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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5540

Mr HALE (3:05 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and the Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on recent media coverage of Building the Education Revolution and the impact of the program in the Northern Territory? This is a serious question.

Opposition members interjecting—

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Solomon for his question and for his interest in supporting jobs and schools. I also thank him for his interest in a strong economy and in making sure that Australian working people can get a fair share, particularly through having a quality school for their children to go to. I noticed the interjection from the other side. Obviously, we know that it is this side of the House that believes in a strong economy, in supporting jobs and in giving Australians a fair share through a good school. In the member for Solomon’s own electorate he voted for, and those opposite voted against, 20 libraries, seven classrooms, 16 multipurpose halls, three early learning centres, four language centres and one science centre.

On this side of the House, we voted for 24,000 projects in individual schools and those on that side of the House voted against them. On this side of the House, we voted for what has formed one-third of the economic activity in the non-residential sector over the last 12 months to April and those on that side of the House voted against that economic activity—a third of the economic activity in that sector and a third of the jobs.

In dealing with Building the Education Revolution as economic stimulus, the program has been rolled out quickly. With 24,000 projects, we have always said that there would be school communities that were delighted with their projects, that there were school communities that would have some concerns, including concerns about value for money.

Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Solomon specifically asked his own minister to comment on media reports and I am waiting to hear about a quote in the Australian on her policies.

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for O’Connor will resume his seat. The Deputy Prime Minister is responding to the question.

Ms GILLARD —Thank you, Mr Speaker. Of course, we have always said that there will be school communities delighted and some that needed assistance and had concerns. That is why we created the Building the Education Revolution Implementation Taskforce. We need to be dealing with the facts. That brings me to a report in today’s Australian newspaper which suggested that a project in the Larrakeyah Primary School in Darwin was poor, that the school was unhappy and that the project was of such poor value that it was even smaller than the local McDonald’s. I advise the House that I have today spoken to the school principal, Mr Graham Chadwick. He advises me and I advise the House of the following. He says that in his school Building the Education Revolution has been a fantastic program from the start. As soon as it was announced, he started work with the school council’s infrastructure committee.

A former student of the school, Hully Liveris, serves on that committee. He is an architect and his wife Emma teaches part time in the school. Hully, the school principal Graham, and Richard Wiltshire, who is president of the school council, the commander of the local Larrakeyah base and a former student of the school, worked with Des Hodges, the project manager appointed by the Northern Territory education department to deliver transformational change to that school and they are delighted with it. The school is growing in numbers because the Defence Force base is growing in numbers. At the same time the school serves around 120 students who live in apartment developments in Darwin, part of the new residential construction in that city. This meant that the school needed additional classrooms but was very concerned to keep its local play area available, particularly for the kids who live in the apartments.

The SPEAKER —The Deputy Prime Minister will resume her seat. I am not sure whether the Manager of Opposition Business is trying things on but I think he might decide to have a look at standing order 62 and resume his seat and not stay in the aisles. He has been given a fair go. The Deputy Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD —As a result, the school community worked to deliver a project which is delivering an extended assembly hall with an integrated canteen which is big enough for the whole school community. The entrance to the school has been remodelled and redesigned so that it is now near this assembly area. This means that kids from the local Defence Force base can come into school without having to go near the area where the cars are—obviously safer. As a result of this development, the old canteen, which was in the middle of the play area used by the early education facility has been demolished. A demountable which was on a strip of under-used land close to the boundary with the Defence Force base has been removed and another school will benefit from that demountable. The five new classrooms have been placed there. As a result of this design, there is an additional space in the assembly hall, the new canteen, five new classrooms and additional play areas to that which were in the original design of the school.

In addition, the old Cyclone fencing has been removed and replaced with powder coated pool fencing. There is a feature timber wall on one side of the school as a barrier between them and local industrial projects which are on the other side. All fittings and furniture have been included like interactive white boards in each of the classrooms, desks, chairs, industrial fridges, bain-maries, and the list goes on. The principal says that he is delighted with the project and so is the local P&C.

The member for Solomon is very familiar with this school and would be able to give interested members further details of this Building the Education Revolution project. The member for Solomon also advises me that he has some passing familiarity with the local McDonald’s to which it has been compared. What he says is that the local McDonald’s is small, predominantly designed to facilitate drive-through on two sides—that is, it is big in car park, big in drive-through but a relatively small building. Anybody requiring further details of that may also choose to ask the member for Solomon.

All of this adds up to the fact that in dealing with the Building the Education Revolution I want to get value for money. The government wants to get value for money. In order to do that, each and every day we need to deal with the facts. I have advised the House of the facts about Larrakeyah Primary School as explained to me by the school principal.