Catholic and independent schools will no longer be forced to pay exorbitant local infrastructure charges when building new schools, under a plan announced by NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley to tackle the schools crisis gripping the state. 

Today Mr Foley announced in his speech to the NSW Labor Annual Conference that infrastructure taxes which are usually heaped on land purchases will be abolished for non-government schools.

Labor is making the exemption because, unlike big developers, schools are not building on the land to make a profit.

This charge, which adds around 10 per cent or more to the cost of building a new school, is largely being passed on to parents – many of whom have already paid an infrastructure levy to purchase homes in the same new community.

Mr Foley also announced that under his plan, a Labor government will engage with independent and Catholic schools from the very beginning of the land rezoning process, in order to deliver new schools where they are needed.

When Labor was last in Government it built and opened on average five new schools each year; in the six years of the Coalition Government it has achieved less than half that figure – only two new schools per year.

Labor will have an unprecedented school building program which will also include giving the Greater Sydney Commission the power to seize surplus Government land from other departments and agencies in order to build and expand government schools.

This adds to Labor’s previous schools planning announcements, including that every new school will be required to have childcare, or before and after hours care facilities on site.  And that new schools will be designed as multi-purpose, modern education precincts - ensuring our schools are not left as vacant buildings when not in use.

Quotes attributable to NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley

“A Labor Government will plan for new schools in growing communities.

“It’s a question of priorities. We need more schools and we need them across all sectors – government, Catholic and independent.

“In areas of new land release we’ll engage with school authorities up front, before that land is rezoned to residential and commercial development.

“Catholic and independent schools should not have to compete against the likes of Meriton, Stockland, and Woolworths.

“The construction of new schools is being held back by exorbitant infrastructure charges. No school – public, Catholic or independent – should be forced to pay when they are providing social infrastructure for the community.

“We are facing an unprecedented growth in the school age population. But six years of neglect under this Government means we are now at a crisis point - a school age population boom and not enough schools.”