Education | June 05, 2019

Matters of public importance - Education Funding

Victorian Parliament - 5 June 2019 - Ms KEALY (Lowan) (15:03:21): It is fantastic to be able to make a contribution to today’s matter of public importance regarding investment in the education sector. I feel like there has been some duplicitous— A member interjected. Ms KEALY: It is a quick speech from me only because there are so few schools in the Lowan electorate that have been addressed in this budget. In fact this year’s budget has been absolutely devastating for so many schools right across country Victoria. I would like to just firstly address the schools in the Lowan electorate—and I notice the minister has not even got the guts to listen to how he has failed the Warracknabeal community and completely stuffed up the Warracknabeal education precinct. What a gutless wonder to be wandering out of the chamber after a swift little snide crack and then not have the guts to listen to how he has absolutely stuffed up that project in Warracknabeal. This was a project that The Nationals committed to delivering before the 2014 election. Labor was dragged kicking and screaming in 2016‑17 to deliver a paltry amount of money for the special development school (SDS) and the secondary school. Mr Richardson interjected. Ms KEALY: I hear from the member for Mordialloc, 'How much?’. I can tell you what: it was enough to build one-third of the SDS and half of the secondary college, to the point that now, with another pre-election commitment that The Nationals would have developed full funding for that school and got up properly opened, we are now in a situation where there have been two failed budgets from this Labor government to fix the mess of their own creation. We now have got a special development school which is one-third built— Mr Richardson interjected. Ms KEALY: What? You think that it is good? Because we are not in government they think the people in Warracknabeal should be penalised. That is completely disgraceful from the member for Mordialloc. The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for Lowan. Through the Chair, please. Ms KEALY: It is absolutely disgraceful that the member for Mordialloc thinks that the people of Warracknabeal, the students of Warracknabeal, should be penalised because they have got Daniel Andrews as Premier. Well, do you know what? They are being penalised with Daniel Andrews as Premier. Mr Richardson: On a point of order, Deputy Speaker, I ask the member for Lowan to withdraw. That is not what I was saying. I was saying that during the 57th Parliament they did nothing in government for the Warracknabeal community. I take great offence at what the member for Lowan said, and I ask her to withdraw. The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Lowan, you have been asked to withdraw, unconditionally. Ms KEALY: I withdraw. But the truth hurts, doesn’t it? Look at this SDS. The SDS have had to cut back the programs that are provided to the students. These are specific, specialised education programs for the students at the SDS. There was an agreement that these would be ceased for one year only until the Labor government provided additional funding to finish this project, and that was not delivered. So now these students have permanently lost these educational programs, which were designed specific to their needs. Further, you have got students who are still up at the secondary college, where there are cracks in the walls you can fit a fist in, where there is possum urine leaking through the ceiling, where there is an abundance of high-risk asbestos, which students are exposed to every day, which you have not funded for removal, which you promised to remove by 2020, which you have not delivered on and you have lied to the local people. So we have got the best laboratory, the best science lab, with Bunsen burners and fume cupboards all set up in the Warracknabeal Secondary College which is half built, which they cannot use because they are stuck up at the old site and cannot relocate fully down to the new site. It is now being used as a site where they are educating SDS students, and they cannot actually use the space because it is not purpose-built. Our secondary students are missing out in Warracknabeal, our SDS students are missing out in Warracknabeal, and you have done nothing. Labor have done nothing but simply turn their back on this community. I want to give full credit to the Warracknabeal community because they have developed a fantastic social media presence through the Warracknabeal education precinct project page. You look at it on Twitter and you look at what they are doing on Facebook—you look at how they are infiltrating media, and yet Labor still will not listen to them. These are students who are missing out. These are the next generation of nurses, the next generation of agronomists and the next generation of doctors in the region, and Labor is letting them down. It is complete and utter nonsense that Labor continue to talk about the values and priorities they have. We know what the priority are for the Labor government, and it is certainly not education for every single Victorian. They are certainly not delivering for all Victorians. They are missing out on delivering for the students who live in country Victoria, and it is an absolute disgrace and a shame and a blight on this