I rise this morning to raise serious concerns about the Victorian Labor government’s failure to fund a number of schools in the Corangamite electorate which have urgent infrastructure needs. Under our government’s Gonski 2.0 needs based funding plan, we’re delivering an additional $23.5 billion to Australian schools over 10 years.
The Commonwealth provides 20 per cent of the funding to government schools, the states and territories provide the rest, and it is the states, in the case of Victoria, the Victorian Daniel Andrews government, which determine how this funding is spent. In Corangamite, our funding to government schools increases from $40.1 million this year to $48.8 million in four years’ time and then grows to $63.1 million in 2027. That’s record and growing funding, which makes the campaign by the likes of the Australian Education Union false and a farce.
Where there is genuine unfairness is in Premier Daniel Andrews’s discriminatory and inequitable decision not to provide capital funding to a number of schools in desperate need. I was very pleased to meet with the school council at Bellbrae Primary School with the member for South Barwon, Andrew Katos. The school needs between $6 million and $8 million for new classrooms, a new gym, art room, music room and library. Bellbrae now has more than 500 students. It’s a growing school, which Labor has all but ignored. Every school with more than 350 students in Victoria is meant to have its own gym, so why is Labor turning its back on Bellbrae and other schools and breaking its own rules?
Bellaire Primary School in Highton, with more than 600 students, is also desperate for more infrastructure. It’s so desperate for more classrooms that it is currently using hallways to extend their classroom spaces. The Bellaire school president, Steve Knuckey, believes the school needs $10 million in infrastructure upgrades urgently, but none of this was in the recent state budget.
At Winchelsea Primary School—which the member for Polwarth, Richard Riordan, and I visited late last week—a small capital grant of $352,000 to upgrade the library and fix the roof will be eaten up largely by the cost of asbestos removal. The asbestos must be removed from the school, but the Winchelsea school community should not have to pay the price, which is an estimated $100,000.
This is simply not good enough and, again, I call on Premier Daniel Andrews to fund the cost of asbestos removal in addition to the capital funding which has been provided. The Victorian Labor government need to provide fair and equitable funding to all schools in Corangamite.
18 June 2018