The Government needs to stop complaining and start getting on with its job, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Labour inherited a strong economy from the previous National Government, but it over promised during the election campaign and now it’s learning that its budget is too tight.
“In order to manage expectations about the meagre Budget the Government is about to deliver, it appears Education Minister Chris Hipkins is trying to rewrite history.
“But the fact is, under National the education budget increased every year we were in office and the overall education budget went from $8 billion to over $11 billion.
“When we came into government, we inherited a property portfolio with an average age of 40 years. There was no complete picture of the state of school property.
“We invested more than $5 billion in school property alone – the largest ever. This included more than 30 big projects including the $1.1 billion Christchurch schools rebuild, the $79 million Western Springs College rebuild and the $22 million upgrade for The Gardens School.
“The Auditor-General last year stated that during the time National was in Government, the management of the school property portfolio strengthened significantly.
“But we knew there was still more work to be done. That’s why a further $4.85 billion had been set aside over four years for education infrastructure, like school property.
“We were also investing in high-growth areas. Once Budget 2017 is taken into account, we were on track to deliver around 21,000 extra student places needed in Auckland by 2027.
“Mr Hipkins should release evidence to back up his claim of $200 million worth of unusable buildings. If he is suggesting school buildings are unsafe, there are potential legal consequences under health and safety laws.
“This is a government in spin mode. It allocated almost all its money to the fees free bribe, and none to the business-as-usual expenditure that always comes up in education. It just needs to get on with the job.”