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Education Union supports Coalition call for BER review.

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Education Union supports Coalition call for BER review

The Australian Education Union has today joined the Coalition in calling for an immediate review of the BER, according to Christopher Pyne, Shadow Minister for Education.

“It is clear that the administration of the school halls program - worth nearly $15 billion of taxpayer funds - has become a chaotic mess,” said Mr Pyne.

“We have a part-time Education Minister who seems to have too many responsibilities to sort through this mess and stop the waste and mismanagement of taxpayers’ funds,” he said.

“We said last week that it was time for the Auditor General to step in and investigate whether changes need to be made. Now the Australian Education Union agrees a review is necessary as well. Their voice joins a chorus of criticism across the country from principals, school governing councils, parents, and building industry and education experts.

“The taxpayer is being left with an enormous debt burden, but this poorly targeted, inefficient and expensive program provides very poor value for money indeed.

- Hundreds of schools are being forced to accept “McSchool Hall” style demountables off the back of a truck, irrespective of what their local communities want. - Schools in some jurisdictions who wished to build new classrooms have been told that they have to build a stock-standard school hall - even when they already have one. - Many schools are not being allowed to use local builders, instead being forced to use

contractors from hundreds of km away, or even interstate, at much greater cost. - State Governments and State Government-approved contractors are raking in millions of dollars as costs to schools for their buildings are spiralling out of control. - Schools wishing to spend funds on energy-efficient air conditioning have been

refused. - School representatives have been gagged from speaking publicly about their concerns for fear of losing their funding altogether.

“The taxpayers of Australia deserve more than just expensive headlines for their $14.7 billion. If Julia Gillard won’t get involved and fix the management of this program, then the Auditor General needs to step in to do so.”

June 18, 2009

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