SUBJECTS: Mowbray School collapse;
Kieran Gilbert: Another story we’re covering today, the collapse of a high school in Melbourne, collapsed under $18 million of debt apparently, I’ve got the Shadow Minister for Education and Manager of Opposition Business, Christopher Pyne joining me on the line from Ballarat, Mr Pyne, thank you for your time this morning, what is your reaction to this story, is there anything the Government can do?
Christopher Pyne: Well Kieran, the Minister for Education, Peter Garrett could intervene immediately to keep that school open, at least this year, so that the 1000 children who are now without a school can finish their schooling in 2012 and then find new options next year. There is an emergency fund called the Special Assistance Emergency Fund which is at the discretion of the Minister as to how it’s spent. Mowbray College would be a classic case of when a school collapses half way through a school year, the Minister could intervene to keep it open, at least until the end of the year.
Gilbert: Has this emergency fund been used often in the past in these sorts of circumstances?
Pyne: Yes certainly, under the Howard Government it was used by Ministers for emergency situations, just like this one, especially in the case where there are children whose schooling is going to be dramatically affected. If I was the Minister for Education, I would immediately use my discretion to access the Special Assistances Emergency Fund, to keep the school open for this school year, to give the children and parents some certainty that they will be able to finish their schooling then begin with new options next year. If Peter Garrett had his eye on the ball, he would do exactly that and I am calling on him to do so today.