What now for Scopus relocation?

Mount Scopus principal Rabbi James Kennard (left) with Labor’s Josh Burns at Caulfield Hospital. Photo: Simon Kosmer

THE election result has thrown a big question mark over a $5 million feasibility study into a site-sharing arrangement between Mount Scopus College and a redeveloped Caulfield Hospital at the hospital’s Kooyong Road premises. 

The AJN understands from sources that the co-location project will proceed, even though Labor – which proposed the study – lost the election.

Macnamara candidate Josh Burns had pledged a Bill Shorten government would undertake the study, but Burns, who was elected as the MP for Macnamara on May 18, said that the ball was now in the Morrison government’s court.

The study into the bold ­co-location move – which would see Mount Scopus College selling its Burwood property to neighbouring Deakin University and moving into Caulfield, near where most of its students live – was announced by Burns during the election campaign.

At a March 31 media conference at Caulfield Hospital, Burns had pledged that a Shorten government would “do the hard work to enable the relocation of Mount Scopus to Caulfield, so students can spend more time in their local community and less time on buses”.

Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus, who was with Burns at that announcement, said at the time the relocation “would make a vast difference to many families”. Dreyfus later said he and Burns had already spoken to Jewish schools and the study’s parameters would be wide enough to consider a stake for other schools.

The study pledge – also announced by the Mount Scopus board on the school’s Facebook page – drew ire from some Mount Scopus supporters, who saw it as politically one-sided. 

Others noted there was no visible commitment from the Victorian government, which would need to be a major partner in any development.

With the unexpected Coalition victory, Burns responded to inquiries by The AJN, stating, “As the honour of holding government lies with the Coalition, it is up to [federal Treasurer] Josh Frydenberg if he wants to begin this exciting project.”

At the time of going to press, The AJN had not received any comment from Mount Scopus College, from Frydenberg or Premier Daniel Andrews.

PETER KOHN