Premier can’t answer questions on Special School funds

No budget allocation for Latrobe Special Developmental School redevelopment came under scrutiny during the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee at State Parliament last week.

The Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) is responsible for examining public administration and finances to improve outcomes for the Victorian community.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath said during the PAEC hearing Premier Daniel Andrews asserted he was ‘very proud’ of the budget to expand and upgrade Victorian Specialist Schools.

“The Premier spoke of the importance of funding facilities for Melbourne based special developmental schools boasting, ‘every child’s fundamental human right to get the best education is valued’ ” recalls Ms Bath.

“The Premier’s comments are astonishing and cold comfort to the parents, staff and students of Latrobe Special Developmental School who have been actively lobbying for a standalone, purpose built school for years.

“The fact that there was no funding allocated for Latrobe Special Developmental School in this years’ budget is bitterly disappointing.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South and PAEC Committee Member Danny O’Brien seized on the Premiers words during PAEC, asking why no funding was allocated for the year going ahead for Latrobe Special Developmental School in the state budget.

Ms Bath said shockingly the Premier couldn’t answer the question despite the schools’ well documented decrepit state and a high profile campaign by school parents and friends calling for urgent action.

“I have been fiercely advocating for Latrobe Special Developmental School’s appalling facilities and deteriorating state since entering state parliament four years ago,” said Ms Bath.

“In March 2018 I tabled a parliamentary petition with thousands of signatures, calling on the state government to provide modern, fit-for-purpose facilities, to deliver quality education for students within the 2018–19 budget.

“The parents and friends of Latrobe Special Developmental School even took their cause to the steps of state parliament, the Premier should have been across it.

“At the PAEC hearing, the Premier commented that special developmental education was ‘very close to his heart’, but perhaps he means only city based schools.

“The arrogance of the Andrews Labor Government is quite stunning, it is time they engaged in open and transparent communication with the Parents and Friends of Latrobe Special Developmental School and actioned the school community’s urgent need for a fit for purpose standalone school.

“I am calling on Premier Daniel Andrews to provide immediate funding for Latrobe Special Developmental School and be true to his words.”