Kiama MP Gareth Ward has hit out at Illawarra Labor MPs Ryan Park and Paul Scully for politicising the education debate.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra was frustrated neither politician had approached him or the State Government about their school maintenance backlog concerns.
“I think it is a bit disingenuous to raise the issues in the press if you haven’t actually written to the government or to me and indicated what your actual maintenance concerns are,’’ Mr Ward told the Mercury.
- Scroll down to see the maintenance backlog at your school
His comments come after Shadow Minister for the Illawarra Ryan Park said the extra $60 million the government was spending on schools with the longest list of maintenance jobs, was less than 10 per cent of the needed funds to ensure NSW schools were operating effectively.
But Mr Ward said the $60 million was the ‘’single biggest injection of school maintenance backlog spending in the state’s history’’.
Some $23 million of this has been set aside for the Illawarra, but Mr Ward wasn’t in a position to name which schools in the region would benefit.
He did however say the government had done more than any other in addressing the ongoing school maintenance issues.
‘’When Labor left office there was a $1 billion maintenance backlog and we’ve reduced that significantly – the estimated cost of present maintenance backlog is $775 million,’’ Mr Ward said.
‘’We want our schools to be the best they can be and we want to ensure any maintenance issues are addressed….but I haven’t received a single piece of correspondence from Mr Park or Mr Scully on these issues.
‘’I think it is an example of politics creeping back into the [education] space when people say we’ve got to do something about maintenance but they don’t actually highlight which particular project.’’
Wollongong MP Paul Scully did outline his concerns in parliament during a Private Members Statement on Tuesday night.
Mr Scully called on the government to provide a list of local schools which will benefit from the extra $60 million maintenance funding.
He said on current funding projections, it would take Towradgi Public, Warrawong Public and Farmborough Road Public 22, 21 and 19 years respectively to address their maintenance backlog.
‘’It’s been a week since the Government announced additional funding yet we still don’t know if local schools will get some much needed maintenance money or not,’’ Mr Scully said.
‘’Three local schools in my electorate face maintenance backlogs of 22, 21 and 19 years on current funding projections and the total backlog for my electorate now tops $10 million.
‘’Wollongong schools need a fair share of these funds and they need it now.’’