Schools Funding and Jobs Creation

About this Item
SpeakersSpeaker; Piccoli Mr Adrian; Firth Ms Verity
BusinessQuestions Without Notice, QWN

Page: 14622

Mr ADRIAN PICCOLI: My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Training. Given the Minister told the House, "There is no higher priority for the Rees Government than creating new jobs for families in New South Wales", can she explain why two-thirds of the Federal funding for New South Wales schools to build demountables is going to a Victorian firm and funding 96 new Victorian jobs, when businesses in western Sydney and regional New South Wales could have fulfilled the contract?

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for East Hills to order. I call the member for Murray-Darling to order. I call the member for Coffs Harbour to order for the second time.

Ms VERITY FIRTH: There is no higher priority for this Government than the creation and protection of jobs in New South Wales. That is why we are spending $56 billion on infrastructure investment in New South Wales, which will underpin more than 150,000 jobs each year for the next four years. This is the largest infrastructure spend of any government in Australia. The Government is also well on its way to implementing the Building the Education Revolution in New South Wales schools, on top of a significant State infrastructure spend. This is the largest school infrastructure project ever undertaken in the history of this State. To give an idea of how tough it is, I will compare it to the Sydney Olympics, which was also delivered by a Labor Government. In comparison, we are spending double the budget in 40 per cent of the time and with 100 times as many projects.

In relation to the so-called demountables issue, the overwhelming majority of the new buildings being delivered in the Building the Education Revolution will be fully constructed on site. A very small percentage of projects, such as new libraries and some classrooms, will be pre-fabricated permanent buildings. In order to meet the Commonwealth Government's strict time frames on the Building the Education Revolution, the Government placed an order for 162 prefabricated buildings when the program was announced. These companies already provide quality buildings to New South Wales public schools using the same designs that we will use in the Building the Education Revolution and they were able to fill the order to the specifications of the Department of Education and Training. In order to get the work started quickly to help stimulate the economy and to create jobs as soon as possible, this was the best option. The orders placed for prefabricated buildings are only 1.4 per cent of the total works we will undertake as part of Building the Education Revolution.

The SPEAKER: Order! Members will cease interjecting.

      Ms VERITY FIRTH: They are permanent buildings constructed elsewhere and moved on site and with all the services and finishes completed at the school. These libraries are already in a number of schools and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. These structures are just one option and schools are being consulted about the best options for their school, depending on funding available to them. In March, together with the Premier, I visited one of the companies that will construct these new buildings—a family run business called Eastern Nomad that is located in Blacktown. To complete our order, the company increased its workforce from 60 to 90 employees, including four new apprentices. The order supported up to an additional 18 jobs with suppliers and subcontractors. This is an example of how the stimulus package spending is being used by this Government to support, protect and create jobs in New South Wales. This is the highest priority of our Government. It is pretty rich for the Opposition to attack the stimulus package when its comrades in the Federal Parliament voted against the $42 billion stimulus package.
The SPEAKER: Order! Government members will cease interjecting.

      Ms VERITY FIRTH: At a time when global recession is upon us, their friends in Federal Parliament voted against the $4.9 billion that will be spent in our schools in New South Wales. They voted against that great stimulus to the economy, which will create jobs and save Australia from the worst impacts of this recession.

      Mr Adrian Piccoli: Point of order: My point of order relates to Standing Order 129. I asked a serious question. I have received calls from businesses in western Sydney who were not even asked to do this work. We want an explanation from the Government.
The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Murrumbidgee will resume his seat. The Minister has concluded her answer.