Private sector involvement in the building of State schools in Western Australia would produce facilities best suited to local communities, Premier Carmen Lawrence said today.
Dr Lawrence said Cabinet had given the go-ahead for the Education Ministry to call for expressions of interest from companies wanting to build and own schools.
"Private sector facilities could be used for a number of purposes and the scheme would provide long-term savings to the Government," she said.
"Private sector participation in the provision of infrastructure is integral to the State's economic objectives.
"The opportunities range across schools, hospitals and housing; water and sewerage systems; energy generation, communications, port facilities; and recreational and social assets.
"The community gains new facilities and services while benefiting from the reduction of the financial burden on Government, which can re-direct funds to other much-needed services.
"Benefits for the private sector include long-term capital appreciation, access to stable cash flows and the ability to grow with the economy.
"In this instance, schools can be built by private companies and leased by the Education Ministry on a long-term basis.
"In addition, the private sector will be able to be involved in the provision of facilities such as gymnasiums, swimming pools, libraries or performing arts centres which are used both by schools and the wider community.
"The whole process involves a partnership between the Government, the private sector, local government and the community to provide the best facilities and optimise their use.
"The move also paves the way for Government and non-Government schools to share facilities to save costs - which will be of particular benefit in country areas."
Dr Lawrence said the new approach to the design, ownership and management of schools was foreshadowed in the `WA Advantage' economic statement.
"Western Australia, more than any other State, faces unprecedented growth in its school-age population over the next decade," she said.
"In fact, enrolments in Government schools are expected to grow by 64,000 and private schools by 20,000 generating very big demands for facilities."
The involvement of the private sector would mean that school facilities could be provided more quickly and with long-term cost savings to the Government.
Initially, expressions of interest from the private sector would be called for high schools at Ballajura and Warnbro.