The McGowan Government has refused to make public the terms of an agreement to privatise six camp schools across Western Australia, including regional facilities in Bridgetown, Dampier, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and Pemberton.
The Nationals WA today demanded the Government reveal the arrangements it is negotiating with Fairbridge WA to take over the camp schools, including agreed key performance indicators and protections that would keep the camps affordable for all families.
Leader Mia Davies there were legitimate concerns over the Government’s deal, which included an annual taxpayer contribution of $250,000 to Fairbridge for the next 15 years.
“On the weekend the Government trumpeted how it had a deal which would ‘save’ the six camp schools yet now refuses to provide any of the detail,” Ms Davies said.
Community concerns have been raised over how the Government expects to save $3 million yet not compromise on the quality and quantity of services available at the camp schools.
“Without the detail of the tender and contract there is suspicion that the services currently on offer at the six sites under the Government’s ownership will be compromised,” Ms Davies said.
Questions raised by The Nationals in Parliament this week revealed the details of the Government’s agreement with Fairbridge had not yet been finalised.
Answers provided by the Education Minister also showed that the Kalgoorlie and Geraldton camp schools would not receive any of the $250,000 in maintenance funding Fairbridge will receive from taxpayers each year.
“Given all six sites ran at an operating deficit in 2017 – the highest being Kalgoorlie Camp School at just under $900,000 – The Nationals fear there will be staff losses and services will suffer,” The Nationals education spokesperson Peter Rundle said.
“I note that when the Education Minister first announced her suite of education cuts in December last year, she stated that the six camp schools would close. The closure of the six facilities was gazetted on December 15 and remains as such.
“Why did the Government switch from closing camp schools to going out to tender? This question, along with many others, remains unanswered.”