House debates

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Dunkley Electorate

7:52 pm

Photo of Bruce BillsonBruce Billson (Dunkley, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Small Business, Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

The government's Building the Education Revolution program is littered with disappointments and some disasters. There have been some sweet spots but also many disappointments in the community that I represent. Thankfully, through advocacy, we have been able to address the challenges faced by Frankston Special Developmental School, the particular needs of which seem not to have been well accommodated by the approach that was taken to rolling out the Building the Education Revolution program, and by Langwarrin Primary School. We are pleased to see that some sensible outcomes were achieved there, even though we had to rely on inviting over the dispatch box the Prime Minister to meet the school community in order to achieve them. That was followed by some good discussion and a better outcome than we might otherwise have seen.

However, we still have issues. Frankston High School is facing considerable pressure to receive the science laboratory built under the BER program even though there are quite a few occupational health and safety concerns over the building. WorkSafe advisors identified: a lack of locks on classroom doors to cater for instances of a lockdown; the fact that there is no suitable ventilation in laboratories where practical activities are conducted, which makes the building unsuitable for the storage of dangerous chemicals; the absence of cupboards; the presence of inflammable liquid rooms; and the fact that the sinks in the building do not meet occupational health and safety requirements. I hope the government will recognise that a substandard building should not be forced on a school community and that taxpayers pay handsomely for these projects and they should, therefore, at least be fit for purpose.

Frankston East Primary School still has the dilemma of a stonehenge building: one of the light timber-frame construction wings that was supposed to have been demolished. Also, new basketball courts were supposed to have been constructed for the primary school in recognition of the fact that the site of the old basketball courts was used to build the facility that came through the BER. Apparently, after running over budget, those two key elements at the end of the project will not be carried out. The demolition of the old wing will not occur, and the school community has to find funding to ensure that it is not a safety risk, even though as far as the state government is concerned it is an invisible asset on the grounds of the school. In addition, the basketball courts are clearly not being developed. When the school community raised these failures as breaches of contract, they were told that the contracts were merely a statement of intent and were not considered binding. All this means that the school has been left high and dry.

Derinya Primary School is currently urging the Commonwealth and state governments to purchase an adjoining residential property given that it has had so little in the way of a play area left for the students after the building it received under the BER was plonked right in the middle of already very scarce play areas. We still need to pursue all this work, and I can assure the local school community of my ongoing advocacy.

There is also the matter of the grave of the Hon. James Edward Fenton at the Mornington cemetery. For those who are unaware of him, James Fenton was an Acting Prime Minister for a period in our nation's history and, as he deserved, he was afforded a state funeral. However, his gravesite has fallen into horrendous disrepair, and this is of great concern to the local historical society in Mornington. I have previously raised with the government that the original guidelines of its Commemorating Eminent Australians program expressly rule out funding to provide for the ongoing care and restoration of the grave. I am pleased to see that Senator Don Farrell has intervened and that the restoration of Mr Fenton's grave is now eligible for funding. I hope that the advocacy I have provided to date results in a considered application so that we can fix Mr Fenton's grave with the support of the Mornington and District Historical Society as the township of celebrates a very significant birthday. Part of its birthday celebrations will be exploring the history of eminent citizens from the area. We would hate to have people visiting a former Prime Minister's grave and seeing it in a state of such disrepair.

I turn now to the cleanliness of roads in the Baxter area, particularly the Baxter-Tooradin Road. As progress continues with the construction of Peninsula Link, a number of heavy vehicles are leaving the work site and leaving quite an array of debris, mainly while carting away unsuitable soils. I am pleased that Abigroup has now engaged a street sweeper dedicated to the Baxter area. On hot days the site turns into dust that ends up in people's houses; on wet days it turns to slop. This is not acceptable, and I am pleased that Abigroup is responding to the problem.

Finally, I reflect on the plight of many small telco providers, among them Megalink Australia, which is run by Brenden Cooper and his crew in my electorate. They are being caught in the NBN squeeze. Their clients are sprinkled right across the rural and regional area and are relying on the services of Megalink to extend the reach of broadband, but they are now been cut off because of the NBN. There is big money washing around to look after the decommissioned assets of Telstra and Optus; but what about these little telcos whose owners have mortgaged their houses to provide infrastructure? (Time expired)