Christopher Pyne and BER “waste”

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Christopher Pyne labels the BER programme as a waste of money and a failure; Marilyn Shepherd takes a tour of Pyne’s local schools to see if he’s right.

Manager of Opposition Business, Christopher Pyne.
Opposition education spokesperson Christopher Pyne says Coalition focus will be on "values" not "money".

Today, Opposition education spokesperson Christopher Pyne was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying that:

A Coalition government would shift the education debate from a discussion about ''more money'' to one about ''values'', according to education spokesman Christopher Pyne.

A priority in government would also be to improve the quality of teachers by bringing back ''more traditional'' teaching methods, Mr Pyne told ABC Radio.

Well, you can be sure it won’t be about facilities, before the first sod was turned in a single school anywhere in the county under the Building the Education Revolution scheme, which built tens of thousands of wonderful halls, class rooms, libraries, tuckshops, playgrounds and covered play areas in every school in the land, Chris Pyne was yapping that the program was a waste and failure.

The other day, I found this silly bit of non-news fluff in the anti-BER News Ltd Daily Telegraph and thought I might respond as I was in Chris Pyne’s electorate for 15 years and have had some dealings with him. His biggest beef seems to be the plaques on the schools, I can only assume because there will never be a plaque for a building opening in his name because the Liberal Party in government simply do not build things.

When the program was announced, I was so thrilled, my own Pinnaroo school had hot green old wooden buildings with no air-conditioning or amenities. Inside on hot days in Pinnaroo, the  temperature often reached 50 degrees celsius, so we all went swimming in the school pool instead.

I still have cousins in Pinnaroo, with kids and grandkids going to this waste of money.

And others in my first school in Lameroo.

I went on a tour of schools in Chris Pyne’s electorate and found beautiful new school rooms at Marryatville Primary School, where my daughter was a student for two years and my son for one term

I went to Rose Park Primary, where Chris’s own kids went to school in their early years and found more wasted money.

I drove around Trinity Park Primary School, Norwood Primary School, the local St Josephs and Pyne’s own alma mater St Ignatius and found money wasted everywhere.

Some of the new facilities at the Trinity Garden Primary School, in the heart of Christopher Pyne''''s own electorate of Sturt.
Some of the new facilities at the Trinity Garden Primary School, in the heart of Christopher Pyne's own Federal electorate of Sturt.

School rooms, playgrounds, libraries, covered areas, halls and other wastes assailed me. Then I moved to the Barossa and my daughter and I had a small field trip of schools.

I live across the road from Angaston Primary School, where my granddaughter went to school in her first years; my daughter noted the newly paved courts, fencing, playground, shelter shed and other money-wasting projects and I watched the four new classrooms for the junior primary school being built and landscaped.

Nuriootpa Primary, where my youngest granddaughter was a student, has a waste of money hall, which the town can hire for programs, concerts and other events

She is now going to Nuriootpa High School and finding yet more wasted money.

My daughter attended Kapunda High/Area School for some years so we drove around there — to find, you guessed it, more wasted money.

My granddaughter has cousins who live in the tiny town of Tarlee in the mid north. On a visit, the kids took us on a tour of the school and showed us the broken-down play area they used to scrape their knees and elbows on.  The night before, they had held a fete in the waste of money COLA (covered outdoor learning area); it’s truly a remarkable structure, that is not the waste claimed, it is solid, wired for sound, the floor is rebound ace for all sports, and the real critics told me what they thought of it.

A bunch of youngsters were at the school that day; it is the only play area they have in the town, and the general consensus was that it was a marvel to have covered play areas, freely available full size basketball and netball court, they could play outside in the heat and the rain and the town people loved it.

Tarlee Primary School COLA
Tarlee Primary School COLA

We went as tourists to the next town of Tanunda and found this almost finished.

The program in South Australia was one of the most extensive and successful building programs in our schools in my lifetime, there were no cost over runs, very few delays in the building, the quality is superb and the kids at all the schools are happy  as can be with their new and upgraded facilities.

It is vaguely possible that I would not have cared if I didn’t have kids and grandkids who attended these schools, but I think I would have simply because of the memory of those terrible old green boxes my generation had to suffer in all over Australia at the time.

Here are the results in all the state schools in South Australia; have a look and next time Chris Pyne whinges that they were a waste of money, let him know he is a nitwit.

After all, in the 21st century with new technology available, is there a reason our kids and grandkids should not have use of it?

In fact, why don’t IA readers visit some local schools in their states and have a look; the buildings in general are fantastic in spite of beat-ups and fairy tales told by the Australian and Limited News papers.

[Read Sandi Keane’s brilliant exposé of the way News Ltd tried to sell the highly successful BER programme as a failure, in ‘Building an Election Result’.]

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