The NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has spoken out for the first time during the Cootamundra by-election, saying figures touted by Labor and the Shooters on school maintenance are well out-of-date.
“Of the $390 million planned maintenance funding announced over two years 2016-17 and 2017-18, $5.58 million has been allocated for the Cootamundra electorate,” he said.
“Some of the planned maintenance work planned for 2017-18 include repair roofs and replace floor coverings at Junee Public School, and repair roofs at Young High School, Monteagle Public School and Narrandera Public School, and painting at Tallimba Public School and Barellan Central School.”
Mr Stokes said the backlog does not include any maintenance that poses a safety risk to students or staff.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Matthew Stadtmiller and Country Labor’s Charlie Sheahan have been campaigning off the back of figures from November 2016, which put the backlog at $8.4 million for the electorate.
“We don’t think our kids should be out here with leaky roofs, worn carpet or old gas heaters,” Mr Stadtmiller said.
“It’s funding that’s been allocated which we believe should be delivered now.”
Maintenance totalling $32,419.30 has been planned for Junee High for 2016-17, representing just over 8 per cent of the school’s total backlog.
However, Nationals candidate Steph Cooke said maintenance is being completed on-time.
"The document the Labor Party are quoting from is over 12 months old and lists preventative and programmed maintenance that are due to happen to ensure our schools are maintained to the highest standard,” she said.
Mr Stokes said there will always be maintenance to be done in a $29 billion property portfolio, and the Coalition has made ground.
“What must be kept in mind is the NSW government inherited a $1 billion maintenance liability and infrastructure backlog, generated by the now Opposition, when it won the March 2011 election,” he said.
But, Mr Sheahan said the focus should be on the government’s recent maintenance record.
“We have to look at the last seven years that haven’t been addressed, investment in education really hasn’t gone anywhere,” he said.