Stadium priorities “completely out of whack”

Not making the grade: Granville MP Julia Finn (left) and NSW opposition leader Luke Foley met with Westmead Public School's P & C president Robyn Main last Friday.
Not making the grade: Granville MP Julia Finn (left) and NSW opposition leader Luke Foley met with Westmead Public School's P & C president Robyn Main last Friday.

The state government wants to spend $2.5 billion to knock down and rebuild two stadiums but can’t spare $1.2 million to clear the maintenance backlog at Westmead Public School.

The public backlash the state government’s plans to transform ANZ and Allianz stadiums into world class facilities is growing following last week’s announcement. A change.org petition set up by well known journalist Peter FitzSimons opposing the stadium rebuilds has collected more than 92,000 supporters within three days.

With more than 1500 pupils, Westmead is one of largest primary schools in the NSW. It’s at full capacity following the addition of 100 new enrolments this year.

NSW opposition leader Luke Foley and Granville MP Julia Finn met with the school’s P & C president Robyn Main last Friday. 

According to the trio, pupils are crammed into 15 demountable classrooms. They say that number will to grow to 20 next year.

The $2.6 billion allocated would clear the maintenance backlog at Westmead Public School 2068 times.

It’s estimated 400 new units will be built nearby in the next 12-18 months.

“The priorities of the Liberal government are completely out of whack,” Ms Finn said.

“How can they let our schools and hospitals continue to decline but they see fit to blow $2.5 billion knocking down and rebuilding two perfectly serviceable sports stadiums? The breathtaking waste and mismanagement of public money which Premier Gladys Berejiklian is presiding over should put an end once-and-for-all to the myth of the Liberals’ fiscal responsibility. They’re robbing the public purse, plain and simple.”

Mr Foley added:

“I will not support this obscene amount of money being spent on a couple of Sydney stadiums. This money should go to schools and hospitals; they come first and will always do so under a Labor government.”

The Seven Hills state electorate has a $9.06 million school infrastructure backlog with four schools at full capacity. Granville’s backlog is $8.7 million- four schools at 100% capacity In Parramatta electorate total schools backlog is $8.7 million- seven schools at or above 100 per cent capacity.

Parramatta MP Geoff Lee.insisted the city can have record investment in schools, transport, as well as social infrastructure.

“We have taken NSW from being the worst performing state to the number one state for employment and economic growth,” Dr Lee said.

“This has allowed us to make record investment is health, schools, transport and roads. But it also gives us the opportunity to invest in social infrastructure like stadia, museums and art galleries. This year alone, we are investing a record $4.2 billion to build and upgrade 120 schools and over $4 billion on hospital upgrades. The Government’s Stadia Strategy allows us to compete against our rivals in Melbourne and Brisbane for major events and sporting games. If we do not invest, we will lose business to our interstate rivals. This will lead to less jobs, a slower economy and antiquated major sporting infrastructure. To put it into perspective, over the next five years the NSW government will spend $200 billion on health and education. Our $2 billion plan for stadia represents only one per cent of this spend.”

Dr Lee is proud of his efforts in bringing record investment to Parramatta.

“The NSW government is building a new world-class Western Sydney Stadium that will generate 900 ongoing jobs and add $80 to $100 million to the local economy,” Dr Lee said.

“We are also spending more than $300 million on 3 new schools and school upgrades in the electorate and around $1.5 billion on Stage 1 of the Parramatta Light Rail. In addition, we are investing $900 million in the Westmead Hospital upgrade. Overall our government is investing over $4 billion in our local community.”