«2014–15 BUDGET ESTIMATES HEARINGS TRANSCRIPT OF EVIDENCE TAKEN AT PERTH THURSDAY, 12 JUNE 2014 SESSION ONE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION COUNTRY HIGH ...»
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES AND
2014–15 BUDGET ESTIMATES HEARINGS
TRANSCRIPT OF EVIDENCE
TAKEN AT PERTH
THURSDAY, 12 JUNE 2014
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
COUNTRY HIGH SCHOOLS HOSTELS AUTHORITY
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SERVICES
SCHOOL CURRICULUM AND STANDARDS AUTHORITYMembers Hon Ken Travers (Chair) Hon Peter Katsambanis (Deputy Chair) Hon Martin Aldridge Hon Alanna Clohesy Hon Rick Mazza __________ Thursday, 12 June 2014 — Session One Estimates and Financial Operations Page 1 Hearing commenced at 9.35 am Hon PETER COLLIER
Minister for Education, examined:
Ms SHARYN O’NEILL
Director General, Department of Education, examined:
Mr JOHN LEAF
Deputy Director General, Finance and Administration, Department of Education, examined:
Mr JOHN FISCHER
Executive Director, Infrastructure, Department of Education, examined:
Mr LINDSAY HALE
Acting Deputy Director General, Schools, Department of Education, examined:
Mr CLIFF GILLAM
Executive Director, Workforce, Department of Education, examined:
Mr PETER TITMANISExecutive Director, Innovation, Performance and Research, Department of Education,
Mr BRETT ROACH
Deputy Chief Finance Officer, Department of Education, examined:
Mr MARTIN CLERY
Acting Executive Director, Statewide Services, Department of Education, examined:
Mr DUDLEY SMITH
Chief Finance Officer, Country High Schools Hostels Authority, examined:
Ms SANDRA COUCH
Manager of Residential Colleges, Country High Schools Hostels Authority, examined:
Mr RICHARD STRICKLAND
Chief Executive Officer, Department of Education Services, examined:
Mr JOHN JURKOWSKI
Chief Financial Officer, Department of Education Services, examined:
Mr DAVID LLOYDThursday, 12 June 2014 — Session One Estimates and Financial Operations Page 2 Executive Director, Corporate Governance and Strategic Resources, Department of
Education Services, examined:
Mr ALLAN BLAGAICH
Chief Executive Officer, School Curriculum and Standards Authority, examined:
Mrs JANINE NAIRN
Director, Corporate Services, School Curriculum and Standards Authority, examined:
Ms JUANITA HEALY
Director, Policy and Planning, School Curriculum and Standards Authority, examined:
The CHAIR: On behalf of the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Estimates and Financial Operations, I would like to welcome you to today’s hearing. Firstly, I will get all the witnesses present here today to get sworn in at the very beginning. Can all the witnesses confirm that they have read, understood and signed a document headed “Information for Witnesses”?
The Witnesses: Yes.
The CHAIR: Witnesses need to be aware of the severe penalties that apply to persons providing false or misleading testimony to a parliamentary committee. It is essential that all your testimony before the committee is complete and truthful to the best of your knowledge. This hearing is being recorded by Hansard and a transcript of your evidence will be provided to you. The hearing is being held in public, although there is discretion available to the committee to hear evidence in private, either of its own motion or at a witness’s request. If, for some reason, you wish to make a confidential statement during today’s proceedings, you should request that the evidence be taken in closed session before answering the question. Government agencies and departments have an important role and duty in assisting Parliament to scrutinise the budget papers on behalf of the people of Western Australia. The committee values your assistance with this. Before I invite the minister to introduce the witnesses, I will invite members to first ask questions of the Country High Schools Hostels Authority, the Department of Education Service, and the school curriculum council. We will allow that to go for a while and I will bring that to a conclusion and then invite questions for the Department of Education. Witnesses from the other agencies can then be excused from the hearing.
[Witnesses introduced.] The CHAIR: I will invite members to ask questions.
Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: I refer to page 305 in budget paper No 2, volume 1. At the top of the page there is some commentary about an increase to the income to the authority of almost $1 million between last financial year and this financial year. The budget papers talk about that increase being attributed to an increase in boarding fees and an increase in enrolments in the residential colleges. Could the minister provide me with a breakdown of the additional income that is projected to the authority from those two sources?
Hon PETER COLLIER: I will get Mr Smith to provide those figures. The member may be aware that a strange disparity is emerging in country hostels at the moment where we are flush with students in some colleges such as Merredin, for example, and we have serious shortages in other colleges. It is causing quite a bit of concern for us in terms of facilitating those changes. Having said that, in terms of the actual breakdown of the funding I will ask Mr Smith to comment.
Thursday, 12 June 2014 — Session One Estimates and Financial Operations Page 3 Mr Smith: In relation to the increase for 2014–15, $401 000 relates to the increase in the boarding fee itself, and $621 000 relates to the increase in enrolments. With the advent of year 7s, we are expecting quite an increase. Those are the two factors that make up the increase.
Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: When does the increase in fees start? Does it start in the 2015 school year?
Mr Smith: Correct.
Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: In this calendar year, is the fee $11 780?
Mr Smith: Correct.
Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: How much will that fee increase by?
Mr Smith: By 7.5 per cent.
Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: Has any work been done or consideration been given to a commensurate increase in the boarding away from home allowance to help offset the cost in relation to the increase in boarding fees for regional parents?
