There is no doubt that big investments in education are most welcome. But governments should be mindful that those investments are spent in the most constructive, state and nation building manner. In September 2020, it was announced that the McGowan Labor government had teamed up with the Federal Liberals to spend over $1 billion to build new ECU and Curtin campuses right in the centre of Perth.
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I certainly do not begrudge the City of Perth securing this windfall investment. But I can foresee that the inevitable complaints of congestion both during and after construction will see even more demands for additional infrastructure spending in the CBD. Meanwhile, two of the most common complaints from regional centres are that our youth continue to be drawn to Perth for education and employment opportunities, depleting our communities of our most valuable resource; and that our town centres, spattered with empty shopfronts, desperately need revitalisation.
This is another case of successive WA governments putting too many eggs in one basket. There is a whole other world beyond the Perth metropolitan region. Imagine what such an investment would do to the regional centres of WA?
$1 billion in tertiary education – TAFE and Uni – would completely transform our regional centres. It would create many more local opportunities for our youth and for mature age students as well. If shared on a per capita basis among the 12 largest centres.
- Greater Bunbury (including Collie and Harvey) would receive approximately $275 million;
- Geraldton @ $145m
- Kalgoorlie @ $135m
- Albany @ $110m
- Busselton @ $80m
- Karratha @ $65m
- Port Hedland @ $45m
- Esperance and Carnarvon @ $35m each
- Kununurra and Manjimup @ $20m each