Press Conference – Bomaderry High School – Tuesday 16 May 2023

TUESDAY, 16 MAY 2023 

SUBJECTS: School Upgrade Fund, NAPLAN, Cheaper Child Care, infrastructure funding, cheaper medicine. 

MEMBER FOR GILMORE, FIONA PHILLIPS: Hi, everyone. Well, look, it’s great to be here outside Bomaderry High School with Jason Clare of course, the Federal Minister for Education. We’ve had a great day today. We’ve popped along to Cullunghutti Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, who do such great work, and the Early Learning Centre there. We’ve also visited Terara Public School, a beautiful small school in our area, and, of course, here at Bomaderry High School this afternoon to talk with students, to talk with teachers, and importantly, have a look at the projects that are going to be funded under the School Upgrade Fund as well. So, I’ll hand over to Jason. Thank you. 

MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, JASON CLARE: Thanks very much, Fiona. It’s great to be back here in one of the best parts of the world. We’re announcing today $25,000 for outdoor fitness equipment here at Bomaderry High School. It’s one of ten schools right across the region from Bomaderry to Batemans Bay, getting funding out of the first round of the Schools Upgrade Program. It’ll provide funding for schools across the region for everything from iPads to air conditioners and outdoor learning centres, outdoor fitness equipment, like is happening here at Bomaderry. It’s the first round of the Schools Upgrade Fund, but there’s more funding to come for bigger projects in schools that really need it. 

I was struck when I came here to Bomaderry today that Bomaderry High looks a lot like my old high school, Canley Vale High School, that opened in 1967. Ian, the principal, told me that Bomaderry opened in 1967 as well. I had a little case of deja vu, and the woodwork rooms and the metalwork rooms all looked like they did when I went to school. For children to do their best, they deserve the best equipment and Bomaderry deserves the best. So, one of the things that I’ve taken away from my visit today is how do we make sure that we continue to invest in schools like Bomaderry High School to make sure that the young people here on the South Coast get the best possible equipment to get the best start in life. Our education system is critical to providing that, and the infrastructure we provide is part of that.

JOURNALIST: What’s the total investment for Gilmore? 

CLARE: The total investment for Gilmore is about $230,000 as part of round one, for ten schools from Bomaderry right down to Batemans Bay. The second round of this fund will be more than $200 million for public schools right across the country, and applications for that funding will open later this year. 

JOURNALIST: One of the things that I’ve heard lots about at Bomaderry in particular, is the demountable situation. I can see them behind me. It’s normally a state government responsibility, of course, but now that we have state – you know, state and federal, is there any chance of some sort of collaborative effort there? 

CLARE: This is part of what round two of the Schools Upgrade Fund can do – to replace the demountables with permanent classrooms, but it can also potentially fix some of the old woodwork and metal work and hospitality classrooms that I got to see at Bomaderry today as well. But you’re dead right. The collaboration between the New South Wales Government and the Federal Government is really important. We’re working really well together. We’ve already made a commitment to work together to make sure that all public schools in New South Wales are on a path to be fully funded. Non-government schools are funded above the Gonski level at the moment, and will track down to full Gonski funding by the end of the decade. But government schools aren’t. And it’s important that we close that funding gap, but we also close the education gap and make sure that we’re funding things in schools that are going to help children who are falling behind so that they finish school. At the moment, children from public schools aren’t finishing high school at the rate of children from non-government schools, the children from poorer backgrounds are less likely to finish high school than children from wealthier backgrounds. When I spoke to the school captains today and the vice captains and the prefects, they all talked about what happens after school – wanting to go to university. The message they gave to me when I said, “what do you want to tell me?” – you can vouch for this because you were in the room at the time, is that they want to make sure that everybody feels like there is a place for them at university and that there is an opportunity for them and that they belong at university. 

JOURNALIST: What can you tell us about the NAPLAN results, when we’re expected to see those? 

