Government fails to deliver on its promise to refurbish older public schools

The 2015/16 ACT Budget was announced today but the Government has still not delivered on the commitments it made prior to the last election.

The ACT Branch of the Australian Education Union acknowledges a number of welcome initiatives announced in today’s budget. Allocation of funding for a specialist Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Centre at Caroline Chisholm High School is a positive development. Significant new investment in Belconnen High is also welcomed, although it is disappointing that the commitment falls $8 million short of what was promised prior to the election. 

Despite some positive initiatives, today’s budget represents yet another failure by the ACT Government to deliver on its election commitment to invest $70m of new money in school infrastructure. In the lead-up the 2012 election, ACT Labor committed to spend ‘$70m to create the best learning environments for students and teachers in our older public schools.’

AEU ACT Branch Secretary, Glenn Fowler, said: “Today’s budget was an opportunity for the Government to deliver on its election commitment but the opportunity has again been missed."

"Two thirds of ACT schools opened prior to 1979 and require urgent infrastructure upgrades. Prior to the last election, ACT Labor made an admirable commitment to turn schools built in the 50s and 60s into 21st Century learning environments. They still haven’t delivered. A promise of $70 million has so far seen an investment of $3.5 million. Promises like this should not be made if there is no intention to keep them.”

“According to the Education & Training Directorate’s own audit, one in every five ACT schools lacks comprehensive air conditioning and cooling solutions. 12% of school libraries are not air-conditioned. Additionally, many schools are forced to use demountables or endure in buildings that are no longer up to the task” Mr Fowler said.

Mr Fowler said “Budgets are ultimately about priorities and what we value as a community. Giving every Canberra child access to a modern learning environment which is conducive to a quality education is a matter of urgency. It’s well past time the ACT Government delivered what it promised prior to the last election.” 

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