necessary is difficult to understand.
It is more difficult to understand why, if it was desirable in one quarter, it should not be equally desirable all round.
Cr. Oates was present, and everyone knows his attitude regarding the High School.
Why was not Cr. Wells, who has always been a consistent and enthusiastic supporter of the Council’s High School proposal also given an opportunity of being present?
Mr. L. J. Ward. (Secretary of the Peninsula Schools Association) who has done more to promote the High School movement than any other resident in the district, did not know of the Minister’s visit until it was all over.
Yet Mrs. Burton, Messrs. Petrie, Kelly and Croskell knew all about it and were on the ground awaiting the arrival of the Minister! No one would accuse Mrs. Burton, or Messrs. Petrie and Kelly of being High School advocates.
The “Standard,” of course, was not notified!
The “Standard” is not at present in favor at official headquarters, where the tail is industriously endeavoring to wag the dog!
In justice to Cr. Mason it must be said that when he saw the host from the “other side” assembled in full battle array, he explained to the Minster that his lack of reinforcements did not denote apathy on the part of the people he was representing.
He had been advised, he said, that the Minister had expressed a desire to meet two representatives; he was one of them.
The Minister then did his best to even things up a bit.
The old cricket ground site was inspected, after which a visit was made to the other side of the park.
Motor cars and cabs were requisitioned to convey the party, but it was found impossible, owing to the bad state of the road, to get within coo-ee of Cr. Oates’ pet spot!
The Minister appeared impressed with the argument of Cr. Mason that the land beyond Hastings Road was too far out of the town for a High School, and he promised to talk the matter over with the Minister of Education and see if some satisfactory arrangement could be arrived at in connection with the old cricket ground.
Cr. Mason suggested that if the land advocated by Mr. McComb was so admirable in every way as a site for a High School, would it not likewise prove an excellent cricket ground?
If so, would Mr. McComb consent to the old cricket reserve being used for the High School, and the land on Hastings Road utilised as a cricket ground?
Mr. McComb would not think of it. There were too many roads, he said, round about the Hastings Road site!
And so the farce continues!
It is morally certain that if the Minister of Lands could not make a straight out statement that the Hastings Road land was a suitable site for a High School, the Minister of Education will not consider it as a possible site for one moment.
Indeed, as was stated during the recent election campaign, the Education Department has already expressed the view that if the old cricket ground site is not made available, Frankston will not get its High School.
Cr. Oates says that no such statement was made. He characterises it as a lie, and blames his opponent’s committee for making false statements.
Cr. Oates assurances in High School matters should not be relied on, and all who are really anxious to see a High School established in Frankston should exert every ounce of influence they possess in persuading their fellow ratepayers to favor the old cricket ground site, and make the way clear for the Minister of Lands to make it over to the Education Department without opposition.
There are other towns along the line preparing to grasp the prize.
The Mayor of the Borough of Carrum has convened a public meeting to take steps to have a High School established at Chelsea.
Mordialloc is still in the field, and is, perhaps, the most dangerous rival of all.
It would be a lasting disgrace, to say nothing of a commercial calamity, if Frankston lost the school through a petty squabble over sites.
SEEING that Flinders is now and for a long time, likely to be utterly debarred (says an exchange) from the benefit of an every day railway service through the construction of the Red Hill line, it might be well worth considering the desirability of Flinders folk seeking a progressive way out by endeavouring to get a light, efficient char-a-banc motor service to run from Flinders right to Frankston, and so link up direct with the electric train to Melbourne.
If this were done, Flinders would be within 2½ hours of Melbourne instead of four hours or more of travel in dreary waggon-bunkers.
Flinders people have to pay railway taxes for nothing, but there is no reason why they should spend so much of their lives in old, drowsy, shell-back trains.
What is wanted is a good motor service, at strictly reasonable fares.
Another considerable advantage which would accrue if the suggestion to run motors direct to Frankston were adopted is that it would greatly facilitate the mails, for it would allow Flinders correspondents to get their letters delivered in Melbourne the day of writing.
At present if one posts a letter on Saturday afternoon it will not be delivered in the city till Tuesday morning, whereas Monday morning’s delivery would, under the proposed arrangement, be possible.
So long as Flinders is content to remain a back-block retreat for the few lovers of land, seascape and golf, so long must she fail to attract the many which would assuredly come when a one-day as well as a week-end trip were possible.
Again we say, Flinders, awake!
From the pages of the Frankston and Somerville Standard, 22 September 1922