School scheme under fire

Earlier this week, Education Minister Peter Collier called for expressions of interest from private companies to build and maintain eight schools, including those in east Landsdale and south-west Alkimos.

‘While the schools will be owned by the State Government and the Department of Education will be responsible for all educational services, the PPP is a very different way of building and maintaining school facilities,’ Mr Collier said. ‘A private company will design and build the schools and then maintain them over a 25-year period ” the company will finance the design and construction.’

United Voice WA secretary Carolyn Smith was quick to criticise the scheme on Monday.

‘The government has already slashed funding to public schools, leading 20,000 parents and staff to rally against them back in April,’ she said.

‘Now their next big idea is to privatise schools. Privatisation isn’t about saving money; it’s about abdicating the responsibility of government.

‘Governments are supposed to run schools and hospitals, so they are accountable to the public.

‘This is handballing. When something goes wrong on at a privatised site like a hospital or a prison, governments get to say ‘well, it’s not our fault’, and dodge the blame.

‘Ultimately it’s the children that will be impacted most by this decision.’

Treasurer Mike Nahan said the State Government wanted best value for its investment in public school infrastructure.

The PPP will include facilities management services such as waste disposal, utilities management, gardening, cleaning and security.

‘The Government does not commence payment until each school is operational and we can deduct payments if performance measures are not achieved,’ Mr Collier said.

‘This will be a strong incentive for the company to deliver high-quality schools on time and within budget, and ensure that ongoing maintenance is performed to a high standard.’