NSW govt to rebuild high school with private funding

Monday, May 22, 2006

Kelso High School was destoyed by fire in August, 2005

New South Wales minister for Education and Training, Carmel Tebbutt told parliament that Kelso High School, which was destroyed by fire on August 18, 2005 will be rebuilt under the NSW government's New Schools Public Private Partnerships (PPP) program. Under the program, the bulk of construction costs come from private companies who own the schools for 30 years, after which time they revert to government ownership.

The PPP program began in October 2001. According to the government, 19 schools will be delivered under the PPP program by 2009.

The announcement follows Member for Bathurst, Gerard Martin's statement to parliament on September 14, 2005 that the government would be rebuilding the school at a cost of $18 to $25 million. "The Government has accepted the responsibility of the $18 million to $25 million to rebuild the school, which is proceeding post haste" he said.

The PPP announcement has been seen as a backflip by the government.

When approached by Wikinews, Brad Hazzard, the opposition's education spokesperson said that the coalition did not have a formal policy in this area but generally were supportive of the PPP program so long as infrastructure and maintenance are addressed.

Australian Greens education spokesperson, John Kaye, said that problems were already emerging with the PPP program in NSW. In March 2006, it was revealed that the government had to negotiate an exit strategy so that after school hours child care could be provided. In a media release provided to Wikinews, Dr Kaye said, "Yet another flaw in a NSW Public Private Partnership (PPP) has been uncovered. Just like the Cross City Tunnel, the community suffered because the contract failed to protect the quality of service delivery,"

“After numerous complaints from parents, the Iemma government had to negotiate an exit strategy from the contract to provide out-of-school-hours childcare. Corporate giant ABC Learning which had purchased the original provider, Peppercorn, was clearly not interested in the expensive end of childcare".

Dr Kaye also pointed out that an Auditor general’s report found alarming evidence that the basis for PPP in NSW could be based on unreliable financial models. Dr Kaye said that the Auditor General has "cast a very large shadow" over the government's claimed savings from the PPP program.

“It appears that the NSW government does not know with any degree of certainty how much it would cost to perform the same function in the public sector. Any attempt to say that private sector control is cheaper is now fraught with danger,"

“The Auditor General’s report proves that the methodology used by the Government to estimate the costs of public sector provision is highly unreliable and suspect" said Dr Kaye.

Both Carmel Tebbutt and Gerard Martin gave no response when contacted by Wikinews.

"Destroyed Kelso High School to be rebuilt" — Wikinews, December 22, 2005


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.