NSW Labor Leader, Michael Daley, has today announced that Labor will replace 1,000 ageing demountables with new permanent air-conditioned classrooms, as part of the largest investment in schools by any state government in history.
Labor will divert $500 million away from the Liberals and Nationals’ $2.2 billion Sydney stadium splurge, to start the $1.4 billion worth of long overdue upgrades.
Schools right across NSW with the most demountables will be prioritised.
Mr Daley made the announcement outside The Ponds High School with Shadow Education Minister, Jihad Dib and Labor’s candidate for Riverstone, Annemarie Christie.
“Demountables are only supposed to be used temporarily but the Liberals have been piling them into schools to try to manage severe overcrowding.
“They failed to build new bricks and mortar classrooms for eight long years. Now we have hundreds of schools that are over-capacity, with no room left for kids to play,” Mr Daley said.
In 2011, the Liberal Government cancelled the former Labor Government’s “Demountable Replacement Program.” As a result, more than one in 10 classrooms in NSW are now demountables.
“Public school enrolments have surged but the Liberals have closed 15 more schools than they’ve opened since 2011,” Mr Daley said.
“That’s a shocking figure which proves yet again this government has the wrong priorities.”
Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib said: “Students and teachers deserve the best learning environments. Instead of giving our kids the best start in life this government has turned its back on the basics.”
The 2018-19 Budget papers revealed that the Government ordered 520 demountables.
Documents released by Labor under freedom of information laws exposed that almost 90 per cent of the demountables across the state are over 20 years old even though departmental policy says they are supposed to be used for seven years.
Labor will put classrooms and schools before Sydney stadiums. Unlike the Berejiklian Liberal Government who is stubbornly pressing ahead with its $2.2 billion stadium knockdown/rebuild.
Today’s announcement comes on top of Labor’s commitment to reprioritise $300 million from stadiums to air-condition every classroom in NSW.
Ms Christie said: "It's simply not fair that our kids in the northwest can spend their entire school life without seeing the inside of a permanent classroom. Our kids deserve the best opportunities to learn, just like the kids in the Eastern Suburbs.
"The Ponds High School is only four years old and is already well over its capacity. In three years time, this school is expected to have 50 demountables. This is simply poor planning.
"This Government has prioritised knocking down and replacing Sydney stadiums but fails to acknowledge the overcrowding crisis in our schools. Our kids deserve access to good education in proper, permanent, air-conditioned classrooms."