Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (10:49): We have had a lot of talk in this country about an ideas boom, but how do you have an ideas boom if you are a dud on school funding? In last night’s federal budget, Malcolm Turnbull committed to Tony Abbott’s school cuts.
If the federal government, through Malcolm Turnbull, cuts school funding, what happens in Mike Baird’s patch? Well, this is the impact. The New South Wales education department has released documents that show the full extent of how schools in New South Wales are crumbling because of a massive $732 million maintenance backlog. That is 2,000 maintenance jobs in government schools as at 30 June last year—it does not even take into account this year’s backlog. According to the New South Wales Auditor-General, between 2013-14 and 2014-15 that maintenance backlog jumped nearly 40 per cent—nearly $200 million in just one year. It is growing faster than the maintenance spend across the state, meaning broken and faulty facilities across many schools will frankly never be up to scratch. Across 400 schools, the types of repairs that are waiting include worn carpets that are becoming a safety hazard; overflowing sewerage in schools, which is disgraceful; and playgrounds that are failing to meet safety standards. This is what will keep happening if we do not clear the maintenance bill, and it is unlikely that the New South Wales government will catch up with fixing these schools.
In the electorate I represent, there are schools in Mount Druitt that are waiting for these types of repairs. For example, there are two Chifley College campuses that are waiting on more than $1 million in works. Bidwill Campus is listed at $1.2 million, and at the Dunheved Campus, which a lot of students from the Chifley electorate attend, over $1 million in repairs are waiting to be done. At Rooty Hill High School, a massive school in my area, nearly $800,000 worth of repairs are required; at Tregear Public School, it is nearly $700,000.
These are absolutely alarming figures and they come on top of recent reports highlighting the Baird government’s failure to cope with building new and upgraded schools to meet Sydney’s growing population. The Baird Liberal government needs to urgently inject funds into this project, but they are placed even further behind when the Turnbull government cuts their funding even further. This is what happens—the snowball effect. If the federal government cuts funds, the state government looks to save money by holding back on maintenance, and that is causing safety hazards in New South Wales schools.
Our locals should not bear the brunt of Tony Abbott’s and then Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts. Certainly overcrowded schools and buildings in disrepair are simply not good enough. If we want quality education, it should happen in a quality education environment.