I refer to the minister’s statement yesterday concerning storm damage at Bicton Primary School. Noting that students have been temporarily relocated at Melville Primary School, what is the future, if known at this stage, for Bicton Primary School? Is it intended to be rebuilt; and, in any case, for how long will Bicton schoolchildren be located away from Bicton?
Hon LJILJANNA RAVLICH replied:
That is a very, very good question from the honourable member.
Mr President, I did put on record yesterday how surprised I was at the severity of the impact of the hurricane or -
Hon Simon O’Brien: It was a tornado.
Hon LJILJANNA RAVLICH: Tornado - and how remarkable it was that people were not walking on the street or cars were not on the road or whatever, as it apparently struck at six o’clock in the morning. Therefore, we as a community are very lucky in terms of the human impact of the tornado and the fact that nobody was hurt, be they civilians or schoolchildren. In answer to the future of Bicton Primary School, clearly we need to rebuild the school, given the substantial amount of damage done to it. I was particularly concerned about the magnitude of the damage, so there will be a major rebuild job. I had estimated that it would cost in the order of between $6 million and $8 million to rebuild. I understand that the figure of $6 million was provided by the Department of Education and Training. That really does reflect, I guess, the impact of the tornado there. I understand the damage was covered by insurance. How long exactly before the students are relocated back there will be very much governed by the safety of the site. Certainly I would need to be assured that the site is 100 per cent safe before the return of students. It has been said to me that that may not happen for a number of weeks. I think there is a view that perhaps in the immediate term - because I understand parents do want their children to go back to their normal school environment - we may have to employ a number of transportables to facilitate that transition. However, the Department of Education and Training and I as the minister will certainly be doing everything in our power to ensure that the transition is seamless and that the site is safe for the continuation of the educational program of the students.