Question Time: New Schools

Ms SPENCE (Yuroke) (16:20): My question is to the Minister for Education. Minister, like many other outer suburban electorates, Yuroke is experiencing significant population growth. With demand for new schools and kindergartens a key part of meeting the demands of a growing population, can the minister outline to the house what steps the Andrews Labor government is taking to cater for this growth in Victoria and in my electorate of Yuroke?

Mr MERLINO (Monbulk—Minister for Education) (16:21): Thank you, I like these Dorothys. Speaker, at the outset can I congratulate you on your appointment as Speaker, and to the member for Yuroke, I thank the member for her question and her longstanding and passionate advocacy on behalf of her community, particularly when it comes to schools and kindergartens. In fact after the 2014 election, when we came into government, the very first thing that the member for Yuroke talked to me about was the need for new schools in her electorate.

In our last term we invested $3.8 billion, upgrading 1300 existing schools and building new schools right across the state in our growth areas, in our suburbs and in our regions. Can I say, unlike those opposite, we do not say to people that the only way to have decent services and decent infrastructure is if you leave Melbourne and head into the outer suburbs. We invest in communities wherever it is needed.

In the member for Yuroke’s electorate, that means a brand-new primary school in Aitken Hill, which will be opening next year. This is one of nine brand-new schools funded and delivered by the Andrews Labor government that will open in term 1 2019, but there is so much more to do. During the election campaign I was absolutely delighted to join with the Premier, join with the now new member for Bass—a fantastic local member—to announce that a re-elected Andrews Labor government would deliver 100 new schools across Victoria over the next eight years. A hundred: and by way of contrast how many new schools did those opposite promise to build if they were elected?

Mr Andrews: How many?

Mr MERLINO: Four. Four new schools—that is it. Four new schools for all of Victoria. In this term alone we will deliver six new schools in the electorate of Yuroke alone—six new schools—Aitken Hill in 2019, Craigieburn south secondary in 2020, Greenvale North West primary and Merrifield West primary in 2021, Greenvale secondary and Kalkallo common primary school in 2022. The contrast could not be clearer.

The honourable member also asked about kindergartens. The Andrews Labor government will invest $1.68 billion over the next decade to deliver around 785 new kindergartens and expand 170 existing services. It is part of almost $5 billion over the next decade to deliver 15 hours of universal, three-year-old kinder. The reason why this is so important is that 90 per cent of a child’s brain is developed in the first five years of their life.

This is an investment under the Andrews Labor government in our second term that will transform lives.

I want to thank the people of Victoria for giving us the opportunity to see through our vision and our reform and create the Education State in Victoria. It is an honour to be given the rare privilege of being able to serve again as Minister for Education with the added responsibility of early childhood education. I want to thank again the member for her question. I look forward to working with everyone in this placed to deliver this historic investment in education only under a Labor government.