CLARE: NAPLAN has now been brought forward from May to March. Tests are now all online, and instead of students being categorised into ten different categories, it’s now broken into four, with the bottom category identified as students who need more assistance. The results come out this year in July, but that’s not good enough. We need to speed that up, so teachers get that information in weeks, not months. I’ve asked ACARA that runs NAPLAN to give me a timetable for how fast they could speed that up. So teachers right across the country get those results as soon as they can and then can use it in the classroom to help children who need extra help. But it’s also important just to go back to the point I made before about funding and closing not just the funding gap, but the education gap to make sure that we use the additional funding that we invest in schools to help those children that the NAPLAN tests show need more help and give them the sort of help that we know works. Help children wherever they live across the country to catch up. 

JOURNALIST: Do you think that that is a wasted opportunity for teachers to use the data that was expected to come out earlier? 

CLARE: I think it needs to be much, much faster. I’ve spoken to ACARA about this. They know what my expectations are. They know what Education Ministers across the country want, they know what teachers need and we need to get this information to teachers much faster. 

Just on Cheaper Child Care, it’s less than 50 days now until our Cheaper Child Care plan becomes a reality. More than a million families right across the country will see their child care costs cut, including 4,800 families here in the Shoalhaven from where we are here today, right down to Batemans Bay. Apart from the mortgage or paying the rent, child care costs are one of the biggest bills that families pay right across the country. Those cuts that we’ll make from July, cutting the cost of child care for thousands of families here and millions of families across the country, will make a massive difference. It’ll be good for children because they’ll get more time in care, which means they’ll be better prepared for school, good for parents, because it’ll be more money in their pockets. But it’ll be good for local businesses too, because it means that they can get skilled workers back at work with their children in early education and care. 

JOURNALIST: A couple of questions for you if that’s all right. Can you confirm or deny that Jervis Bay Flyover, Milton Ulladulla, Nowra bypass will all be going ahead? 

PHILLIPS: Yeah, look, I’m absolutely proud to have fought for federal funding for all of those projects. $752 million was delivered in the first Albanese, the budget for the Milton Ulladulla Bypass. There was $100 million for the Jervis Bay Flyover and more money for the Princes Highway, and of course, funding for the early works for the Nowra bypass. And that funding, particularly the Jervis Bay Flyover, is underway. We know the Milton Ulladulla Bypass is underway. Those projects are certainly going ahead. 

JOURNALIST: Only $100 million was allocated for Shoalhaven road infrastructure for the next twelve months. Is that because these projects aren’t going to be delivered in the next twelve months? 

PHILLIPS: But sorry, can you just repeat that again? 

JOURNALIST: $100 million for Shoalhaven road projects – 

PHILLIPS: $40 million, did you mean? 

JOURNALIST: $100 million for the next twelve months. Shoalhaven road infrastructure, $100 million for the next twelve months. So, does that mean that those three projects won’t be delivered in the next twelve months? Is that why that money is not included in that for Shoalhaven? 

PHILLIPS: I can’t comment on that. What I can comment on is that that funding has been delivered for those projects. We’ve turned the sod on the Jervis Bay flyover. And it is absolutely going ahead, as is the Milton Ulladulla Bypass and all those projects that I’ve committed to. 

JOURNALIST: And yes, I mentioned to you, South Coast pharmacists have started a petition. They want the option to choose between 30 days and 60 days. Will you take that to Parliament and lobby on their behalf? 

PHILLIPS: Well, I think patients right across our region already go to their GP, and it’s their GP in conjunction with the patient that will determine whether they have a script for six months or a script for twelve months. I want to be clear here. This is actually about making medicines cheaper for people right across this region. We have a cost-of-living crisis, and we have to do everything possible to reduce the cost of medication for people. But also, for people that have a stable chronic condition, where their GP says it is safe to do so, they can go to their GP every twelve months instead of six months. That frees up GP appointments locally for those that need the most. We know more than anyone in this area about the bed block at Shoalhaven Hospital. We know what happens when people can’t get in to see their GP – a lot of people end up at our local hospital. This is good public health policy, and it starts on the 1st of September. It is importantly staged over the next 18 months. So, this is a policy that is going ahead. But certainly, people will have that option with their GP to determine whether it’s 30 or 60 days. 

JOURNALIST: Thank you.