Auditor-General: Implementation of School Infrastructure Programs (06.03.2013)
Written on the 12 March 2013I am pleased to rise and speak on the Victorian Auditor-General's report entitled Implementation of School Infrastructure Programs dated February 2013. I think all members in the chamber would agree that education is an extremely important aspect of government administration, and we invest a huge amount in our education services and our children. My speech is concerned with infrastructure programs. In previous contributions in this place I have spoken about projects and programs that were undertaken by the Labor government. This report also highlights some significant failings by the Labor government in relation to maintenance backlogs. We know that the federal government takes great delight in its Building the Education Revolution (BER) program -- --
Mrs Petrovich -- They are big on revolutions.
The federal government takes great delight in that program, but it was almost a one-size-fits-all approach, and questionable undertakings went on in relation to a number of those BER programs. There are a number of schools in my electorate of Southern Metropolitan Region, as is the case with most members in this place, and those schools of course vary. Various BER programs have been undertaken, and I have questioned some of them. In many instances they seem to be extremely unnecessary or not exactly what school communities wanted or expected. In other schools there are a number of good facilities, such as science and mathematics facilities. Nevertheless, we know that there has been a blow-out in those BER programs and that that has had a significant impact.
When the coalition came to government it made an undertaking that it would perform a maintenance audit; that was a pre-election promise.
The audit showed there were 27 000 school buildings, and the government assessed 1539 government schools. These are large numbers. The total value of school building assets is $10.7 billion, so this is a significant portfolio area and it requires significant input to maintain these services.
Caulfield Primary School, just down the road from my office, severely lacks maintenance in one particular area. It has a very flash hall sitting on the pavement, which was constructed through BER, yet it has ceilings falling in and insufficient staff rooms. The school's building funds could have been better utilised if the federal government had addressed the concerns of the local community and the school. Nevertheless, I am pleased the coalition government undertook that audit and has a baseline from which to work. Despite the billions of dollars that were spent on programs such as BER, the audit revealed a massive $420 million in maintenance backlog.
I am pleased the Victorian government has looked at this closely and will spend $51.5 million at more than 200 schools on urgent maintenance following a decade of the former Labor government's neglect in this area. It knows how to spend and throw money away, yet it does not consider its local communities or what they want. This report highlighted those aspects, and I commend the Auditor-General for his report.