Casey Central East Primary School

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — My adjournment matter this afternoon is for the Minister for Education and concerns the construction of the new Casey central east primary school in my electorate. The action I seek is that the minister commit to providing funding for the construction of the school at the earliest opportunity.

By way of background, the construction of the new Casey central east primary school was an election promise of the former Labor government at the 2010 election. It was to cap off a solid period of delivery of new schools for our growing local community and would have been the 10th new school delivered by the former Labor government in my electorate.

Many in our local community were a bit nervous upon the election of the Baillieu government as the future of this new school was uncertain; however, our fears were allayed when funding for land acquisition was provided in the 2011 state budget. I understand this is exactly what the education department desired. Our fears have since been revived, with no funding provided for construction of the school in the 2012 state budget. The minister’s explanation in response to a letter I wrote to him was most
disappointing. In his letter to me he wrote:

Time frames around funding for capital planning and construction for the new school will be determined during future state budget processes.

Clearly construction of the new school is now uncertain; indeed it is in the never-never.

The Baillieu government has shown again and again with cuts to the Victorian certificate of applied learning, the slashing of funding to TAFE and so on that it does not care about public education.

Casey central east primary school is desperately needed to cater for the increasing local demand. The surrounding schools are overflowing, with nearly 1000 students in each. When we were campaigning for this school last year, the president of the Australian Education Union, Mary Bluett, reminded the Baillieu government through our local paper, the Berwick Leader, that:

Once you go above 500 you’re losing that intimate environment and quality, and that is very important for younger students.

Housing construction is under way in the new estate in which the school was to be located. In fact Stockland had a sign up saying ‘School now under construction’, such was their belief that the school would be built pretty soon, as had been the case under the previous government. That sign has now changed to ‘Naturally close to schools and childcare — future school planned’, so obviously they are not getting good vibes from the
government about when this much-needed new school will be coming to the new estate.

Children cannot attend school in a paddock. There seems to be a feeling that just buying the land will allay the fears of the local parents. That is certainly not the case.

The minister needs to immediately come clean and say if and when Casey central east primary school will be built and open for the hundreds of children who are moving into the estate every day.