The Australian’s campaign against the “education revolution debacle”, which faltered badly on Saturday when it had to essentially retract much of its story about funding for “axed schools”, limps on today with an issue by Christopher Pyne yesterday about the South Australian Government’s education capital works budget falling this year. South Australian budget papers show that in recent years the capital budget has, like you’d expect of a capital program, moved up and down between $52m and $76m and was $70m this year and will be $62m next year. That is apparently evidence of cost-shifting, though, and was duly given a run.
The story also noted “in question time, Ms Gillard rounded on critics of the Building the Education Revolution program, rejecting criticism that grants were being paid to schools that were earmarked for closure or amalgamation.”
No mention, oddly, of who those critics were and no mention of The Oz itself, which featured prominently in Gillard’s response, which was about as comprehensive a demolition as you’ll get.
Ms BIRD (2.36 pm) — My question is to the Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on recent media reports about the Building the Education Revolution program?
Ms GILLARD — I thank the member for Cunningham for her question… Let me make the facts very clear. The Australian reported on 12 June that Inala West State School, which is amalgamating with Inala State School, would be receiving $125,000 for classroom upgrades. The fact is that, as Inala West State School is to be closed and amalgamated with Inala State School, 100 per cent of the funding will go to Inala State School for classroom upgrades — the continuing school.
The Australian reported on 12 June that Richlands State School, which is amalgamating with Richlands East State School, would be receiving $75,000 for classroom upgrades. The fact is that 100 per cent of this funding will go to Richlands East State School — the school that is continuing.
The Australian reported on 12 June that Dinmore State School, which is amalgamating with Riverview State School, would be receiving $75,000 for classroom upgrades. The fact is that 100 per cent of this funding will go to Riverview State School — the school that is continuing.
The Australian reported on 12 June that Bremer State High School, which is moving to a new site, would be receiving $200,000 for revegetation and a fitness track. The fact is that these facilities are for the new site.
The Australian reported on 12 June — and I am sure the shadow minister will be interested in this — that Gepps Cross Primary School, before it merges into a new super school in 18 months time, will be receiving $125,000 to be spent on fixing a toilet block. The fact is that the Building the Education Revolution funds for Gepps Cross Primary School were approved for information and communication technology at the amalgamated site and the funds will be used for this purpose. The South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services has advised my department that the school will not be using any Building the Education Revolution funds to fix toilets and drainage and that any maintenance for toilets and drainage would be funded by the state government…
We will continue to work with those people of goodwill. We understand that from time to time in a program of this size there will be complaints and concerns. We have responded to a number of those. All we ask in the course of this process is that people of goodwill continue to work together to get the program delivered, and obviously we would prefer if, when reporting on these matters, there was some accuracy in the reports.