Public Interest Debate - School Infrastructure

17 February 2021

That this House:

(1) Notes that the Liberal‑Nationals Government has failed to build the schools that communities in New South Wales need.

(2) Condemns the Liberal‑Nationals Government for delaying the new schools and school upgrades it promised across New South Wales whilst demountables fill playgrounds.

(3) Calls on the Liberal‑Nationals Government to stop its delays and build the schools that it promised to communities across the State.


Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) (17:13): — I welcome the motion moved by my colleague the Member for Londonderry.

She has kept the Liberal Government accountable for the schools that it is not delivering in the areas that need them most.

While the Liberal Government has let overdevelopment run rampant in parts of my electorate—indeed, in most of south‑west Sydney and western Sydney—and collected hundreds of millions of dollars in stamp duty, it has neglected and continued to ignore south‑west and western Sydney families and the schools that their kids need and deserve.

The Government can make as many re‑announcements of an announcement of a previous announcement as they want, but the facts never change.

If we were to hand this Liberal Government a report card for delivering public schools to south-west Sydney, I guarantee it would get an F for fail.

Perhaps the Liberal Government needs a refresher course in mathematics because something just does not add up.

South‑west Sydney is one of the fastest‑growing regions as many thousands of people continue to call the area home.

But this Liberal Government has consistently failed to deliver the infrastructure our community desperately needs.

Let us look at the history of Edmondson Park in my electorate, for example. Thousands of people have already moved into the area, but hundreds of kids are missing out on attending their local school because the number of classrooms that have been delivered is a big fat zero.

Years ago the Liberal Government promised a school would be built. In fact, residents were sold the promise of a new school in Edmondson Park in the master plan before deciding to buy their home: Buy your home here and we will build you a school.

But they were pretty pictures on glossy documents that meant nothing, which sums up this Government perfectly: always dressed up to look good but does nothing.

It is not an unreasonable expectation that a family's children can attend a nearby public school, especially when that was promised to them.

But for years local residents have heard crickets when it came to progress.

And let us not forget the enormous impact on families moving into the local area.

Many local families tell me of their frustration and angst over the lack of a public school in Edmondson Park, with parents having to travel considerable distances to take their kids to school.

Recently one constituent wrote to me stating he was $7,000 out of pocket from transport costs getting his two kids to and from school. That is absurd and totally unfair on families in south‑west Sydney. It is all because an empty block of land lies dormant in Edmondson Park and Gregory Hills waiting for a school to be built.

The Liberal Government did not do its homework. For nearly two years it delayed the planning process that would have delivered a school for Edmondson Park.

It sat on its hands while local families were left waiting and frustrated that their local public school was not being delivered as promised.

Perhaps the Government should have turned up for class instead of being a chronic truant; maybe then it would have learnt how to keep its promises instead of making continual excuses.

It is hardly rocket science that the need for infrastructure grows as the population grows, especially when it was the Government that approved for tens of thousands of people to move into the area through its overdevelopment agenda.

I always say that this Government wears the dunce's hat because it fails to deliver time and again. That is why it deserves to be put in detention.

Perhaps the Premier and her Education Minister need to write lines. Let me offer some examples, "I must do better"; "I must not offer false hope"; "I must stop the lip‑service and actually build a school in Edmondson Park and Gregory Hills just as I promised."

Even this morning the Education Minister had the hide to call for greater accountability and meeting of targets. She said that if a school failed to meet a target then it would be held accountable and support would be offered. Give me strength.

If only this Liberal Government applied the same rule to itself it would not be offered support, it would be suspended!

When it comes to educational accountability and an inability to meet targets, the Government does not need to look at the members of the teaching fraternity; it needs to look in the mirror.

As our Programme for International Student Assessment results continue to decline and our public schools in the neediest areas continue to be delayed, the Government just finds someone else to blame.

It is the Sergeant Schultz of education, "I see nothing; I know nothing."

That is all it does. It never delivers the schools that our local community needs.