You could call it “Building Koutsantonis’s Education Revolution” (although he doesn’t): a $500 million investment in schools infrastructure, half of which will go directly to 139 separate science and technology projects in public facilities.
The other half will extend the largesse to the independent sector, with a $250 loan scheme for non-Government schools to borrow for building projects at Government rates.
“The only class that’s important in this is the classroom,” is the Treasurer’s sales pitch.
“We’ll be opening up our books to private schools, offering non-government schools low interest loans, at government rates, to go out and invest.”
“In the end, their parents are taxpayers too – why should they miss out?”
He emphasised, though, that “this money is not going to elite schools that have vast endowments” – whose parents are nonetheless unarguably also taxpayers and generally significant ones.
“It will go to small, independent schools, Catholic schools… this will give them the ability to unlock a lot of their potential,” Koutsantonis said.
Elsewhere, the spending is largely steady as she goes.
The Treasurer insists a $526 million investment into health “isn’t new capital for upgrades [but] about meeting demand” in the wake of the heavily debated Commonwealth cuts, which neither party offered to fully reinstate during the recent election campaign.
“The Prime Minister talked about this as one of the reasons he’s [potentially] facing either a loss or a minority Government,” Koutsantonis said.
There is $40 million for grassroots sport, with a particular focus on encouraging female participation.
“Girls are signing up to do sports in record [numbers],” the Treasurer enthused, pointing out local clubs can “double their membership” by catering to a broader demographic.
His theme, though, was along the lines expounded by his former partisan PM, one of spending to stimulate.
“We’re facing serious headwinds… do we chase our revenues down and impose austerity measures or do we continue to invest?” he posited.
“I need to make sure I can intervene in the economy as necessary.”
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