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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 February 2015) . . Page.. 502 ..

know that in my portfolios, as in the Education and Training Directorate, there is an extensive program of proactive regular maintenance across the assets and most likely a list of due maintenance as well as planning for contingency or unanticipated or emergency works.

As the issues of healthy and safe environments are obviously deeply important for schools and their communities and, in response to previous attention brought to these issues in the Assembly and elsewhere, I understand that the directorate has enhanced the information provided on its website and in reports. I am advised the directorate’s website spells out clearly that it prepares annual repairs and maintenance plans for each school on the basis of information from building condition assessments, requests from schools and information gained from other sources such as consultant reports and site visits as part of an updated strategic asset management plan for 2013-14.It is clear to me that the directorate are working hard to better manage a large and ageing asset base, and I am encouraged by recent innovations in the construction of new schools. Good infrastructure planning involves thinking creatively about the solutions to future challenges rather than doing things in the same old way. It is also about employing innovative technologies where they are warranted. This is pertinent to all governments around Australia, and the ACT is doing quite well in this regard.

The government has committed to carbon neutrality for all schools by 2017, and this is worth noting because it goes to issues such as the use of electricity and also matters like insulation, which clearly have an impact on the comfort of school buildings on both hot and cold days. The ACT has the potential to be Australia’s most sustainable jurisdiction, with a number of green star rated schools. At least six government schools in the ACT are either certified or registered to achieve green star ratings, including Harrison Secondary College and Gold Creek Primary School’s environment centre.

The rollout and installation of solar power generation systems at all public schools continues, in conjunction with the rollout of solar power systems. The Education and Training Directorate is also installing smart meters to record energy and water consumption and energy generation with educational interface software. Of course, the issue of heating and cooling our classrooms is a part of this shift, and we know the ACT has one of the broadest temperature ranges in the country, from well below zero in winter to the 30s and even 40s in summer. I can understand why the Australian Education Union in particular is seeking for this matter to be discussed. With those sorts of temperature ranges, obviously the comfort performance of our buildings is incredibly important, but I think Mr Doszpot’s motion has missed the mark on some of these matters.

I do not dispute that last year saw some concerning incidents involving apparent equipment failures being reported, but I am not sure all these incidents can be related to a lack of maintenance. Sometimes things just break, and I think it is fair enough to acknowledge that. While I can appreciate some plausible link between increasing student numbers and issues of heating and cooling comfort, I am not sure how quantifiable that is—for example, how many students equal what level of air conditioning?

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