Education Minister Colin Barnett has dismissed Labor’s education policy as lacking in vision and anything worthwhile in it as old hat.
He said he was surprised the ALP could expect any one to take them seriously after Labor’s dismal record on education while in government.
“Under Labor our Government schools were so neglected it was scandalous,” Mr Barnett said.
“Spending on school maintenance declined to such low levels making conditions intolerable and in some cases downright dangerous.
“In fact, when Labor leader Geoff Gallop was Education Minister spending on building and upgrading schools was cut by a quarter.
“Under Dr Gallop’s brief stewardship of education, maintenance spending decreased to $18 million. This represented a 40 per cent drop on the previous year.
“Why should anyone believe Dr Gallop today when he says he wants to build a world-class education system in Western Australia when education was such a low priority for Labor?”
Mr Barnett said the Coalition had spent $840 million building and upgrading schools and $395 million on maintenance.
The Coalition inherited a $26 million backlog in maintenance from Labor.
“Under Labor, the emerging problem of aging asbestos roofs - and its inherent danger - in schools was mostly ignored,” the Minister said.
“The Coalition has addressed this issue by allocating $20 million to replace all asbestos roofs and this will be done by next year.”
Mr Barnett said the Coalition’s record on education was exemplary with 11 state-of-the-art new secondary schools established and 36 new primary schools built since coming to office.
The Coalition had already committed to seven new schools to open in 2002, two new secondary schools to open in 2003 and a new middle school to open in 2004.
“Education has been given the importance and priority it deserves under the Coalition,” Mr Barnett said.
Media contact: Diana Callander 9222 9699