The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard today expressed shock that the Federal Coalition believes the proposed $14.7 billion investment in primary and secondary schools across Australia is a waste of money.
Joe Hockey, the Shadow Minister for Finance has called the package “ridiculous” and revealed that the Coalition doesn’t believe investing in vitally needed school infrastructure should be a priority.
Mr Hockey should be asking principals, teachers and parents in this country if they think $14.7 billion for 21st century libraries and multipurpose halls, maintenance and upgrades is “bad spending”.
On Sunrise today 13 February 2009, Mr Hockey said:
We think the package is way too big, it’s wasting too much money on bad spending.
Well let me tell you, we wouldn’t be spending $14 billion on school halls. I mean that is a phenomenal amount of money. $14 billion… That is just ridiculous.
The Government’s National Building and Jobs Plan and specifically, the $14.7 billion Building the Education Revolution is designed to stimulate our economy, support thousands of local jobs and help rebuild, refurbish and maintain the nation’s schools.
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E&OE TRANSCRIPTINTERVIEW SUNRISE13 FEBRUARY 2009
Kochie: Joe, you guys are still voting against it?
Hockey: Yeah well Kochie, you don’t change your principles because of what’s happened in the Senate. I mean they are not for trading. We think the package is way too big; it’s wasting too much money on bad spending. The Government’s in complete panic about it and…
Albanese: Which wouldn’t you do? I mean, that’s the point. Which wouldn’t you do?
Hockey: We wouldn’t be spending $3 billion on pink bats. I mean there’s plenty of hospitals out there that could do with new equipment as a starting point.
Albanese: Did you listen to Rob Oakeshott last night? The Independent from Port Macquarie?
Hockey: Yeah, yeah.
Albanese: Talking about jobs in his local community that will be created through this measure.
Hockey: Well let me tell you, we wouldn’t be spending $14 billion on school halls. I mean that is a phenomenal amount of money. $14 billion. You could build the world’s number one cancer centre and run it for ten years on $14 billion. That is just ridiculous.
Those sorts of things are just way too much money and of course, we would not be handing everyone a cheque for $950, you know why? Because it is not a gift from the Government, it’s a loan from the Government to those people. It has to be re-paid. And you know what, its really going to hit our kids and that’s what we really care about.
Albanese: Well, I am just stunned. About the schools comment in particular. The reason why the bill is so high is that we are putting improvements into every single primary school; public, private independent, in the country.
If you are talking about economic stimulus, the great thing about primary schools are they are everywhere and it will stimulate the economy, provide local jobs in each and every corner of this vast land. This is an incredibly practical proposal.