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Wednesday, 23 June 2004
Page: 31395

Mr ROSS CAMERON (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (9:55 AM) —Today I rise to address the bad news and the good news of education in Parramatta. The bad news is that I regret to have to inform the House that the member for Jagajaga yesterday badly misled parliament. She walked into the House and said during question time:

My question is to the Minister for Education, Science and Training. Is the minister aware that the massive capital upgrade at the King's School in Sydney for a $16 million learning and leadership centre opened by the Deputy Prime Minister—of course, an old King's boy ... Can the minister inform the House how much of the $17 million increase this school is receiving from the Howard government funded this extraordinary facility ...

The principal of the school has sent me a letter. I knew that figure to be wildly inaccurate and asked the principal of the school for a statement as to the actual cost of the facility. He wrote:

Mr Ross Cameron, MP


The Centre for Leadership and Learning at The King's School was completed in January 2003.

The building contract given to Hilliers was to construct a building which was not to exceed $5.1 million exclusive of fees and fit-out. Of this $5.1 million, $3 million was raised by an appeal and the balance was borrowed from the bank.

Jenny Macklin is only $10 million out. The most elementary inquiries from the school would have confirmed that. Regardless of the fact that she might take the view that every parent of the King's School is rich and greedy, she still owes basic obligations to the parliament to uphold the standing orders in relation to misleading the House. She should come into the House today and apologise for that either deliberate deception or breathtaking incompetence.

The good news is that the last time I walked into the chamber I came in grieving for the plight of the Kingsdene Special School in my electorate, which, as you will recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, is a school which looks after 20 kids with profound disabilities, most of them with the most severe cases of a range of syndromes but essentially none of them having oral skills. They are at primary and early high school age and most of them do not have basic continence. The school was going to have to close because it was $1 million in the hole every year to Anglicare. A number of parents, Marylou Carter leading the charge, protested this in a fabulous statement of faith and defiance. It is my great pleasure to inform the House today that, as a result of the responsiveness of Brendan Nelson, the Minister for Education, Science and Training, and, to be fair, of the New South Wales government—both Andrew Refshauge and one of the other ministers—we are happy to say that the school is funded and will remain open. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Order! In accordance with standing order 275A, the time for members' statements has concluded.