Mr MORRIS (Mornington) — I raise a matter this evening for the Minister for Education. The action I seek is that the minister refer sufficient funds to the 2017 budget to permit the commencement of urgently needed works at Osborne Primary School.
This is a matter that I have raised on a number of occasions in this Parliament. As I have previously advised the house, in 2014 then minister Dixon announced funding of $960 000 for the school.
Unfortunately, that was not a commitment that was kept by Labor, although to be fair, a modest amount has been allocated — in fact, a very modest amount. There have been two modest amounts, both from the condition assessment report process.
In contrast, the coalition committed a significant amount, and as I have also noted previously in the house, there was a legitimate expectation that an improving budgetary position would in fact allow a total rebuild.
In his response the current Minister for Education, Mr Merlino, indicated that he would ensure that Osborne was on his radar. If it is, then he will know that the school has a dedicated and skilled staff and excellent school leadership but that the condition of the fabric still lets the school down.
The paucity of funding provided by Labor means that no major works can be undertaken — in fact, only minor works, and then only in a piecemeal way. As the chair of the school council has noted in correspondence:
… my fear is that when the works from this allocation is complete, that our school grounds will resemble a patchwork quilt, rather than a playground. This round of funding I understand, is to be devoted to repairing water pipes and electrical cables all of which are located underground, and will see us lift sections of the sheltered area where our basketball courts are located.
That is precisely why this school needs to have the appropriate funds allocated — to allow those works to be undertaken, and undertaken in a way that enables completion.
Labor promised for many years that it would completely rebuild the school. Of course, like 200 others, that rebuild never eventuated. The school is now growing, and we need those decade-old promises kept.
To again quote the chair of the school council:
Our school is struggling to deliver a 21st century standard of education utilising 20th century infrastructure. We all want the best education for our children, but sometimes I feel that our 630-plus students, and growing, just have to make do with whatever we can put together.
This is a school community that has worked hard for a very long time. They have made a terrific contribution to the school, but they simply cannot rebuild it on their own. They need the government to provide this funding, and they need the government to do it in this budget.
I urge the minister not to let this plea fall again on deaf ears.
Legislative Assembly 8 February 2017