MEDIA RELEASE - School Building Blitz: Good for kids, good for the economy

NSW Labor has called on the Berejiklian Government to launch a major school building blitz that provides economic stimulus, creates jobs and gives our children and their educators the room they need to work, learn and play.

With NSW in recession – and hundreds of thousands of people out of work or facing reduced hours or pay cuts – Labor has launched a major campaign, Building Schools Creates Jobs, to kickstart construction of overdue or much-needed school projects.

In Maitland the Government promised an upgrade to Ashtonfield Public School back in the 2018-19 budget, but funds have still not been made available, plans were made public only last week, and there is no timeline for completion.

“Our schools carry the burden of 63 demountable buildings, which is a clear indication that investment in our children’s education has failed to keep pace with the growth of our city,” Ms Aitchison said.

Information recently obtained by NSW Labor during Budget Estimates questioning revealed that 11 of Maitland’s 22 public school were at more than 100 per cent capacity, based on the number of permanent buildings at their sites.

“I have made numerous representations to the Minister for Education, calling for a new school in the Maitland electorate, and I have long advocated for a significant upgrade to Gillieston Primary School,” Ms Aitchison said.

“The Government’s response is that it has no plans for a new school, and that our local public schools are below capacity. Try telling that to the parents, carers, teachers and students who live in high-growth areas, and to the residents who live near the schools.”

Ms Aitchison said she feared that the Berejiklian Government was committed to “privatisation by stealth”.

“In Maitland we have seen Catholic and Independent schools step up to address the shortfalls in some of our highest growth areas,” Ms Aitchison said. “By law our children must attend school. If the Government does not build accessible, well-resourced public schools where they are needed, it gives space for the private sector to thrive.”

NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said it was time for the Maitland community to see promised works delivered.

“Building or upgrading schools creates jobs,” Ms McKay said. “It means trades jobs in the short term, and new teaching opportunities and better prospects for our children in the long term.”

Ms Aitchison also acknowledged the important economic role a school building blitz would play.

“We are in a recession,” Ms Aitchison said. “Now is the time to bring forward desperately needed school construction. By bringing forward these projects, we will not only address serious issues of overcrowding in the classroom but also provide hundreds of jobs.”

The Government has promised but not delivered 99 new and upgraded schools in NSW. It has also failed to plan for student growth in Sydney and rural and regional NSW.

Around the state, 580 schools are over their enrolment cap – with some as high as 380 per cent over capacity.

As part of Labor’s plan, every school building project would employ local workers to create jobs and support local businesses.