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Flegg Flogged: LNP Member for Moggill 'delighted' by Labor BER program yet stands by Abbott promise to give QLD schools 'the cuts'

Minister for Education and Training

The Honourable Geoff Wilson

06/08/2010

LNP Member for Moggill 'delighted' by Labor BER program yet stands by Abbott promise to give QLD schools 'the cuts'

Education and Training Minister Geoff Wilson has welcomed today's release of the Federal Government's interim review of the Building Education Revolution (BER) program.

Mr Wilson said the report confirmed many key points already highlighted in the two independent Price Waterhouse Coopers reports commissioned by the Queensland Government.

"Young Queenslanders all over the state are enjoying learning in world-class facilities because of this Labor Government investment," Mr Wilson said.

"The BER program is delivering real work for Queensland businesses, real jobs for locals and new facilities for our schools.

"Even the LNP Member for Moggill acknowledged in a letter to me that he was 'delighted' by the BER program in his electorate and asked for additional funding.

"While I was happy to confirm extra Queensland Government investment it amazes me he continues to condemn the program.

"The LNP Member for Moggill has today criticised th e government for not spending money fast enough while standing by Tony 'the cuts' Abbott in his promise to stop building in Queensland schools.

Mr Wilson said Queensland had the second most P21 projects (1,592) and yet was delivering on time with a significantly lower number of issues.

"Today's report confirmed that the Queensland Government has made best use of industry capabilities and resources and 'appear to have better aligned the risk allocation associated with procurement in the pursuit of value for money.

"The taskforce also believed schools self-management of BER projects in the larger government systems would have been problematic and increased the risk of not delivering on time, or for predictable cost.

"The report stated that the Queensland Government system implemented a different procurement strategy so to engage different construction industry participants and ensure stimulus and work was delivered broadly across differing parts of the industry.

"It highlighted that construction managers were contracted at under 6% with a specific direction to engage smaller builders who ensured small firms were involved.

"The contract manager then assumed responsibility for those small businesses who lacked the occupational health and safety (OH&S) and environmental management systems and other experience necessary for work in schools.

Mr Wilson said he welcomed ongoing scrutiny of the program to ensure value for money was being delivered.

"I will not defend waste - if it is found immediate action will be taken.

"The delivery of BER in Queensland has been a partnership with projects designed to suit school community by the school community; no cookie cutter approach has been taken.

"Queensland has had no performance payments or bonuses with all money directed into school projects and savings reinvested into other projects at the school.

"Combined with the Queensland Labor Government's $850 million State Schools of Tomorrow program more than $10 million being spent on infrastructure in Queensland schools every day.

"Mr Flegg has continually complained of waste and mismanagement in BER delivery in Qld. Yet despite two inquiries by the independent auditor, not one claim has been substantiated.

"It's about time Mr Flegg put up or shut up.

"Anybody with evidence of waste or mismanagement is urged to send it immediately to the Director-General of Education Queensland, PWC or the Federal Government's BER Implementation Taskforce," Mr Wilson said.

The Bligh Labor Government is dedicated to best-practice learning supported by world-class facilities.

The Queensland Government has used independent quantity surveyors to audit BER projects at design and construction phases to ensure value for money.

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) were engaged by the Queensland Government to independently investigate any complaints and assess value in the program's delivery.

PWC Report 1 was published in September 2009 and focussed on whether QLD system of BER implementation would achieve value for money based on best practice.

PWC Report 2 was published in June 2010 and investigated 12 official complaints, interviewed stakeholders and reviewed sample of projects focusing specifically on delivered value for money.

Both reports confirmed systems and delivery were achieving value for money.