Opposition highlights asbestos in schools

Asbestos and poor maintenance continue to plague schools across the state, despite assurances to the contrary from the Andrews Labor Government.

 That’s the assessment of Shadow Education Minister Tim Smith and Shadow Assistant Education Minister Melina Bath after they visited Kooweerup Secondary College this week.

 Mr Smith said his visit highlighted that asbestos remains a serious issue in Victorian schools.

 “The Andrews Labor Government promised that asbestos would be removed from schools,” Mr Smith said.

 “That is a lie. This is the second school I have visited in Gippsland this week with dangerous asbestos still present.”

 Mr Smith and Ms Bath have questioned the government’s joy in ‘announcing’ $1.25 million in what is essentially maintenance funding for Kooweerup college.

 “All the Andrews Labor Government is providing is basic maintenance funding to this school, when the truth is that the older parts of it are falling to bits,” Mr Smith added.

 Ms Bath said she had raised the plight of the school in parliament recently, but the government’s public response didn’t tell the real story.

 “Last month I highlighted in parliament the ongoing issue of asbestos cladding at this school and the overdue need for its Stage 2 upgrade,” Ms Bath said.

 “What we have instead is bandaid maintenance funding. The old cladding containing asbestos is literally falling off the buildings.”

 “All the real issues remain unaddressed.”

 Ms Bath said rather than overdue short-term fixes, what Kooweerup college needed was completion of the planned upgrade that has been left only half done.

 “This is a population growth area. What Kooweerup Secondary College needs is a commitment from the Andrews Labor Government to fund the Stage 2 upgrades.”

 “The STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) lab is a key element of the Stage 2 plans. This growing community needs this facility now.”