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Shameful pork-barrelling determining infrastructure funding for our schools

Oct 8, 2014News

Why affluent schools get new buildings and needy schools get nothing? In the latest issue of the AEU News, Suzanne Taylor investigates the shameful pork barrelling that is determining infrastructure spending in schools.

Consider this. One of the fastest growing schools in the state can only afford to house its secondary students in portables located in a bare, muddy paddock. That school received zero funding for infrastructure or upgrades in the recent State budget. It is located in the safe Labor electorate of Tarneit.

On the opposite side of Melbourne, another state school is not only equipped with permanent classrooms, but also a heated indoor swimming pool, two libraries, an auditorium, an audio-visual centre, an indoor sports stadium and fully networked computer laboratories. That school was awarded $8.5 million in the recent budget – with the promise of an additional $10 million if the Liberal government is re-elected in November. It is located in the marginal electorate of Frankston.

In the recent State budget, the Napthine government gave $85 million to schools this year for buildings and upgrades, out of an overall $500 million allocation. But compared to the $18 billion it also plans to spend on building a road that most Victorians don’t actually want, that figure seems like a pretty stingy piece of pie. And it seems like crumbs compared to the previous Labor government’s $1.9 billion commitment to school infrastructure funding in its final term.

A closer examination of this morsel reveals something even more insidious. More than half of the new school building projects Napthine plans to fund are in seats held by a margin of less than 5%. Only six new projects are in the western metropolitan region while 14 are in the south-east, a region chocabloc with marginal electorates. Read more in the latest issue of the AEU News (page 12-15).

Regardless of which party is in power, your school is statistically more likely to get money for new buildings and upgrades if it has the good fortune to be located in a marginal electorate.

Put Education 1st is pushing for the Education Department to establish a system for infrastructure and maintenance expenditure based on need, not postcode – join the campaign now and stay in touch with our actions in the lead up to the election.