GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO SCHOOLS OVERCROWDING CRISIS – ANOTHER LAYER OF BUREAUCRACY

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The Liberal National Government cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to fix the crisis of the state’s overcrowded schools, says Opposition Leader Luke Foley.

Schools that this government has promised have yet to be built and, during its six years in office, it has allowed the problem of overcrowding in our schools to spiral out of control.

Last year the Department of Education reported a $10.8 billion shortfall in funding for the school places that are needed over the next 15 years.

At the current rate of expenditure and activity it will take the Berejiklian-Barilaro government 45 years to deliver the new schools that are required within the next 15 years. Eight out of ten new school places required are in metropolitan Sydney.

This Government’s record on delivery of schools speaks for itself: It has promised schools in Jordan Springs and Wentworth Point, most notably five budgets in a row, but has so far failed to deliver.

Furthermore, it has missed opportunities to buy land adjacent to schools that are already bursting at the seams, in many suburbs including Chatswood, Homebush West, Berala and Lidcombe.

As a result it will be students that will be made to suffer, crammed into larger classes in high-rise schools with demountables crowding out what little green space they have to play in.

In response to last year’s Budget Mr Foley outlined his plan to address the issue of chronic overcrowding, announcing a Labor government would empower the Greater Sydney Commission to take land from other departments and agencies identified as suitable in order to deliver new and expanded schools.

By contrast Education Minister Rob Stokes is talking about setting up another layer of bureaucracy, doing deals with developers and holding another talkfest.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“I fear that following six years of inaction on schools building, the Liberals are now softening us for increased class sizes.

“The Berejiklian government can always be relied upon to deliver high-rise apartments in Sydney’s suburbs but not the schools that our community so desperately needs.

“This Government has had six years to deal with overcrowding and yet all they have done to date is sell off land that could have been given to schools that so desperately need the space.

“Government is all about priorities: it can find the money for a new toll road, a tunnel under Mosman and a vanity light rail project for the CBD but it will not find the money for new schools.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib

“This crisis has been allowed to spiral out of control under this Government and the Minister has responded by creating another layer of bureaucracy.

“The minister has been forced to respond to the issue of overcrowding in our state’s schools after six years of inaction because the Labor Opposition has highlighted the issue time and again.

“The devil will be in the detail. This Government is big on announcing policy but really struggles with the delivery as we have seen with the schools at Wentworth Point and Jordan Springs.”