Mr Smith: That is outside of our authority. We do not have any jurisdiction over that increase.
Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: Which agency manages that?
Mr Smith: The BAHA is handled through the Department of Education.
The CHAIR: We can ask that question again a bit later on I suspect. It will help if we wait until the hearing for the Department of Education. Is the member happy with that?
Hon MARTIN ALDRIDGE: Yes, I am happy with that.
Mr Smith: We will respond to that question then.
Hon SUE ELLERY: I refer to “Spending Changes” on page 301, particularly for Merredin College and Broome Residential College, and the reference in the Auditor General’s report to the year 7 transition that highlighted capacity. Will there be enough space at those two colleges for year 7 students?
Hon PETER COLLIER: Yes, we will. Brendon Grylls, the former leader of the Nationals, and I opened an extended Merredin College about 18 months ago. That reached capacity almost overnight. I announced additional funding for four colleges, including Broome and Merredin, three weeks or a month ago to provide further capacity in those colleges. The information I have received is that there will be sufficient capacity for those students next year.
Hon SUE ELLERY: On the same issue, and the concern in Geraldton over Nagle Catholic College. Is there an agreement between Geraldton Residential College and Nagle Catholic College to take students once Nagle closes its boarding facility?
Hon PETER COLLIER: It is a really difficult issue to be honest, and I will go through it with the member. The Geraldton Residential College has provision for an additional 15 beds as a result of a royalties for regions injection. That is more than sufficient capacity to deal with public school students. An issue arose about two years ago when Nagle decided it would close its residential college. In addition, there is the Geraldton Grammar School. We have three components in Geraldton all requiring accommodation facilities. There have been negotiations with the nongovernment sector, both the Catholic education sector and the grammar school. I have been up there several times to try to facilitate some alternative. The decision was that there would be some capital input from the Catholic education system to cope with the shift following the closure of Nagle’s accommodation facilities, but there is an issue with grammar school students; that is, whether we can accommodate grammar school students in the hostel. We do not want to be difficult about this, but according to the act priority must be given to public school students. At the moment there is facility in Geraldton to accommodate both public school and grammar school students. But should Thursday, 12 June 2014 — Session One Estimates and Financial Operations Page 4 there be an increase in demand in say two years’ time and we have no room in the hostel because we have accommodated students from the grammar school, it will be very difficult for us because, as I said, according to the act, we must give priority to public school students. That makes it difficult for the grammar school. I might add that the grammar school is not keen to assist us to increase facility at the hostel. The grammar school was never intended to be a residential school.
This has created a problem for the state government, because we want to provide accommodation facilities in the midwest.
Hon SUE ELLERY: They are requesting that accommodation.
Hon PETER COLLIER: Yes, they are.
Hon SUE ELLERY: They want their students to be able to use the facility but they are not keen on making a financial contribution.
Hon PETER COLLIER: That is correct. They want students to come into the facility, but they are not keen on providing capital input into the facility. We are caught pretty much between a rock and hard place. We want to do what is right for students in the midwest, but at the same time our priority is public school students. That is what the hostel is for. I have been there two or three times.
I have been fairly intimately involved with this. The department is working closely with this facility to try to accommodate some sort of positive outcome. As I said, if we do go down the path of opening the doors to grammar school students we may not have the facility for public school students in two or three years. For example, if we allow years 7, 8 and 9 to come in next year, we may be full in two years’ time. That will make it very difficult for us. The director general has been more closely aligned with the process and I will get her to make a comment as well.
Ms O’Neill: It is really to add that we are looking at a range of options as we speak. Where we can, we will ensure that all students in Geraldton are reasonably catered for, but our priority has to be public school students. There are different models in other hostels that are run on the basis of the legislation; that is, public school students first, as the minister said. Right now, we are looking at the different options. It is difficult because it is all based on forward projections, which is not always straightforward with hostels because some parents make plans long range and others more immediately. We have to be able to accommodate any public school student at any time, and priority is given to them. We are working with Nagle, and we are also open to discussions with the grammar school. Those discussions continue now, as we speak.
Hon SUE ELLERY: On page 304, reference is made to royalties for regions contributions toward residential colleges. In 2014–15 it is $10.591 million. Can we get a breakdown of how that is to be spent?
Hon PETER COLLIER: I am pretty sure we can do it now.
Mr Smith: These funds are subject to cabinet approval, but they have been earmarked for Broome Residential College.
Hon SUE ELLERY: Is the total $10.5 million for Broome?
Mr Smith: Yes.
[9.50 am] Hon SUE ELLERY: I am not sure that the reference helps us very much, but the reference would be page 275. There is an allocation of $20 million to be made in 2014–15 to purchase and develop land. What I am actually asking for is a list of land owned by the Country High School Hostels Authority, the address, the current use of the land, any proposed use of the land and the most current value of that land. Can I also get an updated list of all the land that might be leased by country high schools, the address, the current use, the proposed use of that land and the cost of the lease?
Thursday, 12 June 2014 — Session One Estimates and Financial Operations Page 5 Hon PETER COLLIER: I will take that on notice, Mr Chair.
[Supplementary Information No A1.] Hon BRIAN ELLIS: I just want to follow up on the question asked by Hon Martin Aldridge.
I intended to ask the same question. I refer to page 305, the 12.6 per cent increase in income.
I accept the explanation, but looking at the forward estimates, there are increases every year from then on. Is that an increase in the boarding fee or is it from another avenue of income?