government, and particularly the Premier and the Minister for Education, that they refuse to deliver on these key priority projects. It is not just the Warracknabeal education precinct that has missed out in my electorate. I remember when Minister Pulford came to Baimbridge College in Hamilton, assembled the students and promised those students—'We will give you $8.4 million’—to redevelop their school. This was a project that The Nationals also committed to before the election. But what happened in the budget papers? It was not in there. It is not even in the forward estimates. It is not in the list of schools that they expect to be built before the end of this term of Parliament. This was a blatant lie directly to the face of students who go to Baimbridge College in Hamilton, and I absolutely am appalled to think that the Premier or the minister or any of the speakers on the Labor side would dare to say that they are holding the values and priorities of this state first and foremost and that education is their number one priority—because, jeez, you are letting down a lot of students. There are so many other schools around our regions that you have completely missed out on. Swan Hill Specialist School—they do not have any private rooms. An allied health team is currently forced to set up in the hallways to see students who need support. This is completely unacceptable for SDS students. Wangaratta High School is looking for $5 million to finish the final stage of the school’s master plan, which includes a new basketball stadium to be used by the students as a community facility—a high priority for that region, but again Labor have failed to deliver. Cohuna Secondary College—the classrooms at the school are more than 50 years old. The school community is currently heavily involved in making sure the work that needs to be done is done. They are looking for funds to develop a master plan to upgrade the school, but are Labor listening? No, they are not, because they do not deliver good educational opportunities and outcomes for people who live in country Victoria. Benalla P–12 College—the Benalla community agreed to merge the two high schools and three primary schools to a single school way back in 2007, but now that it is complete the schools have merged but the school’s budget has been cut by $1.6 million, and of course they want to see that restored. They have got students who require these funds to get the best possible educational opportunities that they can have. Why is Labor cutting funding to education? It makes you think that everything that Labor says is not actually true. In fact what they seem to say is not what happens in real life. It is like a total charade when it comes to Victoria being the Education State. It is fortunate we are sort of brainwashed—that it is on our numberplates—but we are going to have a next generation of kids who will not even be able to read the number plates to think that we are in the Education State. It is an absolute disgrace, and it needs to be addressed. Seymour College—the rebuild is underway, but the college is still waiting on the funds for the final stage of the project. Again, it has not been delivered. Kyabram P–12 College needs funding for a complete regeneration project that has stalled since—guess what—Daniel Andrews has been Premier. As I said, Baimbridge College and the Warracknabeal education precinct—a massive failure and a lie to these local people, letting down local students. Horsham Primary School—this is a really important school in the Horsham community. It looks after some amazing kids, and it has got a really high number of kids from Aboriginal backgrounds. There are chunks of wall falling off, and there is difficulty for students in wheelchairs to access the building—again, not funded by the Andrews Labor government. They turn a blind eye. Members interjecting. The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for Hastings, member for Mordialloc, please stop yelling across the chamber. Ms KEALY: Over in eastern Victoria the Latrobe Special Developmental School have had no work to upgrade. Traralgon College—no funding. Hazelwood North Primary School is an old school. It desperately needs upgrades to give these students the best possible start in life—again, not funded. Foster Primary School is looking for an additional $2.5 million to complete the rebuild—not funded. Bairnsdale Secondary College needs $15 million for stage 2 of its redevelopment—not funded. So to Labor MPs who are making these contributions about how much Labor are looking after the educational opportunities of people who live in Victoria, have a good look at that data, because the evidence suggests that you are completely wrong. The evidence suggests that you are setting up a second-class group of citizens who are not going to have the best educational opportunities and start to life. And certainly we will not be able to look back and remember this time as a time when this government delivered to create the best possible educational opportunities for our region. The one thing that I do agree with that has been mentioned by previous speakers from the other side is that this is all about Labor’s values and priorities. Their values and priorities are completely out of order. The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired.

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