A maintenance backlog in Kiama and South Coast schools of more than $12 million will create an unsafe learning environment, Labor says.
Acting Opposition Leader Adam Searle, Labor’s South Coast spokesowman Penny Sharpe and Gilmore candidate Fiona Phillips visited Kiama High School on Tuesday.
The Opposition has released documents obtained under freedom of information, which show maintenance backlogs for 2173 public schools across NSW as of June last year.
Labor claims 120 schools statewide have a maintenance backlog in excess of $1 million each, and 486 schools have a backlog in excess of $500,000.
The Gilmore federal electorate, which covers the Kiama and South Coast seats have 40 schools needing more than $12 million worth of repairs and maintenance.
Kiama High reportedly has a backlog of $516,695.
“In this region, (South Coast MP) Shelley Hancock and (Kiama MP) Gareth Ward have let the community down,” Mr Searle said.
“The maintenance backlog is spiralling out of control. Schools in this region are being neglected while the government fights with itself over how to spend billions on sporting stadiums in Sydney.
“For them to try and belittle this issue, saying it's not as bad as it seems ... I'd like to know what benchmark they're using.”
As for how Labor planned to fund the repairs, he said: “when we get closer to the election, as we did at the last election, we've had fully costed, fully developed policies that passed the test of the parliamentary budget office”.
Ms Phillips said if Labor wins power at the federal election, they would fund the Gonski reforms until 2019.
“Federally, Labor has committed to ensuring all children get adequate funding for their education no matter where they live or attend school – under Labor’s schools plan schools in Gilmore will receive an additional $82 milIion under Gonski,” she said.
However, Mr Ward questioned the choice of venue for what he described as a “desperate stunt by Labor, who are desperate for issues”.
“We've seen maintenance money spent there, $38,000 over the (recent school holiday) break. Maintenance is ongoing (statewide). When we came into government, there was a $1 billion maintenance backlog left by Labor.
“We've spent over $4 billion on school maintenance since coming into government.
‘’We were the first state to sign up to Gonski… Maintenance represents less than three per cent of the total value of school public assets across the state.”
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