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Jun 4, 2012

BER funds wasted on schools marked for closure.

Cartoon: By Pickering.

The Building the Education Revolution scheme, (BER) was probably not the worst effort by the current government to ‘stimulate’ the economy; that honor goes to the home insulation scheme, but its up there. $16 billion was tossed into the pot to use for school buildings, which were to be put up as soon as possible. The result was a builders feeding frenzy. The buildings constructed, in many cases cost twice to three times what they should have. It was nicknamed, the Builders Early Retirement scheme.

Two years ago, warning signs were seen of schools earmarked for closure being given these grants. Now the government have admitted it:
TAXPAYERS have spent $11.7 million sprucing up 33 schools that were shut down after being given federal grants for new buildings and renovations. While the Gillard government has managed to claw back $4.5m in grants from 12 of the closed schools, and is still looking at the others, it will have to write off $865,702 spent on repairs, painting or renovations.

Every primary school in Australia was given funding for a new building and refurbishment work under Labor's $16 billion Building the Education Revolution. But the federal Education Department has told the Senate that 12 per cent of funding approved for 10,472 projects still had not been spent, three years later. And 225 projects had been axed due to school closures or amalgamations. …

… Dooralong Public School on the NSW central cost was shut at the end of last year after more than $300,000 was spent to refurbish classrooms. Tiny Byabarra school on the NSW mid-north coast has been mothballed after $300,000 was spent on a new library, as well as $50,000 for painting, repairs to floors, fittings, roofs and drainage. …

And, in north Queensland, Palmerston East State School closed in April after receiving $250,000 for a library and $50,000 for "minor classroom renewal" -- including $3501 spent converting the toilets to dual-flush. In South Australia, four primary schools that have closed since 2009 -- Ferryden Park, Ridley Grove, Gepps Cross and Mansfield Park -- were each approved a $2m BER grant to construct "sustainable buildings."
Another element of waste under BER was exposed recently when it was realized that the expenditure on libraries was pointless as many schools are moving to digital resources:
CYBER-SMART schools are getting rid of printed books, despite $4 billion of taxpayers' money spent building 3472 libraries in the past three years.

Adelaide's beachside Henley High School has donated its 10,000 printed library books to charity. The empty bookshelves will soon be sold, as they are redundant in the "virtual library." And on the Gold Coast, Varsity College is phasing out its printed book collection -- despite a $3 million federal grant to build a new library, which will now be reconfigured as a "digital resource centre". …
It may be an idea next time Gillard wants to waste the odd $16 billion, to send the estimated 7.6 million households in this country, vouchers for $210.00, (more if the ‘rich ones’ are excluded) redeemable at the local pub for a piss-up. Its probably best though, not to give ‘the worlds greatest Treasurer’ any more ideas; we just can’t afford them.

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