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Transcript of radio interview with Marius Benson: ABC News Radio: Friday, 28 August 2009: Building the Education Revolution.

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The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister for Social Inclusion Deputy Prime Minister

28 August, 2009


Radio Interview - ABC News Radio - 750AM Friday


ISSUES: Building the Education Revolution

MARIUS BENSON: Julia Gillard, good morning.

JULIA GILLARD: Good morning, Marius.

MARIUS BENSON: Now there does seem to be some criticism of the Government’s handling of this vast spending project that was designed to stave off a recession that was in fact didn’t happen here. The summary if I could read it to you of Mike Mrdak’s finding, he’s the Coordinator General, the Commonwealth Coordinator General. Roughly he has said that the $42 billion spending program revealed poor program design, inaccurate cost estimates and excessive prices tendered by contractors which contributed to too much spending and careless spending.

JULIA GILLARD: Marius, what the Government decided to do in the face of the global recession was to devote $42 billion to building infrastructure we need for tomorrow in order to support 210,000 jobs today. And you just indicated in your introduction that this country hasn’t entered a recession and our Economic Stimulus Package, supporting expenditure, supporting jobs has helped cushion our economy from the full force of the global recession which has taken hold in economies around the world and driven advanced economies into recession. So if we compare ourselves with comparable countries, then we have cushioned ourselves from the effects of the global recession through this Stimulus Package.

What our Coordinator General is saying is he’s provided a progress report and he said in view of the progress report, with the actual experience of the programs rolling out on the ground

now, some adjustments should be made to the package and the Government’s responded to that and we’re doing that.

MARIUS BENSON: Do you accept then that there has been excessive spending, careless spending in the rush to get the money out to stave off the feared recession?

JULIA GILLARD: What I accept is when you’re doing something this big, this quickly, obviously there are going to be bumps along the way and indeed the Prime Minister and I were saying that from the first day that this Stimulus Package was announced; we did say that there would be bumps along the way. We’ve learned from those and obviously we’re learning from the advice of the Coordinator General.

But the effect of this package has been to support jobs now whilst we build the infrastructure we need for tomorrow and in my own area of Building the Education Revolution, what we’ve seen is primary schools grab this opportunity with both hands. We’ve had huge demand because people do want to modernise their school so that they can offer a better education for kids. And in other parts of Building the Education Revolution, we’ve seen efficiencies, things done more cheaply than we were expecting. So it makes sense to reallocate money from the things that have been able to be achieved at a lower cost to those things that are getting huge demand.

MARIUS BENSON: What’s been the worst bump on the road, the most severe example of excessive spending in retrospect?

JULIA GILLARD: I would say the things we’ve learned have been about the demand for these programs. In my area what we’ve seen of course is primary schools right around the country wanting to be involved in Primary Schools for the 21st Century. Now initially we thought that there may be some schools who didn’t want to participate in the program. That hasn’t turned out to be the case. Basically every school wants to be in program. But at the same time, we’ve learned that we can deliver science and language laboratories at a lower coast than initially predicted.

MARIUS BENSON: Julia Gillard, thank you very much.

JULIA GILLARD: Thanks very much, Marius. Thank you.


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