February 1, 2018

Premier and Minister own school water testing debacle

Premier Mark McGowan and Education Minister Sue Ellery cannot simply wipe their hands of the State Government’s failure to ensure the water at all schools was safe before the school year commenced yesterday.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan said Minister Ellery had created fear and uncertainty in the minds of many parents yesterday because she was not across her portfolio and had failed to deliver on an assurance that the water at all new schools would be lead free.

“I am very confident that our schools remain overwhelmingly safe but the Minister is responsible to every child and every parent in this state to assure them of that and giving out bottled water on the first day of school is anything but an assurance,” Dr Nahan said.

“This issue did not come as a bolt out of the blue, the Opposition raised the potential for lead in new school buildings with the Government in September last year.

“At that time the Minister representing the Minister for Education (Paul Papalia) told the Legislative Assembly:

‘The Minister has said that lead testing will be conducted at the commissioning of every new school and the taps will be flushed at the start of every new year. That is what she has committed to doing in response to any concerns that might arise.’

“It is unbelievable that in the Minister’s weekly meetings with her department that testing of lead at the new schools was not a standing agenda item until she could be reassured the testing had happened and the results were clear.

“I am pleased bottled water was provided at schools as a precautionary measure, but the fact that it was necessary to do this should be to the shame of the Minister.”

Dr Nahan said the Premier needed to give a full explanation of what his Minister knew and what actions she had taken since September last year when it was flagged that testing would be conducted at the commissioning of every new school.

“It is outrageous for the Premier to blame the bureaucrats and not hold his Minister accountable. The buck stops with them,” Dr Nahan said.

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