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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 775 ..

Schools-heating and cooling

MR BERRY: My question is to the Minister for Education. It follows on from the masterful John Howard-style backflip with pike that the minister did in relation to heating and cooling schools, in particular heating and cooling in demountables. I have to congratulate the minister for his good sense in ditching the "open the window" solution. It is noted that the minister will now supplement the budgets of schools to cover heating and cooling and that at last the government appear to have accepted their responsibility for heating and cooling infrastructure in schools, to the extent of about $5,000 a portable or classroom. Does the $5,000 include the possibly quite high costs of running airconditioning?

MR STEFANIAK: No, it does not, nor should it, because that quite clearly is a responsibility of school-based management. Mr Berry, I do not think you would find any schools particularly worried about that. When I was having detailed discussions with Gordon Primary School board and principal and tossing around a lot of issues, that was discussed, and that school was more than happy to indicate that that is something they would expect to run. With certain types of airconditioning, with reverse cycling especially, you can get very substantial improvements in your costs of heating. While you might spend a bit more money running the cooling, your heating costs are a lot cheaper because of the efficiency of the unit. It is so much more efficient than heating systems in schools. That point was raised by someone at that meeting, not me.

The short answer to the question is no. I do not see that as a problem. Again, I was delighted to see the reaction of the Gordon school board and people involved there to what the government came up with. It covers more than their situation. As I indicated earlier, not all schools will have the same solution, but there is availability for all schools. I would not expect all schools to take it up, because of the factors I mentioned when I answered a question earlier but will not go over again.

MR BERRY: Is it not true, Minister, that larger schools or schools with higher energy requirements receive more money to cater for those energy requirements? Why then has this knee-jerk decision not taken into account the increased energy requirements that might flow from possibly quite high airconditioning energy consumption?

MR STEFANIAK: I think you will find, Mr Berry, that they have more kids and they tend to get more money anyway. With a large primary school like Gordon, that is the case. I hark back to my earlier answer. They did not seem to have any problem whatsoever and fully accepted that they would have to pay the energy costs. They thought that, depending on what they got-it is all swings and roundabouts-they could make up a bit with lower heating costs because of greater efficiency.

Mr Humphries: I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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