"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Friday, August 6, 2010

Economic Management: Gillard Paid Double for School Buildings!

Julia Gillard's wish  to switch the debate to Labor's economic record is looking a bit sick today with the release of a damning report in Victoria where State schools have paid double the Catholic school rate for improvements funded by her building programme. The BER programme was run by Gillard's own department and has been the subject of many claims of hugely inflated prices for buildings across Australia casting severe doubts on her economic management ability.

GOVERNMENT primary schools in Victoria yesterday learned the extent of their BER rip-off.

Previously confidential figures showed state schools paid more than double the price of their Catholic counterparts for new halls and exorbitant fees to managing contractors.
The Brumby government, which had refused to release costing data since the inception of Julia Gillard's Building the Education Revolution program, has released figures revealing the extent of cost blowouts, fee duplications and poor value for money spent on state primary schools.
According to the figures, provided as part of a government submission to a state parliamentary inquiry into the $16.2 billion scheme, the government expects to pay an average of $4842 per square metre for 390sq m halls delivered under the scheme, and $5575/sq m for 160sq m buildings.
By contrast, the Catholic Church is delivering school halls to its schools for an average of $2221/sq m.

The Victorian data provides average cost breakdowns for each of the 17 template designs built in more than 1200 state primary schools as part of the BER stimulus program. As many of the projects are still being built, the figures are described as an "anticipated final cost".
Analysis of the data shows that in some projects more than 25 per cent of the total budget is soaked up by project management, design and unspecified fees. This is despite all projects being built according to government template designs.
Much of the extra cost appears to stem from additional payments to managing contractors for items such as "special factors", "special site allowances" and "decanting".
Hoddles Creek Primary School principal John McKelvie, who has fought a long battle with state education bureaucrats to get a toilet block built and an administration building refurbished, said he could not believe the average cost of $843,300 cited for his school's project.
"For that price I should be getting solid gold taps and toilets," Mr McKelvie said.
Among the figures released was a staggering two million dollar 656 m2 block for one school.
According to the Victorian figures, a $1.97 million 656sqm library and classroom block cost $1.435m to build, plus a $96,500 "design fee" and a $412,200 fee for "site specific project costs".
Tony Abbott will be gleeful at the release of these figures which could not come at a worse time for Gillard's campaign. Expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming fortnight.

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