No sound reason for scrapping Public-Private Partnerships

Simeon Brown

Wellington, July 13, 2018

A recently released Cabinet Paper shows that the Government is going ahead with axing Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for building and maintaining schools, but the reasons for doing so simply don’t stack up.

PPPs are an effective way of building long-lasting school buildings quickly and removing the burden of school property management from teachers and boards so that they can focus on students’ learning.

The PPP model has also helped to save millions of dollars which have been reinvested into the school property portfolio. Scrapping PPPs will mean less money for school property.

Flimsy Reasons

The reasons listed in the Cabinet Paper for why PPPs for schools should be scrapped are flimsy and at odds with its approach to PPPs for transport. It has never given a good reason for the difference between having PPPs for transport but not for school infrastructure.

Labour’s ideological approach to PPPs is only going to make it harder to build safe, modern facilities quickly and means teachers will have to spend more time managing school property rather than on students.

National’s investment

National invested a record $5 billion in school property.

This included projects fixing leaky buildings and legacy issues as well as the Christchurch schools rebuild, the $79 million Western Springs College rebuild and the $22 million upgrade for The Gardens School.

But we knew there was still more to do.

That is why a further $4.85 billion had been set aside for school property, with PPPs being a key way to maximize that investment.

Without PPPs, the Government will struggle to make the investments needed into school property and given Labour’s recent U-turn on PPPs for prisons, I hope Education Minister Chris Hipkins will see sense to do the same on PPPs for school buildings.

Simeon Brown is elected Member of Parliament from Pakuranga (East Auckland) and National Party’s Associate Education Spokesperson.

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