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Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Page: 4267

Mr BIDGOOD (2:48 PM) —Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the minister update the House on the impact that Building the Education Revolution is having on jobs in local communities?

Ms GILLARD (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —I thank the member for Dawson for his question. I note that in the member for Dawson’s electorate there are 216 projects that are being invested in through the government’s economic stimulus. Of these, 201 are Building the Education Revolution projects in local schools. The member for Dawson knows that that is great news for his local schools and great news for local jobs. He also knows, of course, that the Liberal Party is opposed to each and every one of those projects in his electorate because the Liberals are all about talking the economy down while we build the nation up.

The member for Dawson would also know that the projects in his electorate are being joined by projects right around the country in almost 10,000 schools. This is being well received right around the country. The endorsements for this program have been flooding in. To take just one example in the member for Grey’s electorate, a primary school on the Yorke Peninsula, where Nick Goodge says:

This is seriously once-in-a-lifetime stuff. It’s a really exciting prospect for a little school.

This is an endorsement about how important this is for local schools. But of course this is also important for local jobs. The Leader of the Opposition has been known to say that Building the Education Revolution is a poor quality spend and that it will not support any jobs. Well, Australians in local communities know the truth and the truth is Building the Education Revolution is there supporting local jobs. To take one example, in the Australian on 8 May there was a report about the impact Building the Education Revolution was having on architectural services. It says:

Within a week of the federal Government’s announcement of a $14.7 billion schools upgrade program, Law Architects had 10 new projects on its books, worth $20 million.

Not in [their] lifetime had the economy been so bad—and business quite so good.

The article goes on to quote Ms Law, of the business, who says:

When the announcement came out, we were leaping for joy, and when the phones kept ringing we kept leaping …

We are flat out. We haven’t been this busy for many years …

Another firm, which specialises in building and architecture for education facilities, is in the process of hiring up to 12 architects in order to deal with the economic stimulus work. Given the National Party has been left in charge of the House today, we might note that in the member for Riverina’s electorate her local newspapers are noting that the Building the Education Revolution program is supporting local jobs. One of her local newspapers reports that Laing O’Rourke will manage the overall project and its time frames and has been inundated with applications from the local department of commerce, accredited builders, tradespeople and small businesses with school experience who want to play a role in the program. He is going to base teams in the local area in order to back this program.

Then we have the endorsement from the contractor responsible for overseeing the maintenance at a school called Alexandria Park Community School. The head of that contractor says that ‘there is little doubt that several of those small and medium-sized businesses would not have survived the global financial crisis without benefiting from government infrastructure contracts’. So the evidence is clear from people in local communities who are in touch with what is happening in their communities. On the other side of this House, all we see is continued opportunism. Depending on the moment, they will blurt out whatever comes into their mind next. In terms of blurting out whatever comes into their mind next, some days they blurt out ‘debt’ and ‘deficit’. Some days they blurt out that they proudly voted no. Some days the member for Gilmore and others are going thumbs up for local projects. Some days the member for Wentworth is trying to get himself into the local photograph. People obviously notice this cheap opportunism and these inconsistencies. The members opposite, in their embarrassment and shame because they did not stand up for jobs in their local communities, are yelling out, but the Australian community knows the truth. This side of the House stands for Building the Education Revolution; this side of the House stands for supporting local jobs; this side of the House stands for building the infrastructure we need for tomorrow. Those opposite stand for talking the economy down and the sort of carping we have just seen.