Schools must signpost stimulus gains until 2011

Posted on 06/11/2018 by

EVERY school receiving money as part of the Federal Government’s stimulus will need to advertise the fact on roadside signs that stay up after the next election, under rules made public yesterday.The Government also met criticisms that local labourers were missing out on school building opportunities by requiring that state governments notify local tradespeople.In the first overview of how the $42 billion stimulus is progressing, the Government said it would spend $1.5 billion less than first planned on social housing, home insulation and science and language laboratories for high schools, and instead put the money into primary school buildings.The Education Minister, Julia Gillard, published a new batch of guidelines on how schools must spend their money.The old rules required that all schools erect roadside signs advertising the contribution of government funds. The new rules insist that signs be erected as soon as construction begins and stay up until the end of March 2011 – or later if a project is delayed.They also insist that local tradespeople and small businesses get an opportunity to work on stimulus programs.The Government said yesterday it expected to save $750 million from lowering the number of social housing projects it plans to build, but the number of houses available to low-income tenants will increase because of the success of its repairs and maintenance program.The Government will also save $610 million from closing a program that offered insulation to renters because few were taking it up. And it said it will save $178 million from lower-than-expected costs in building high school science and language laboratories.Andrew Blair, president of the Australian Secondary Principals Association, said small high schools were missing out in favour of primary schools. ”Secondary schools who did meet the criteria for selection have been cut out in order for Peter to pay Paul,” he said.”I am deeply concerned that there has been positive discrimination to meeting a political promise to funding every primary school.”A spokeswoman for Ms Gillard denied the Government had discriminated against smaller high schools. She said that 537 science and language centres had been approved, even though the original plan was to build 500 of the centres.The Herald has received anecdotal reports from primary school principals that builders in some states were exploiting the funding opportunity by charging higher than regular prices for school projects.Schools in NSW claim the state Department of Commerce is quoting them more than 20 per cent above the usual price to oversee their building projects.The Opposition’s education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, said the new rules on signage showed the Government’s desire for self-promotion. ”If there was any truth in advertising, the Government should include the fact that they have plunged the country into $315 billion in debt and $57 billion in deficit on each of these roadside signs.”

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