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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5899

Mr HAASE (3:23 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Education. Will the minister explain why her National School Pride program prohibits schools from installing air conditioning in existing classrooms that have none and why, as a consequence, children in dozens of schools across my electorate of Kalgoorlie will continue to swelter or be sent home on all-too-frequent hot days?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for his question, which I am very happy to answer. I suggest that perhaps he needs to have a discussion with his shadow minister, because what his shadow minister said in the last question is that he is concerned that state governments are not maintaining effort on education capital and equipment, whereas the member has raised a question with me which would seem to suggest the only source of funding available to schools for things like air conditioning is Building the Education Revolution. Building the Education Revolution is for specific purposes. Amongst the specific purposes is the construction of new buildings and those buildings can be air conditioned. Of course, on general repairs for schools and the air conditioning of classrooms, that is something that state governments attend to for state schools. So he may want to raise his question with the state Liberal government—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Sturt will leave the chamber for one hour under 94(a).

The member for Sturt then left the chamber.

Ms GILLARD —What the guidelines provide—and the guidelines are very clear—is for newly constructed buildings under Primary Schools for the 21st Century as part of Building the Education Revolution. Of course, appropriate climate control, whether it be air conditioning or heating, can be installed. National School Pride program money can go to small-scale repairs and it is going to shadecloth and some of the other important things in schools. It is not going to air conditioning; that is true. As the member would be aware, a substantial consideration with the insertion of air conditioning in schools is the ongoing costs of running the air conditioning. He would know, from the climate he comes from, that the capital cost of putting in the air conditioning is one thing; the year-on-year power cost is another. We have obviously said to state governments, as we have gone about this task, that our economic stimulus is extra to the things that they ordinarily do. One of the things that they ordinarily do is work out how to renovate classrooms for climate control, including an understanding of what the ongoing recurrent costs of that would be. We have said to state governments that, with major constructs under Primary Schools for the 21st Century, appropriate climate control will be part of the fit-out, as will the things required to make buildings functional, including in some cases interactive whiteboards and the like. Those things are all part of the program.

I can understand that the member is disgruntled about the circumstances in his electorate for some of the children who attend school in his electorate. On the question of air conditioning for current school facilities, he should feel very free to direct that to the state minister for education in his state of Western Australia.