Parkes High School Airconditioning

About this Item
SubjectsSchools; Public Works
SpeakersSpeaker; Stoner Mr Andrew; Refshauge Dr Andrew
BusinessQuestions Without Notice

Page: 11702

    Mr ANDREW STONER: My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Training. With Parkes experiencing 35 degree temperatures already and with the Department of Education and Training advising teachers to squirt children with water bottles and to sit them under the shade of trees, will the Minister guarantee that Parkes High School will be fully airconditioned before summer arrives, finally fulfilling his obligations to give the 800 students a decent learning environment?

    Dr ANDREW REFSHAUGE: Under the Liberal Coalition government those schools never had any airconditioning. We already have airconditioning in a significant number of classrooms at Parkes High School and we are looking at putting further airconditioning into Parkes High School as well. We announced recently another $10.5 million in funding to put airconditioning into more classrooms across New South Wales. Every demountable classroom will be airconditioned by this Government. Not only that, ahead of time: they will be completed before first term next year. The Liberal Coalition government never had them air-conditioned. They sat there and allowed the students to swelter in the heat. We are airconditioning them and an extra $10.5 million is going into it.

    We look at the isotherm band across the State, and schools that are in the hottest areas of the State are always the first to get air cooling or airconditioning. The Coalition Government used isotherm 32; that is, schools in areas that experienced temperatures of more than 32 degrees centigrade on average in January, in the hottest periods of time, were eligible for airconditioning. We brought that down to 30 degrees centigrade. We have airconditioned an additional 167 schools that the Coalition was prepared to leave sweltering.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order.

    Dr ANDREW REFSHAUGE: We are also making sure that the teachers and principals have the ability to control what goes on in the school so that if the temperature does get too hot they are able to send the kids elsewhere, to home or wherever. That is a reasonable thing to do. There is no doubt that the Coalition Government did nothing. This Government is providing the airconditioning that the Coalition Government refused. It is interesting that when the spokesperson on education decided to tell us about the schools that she wanted to have airconditioned she started talking about private schools as well. Somehow she thought that it would be a great idea—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister has the call. He is entitled to answer the question he has been asked without being subjected to the totally nonsensical caterwauling and unintelligible shouting that is occurring at present. That behaviour demeans the Chamber and must cause those in the public gallery to wonder what we are doing here.

    Dr ANDREW REFSHAUGE: In a press release on 19 February the Opposition spokesperson on education said that James Sheenan High School needed airconditioning. That is strange because it is a private school in Orange. All of a sudden she wants the Government to put airconditioning into private schools. No wonder the Coalition was thrown out. She wanted to use State Government money for airconditioning in a private school in Orange.

    Mrs Jillian Skinner: Point of order: I don't discriminate against the schools. I believe all children, including those at private high schools, should have airconditioning.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! For that outburst I call the honourable member for North Shore to order. She will resume her seat. She knows as well as every other member that being given the call to take a point of order does not entitle a member to debate the matter about which a Minister is speaking during question time.

    Dr ANDREW REFSHAUGE: The Treasurer will be very interested to hear this. And what about the shadow Treasurer? Here is the Opposition promise: aircondition every private school through the State Government's taxpayers. That is what the honourable member just said. How many hundreds of millions of dollars will that be? Or is the Opposition going to back down on its promise before the day is out? It will be interesting to see what happens. We have already put airconditioning into a number of the classrooms in Parkes High School. We have put extra airconditioning into demountables throughout that area; we are airconditioning schools like Trundle and public schools, and we are also looking at putting further airconditioning into Parkes High School as well.