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National’s short-sightedness puts kids at risk

Annette
KING
Deputy Leader
MP for Rongotai

9 November 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
National’s short-sightedness puts kids at risk

The Government’s quick-fix solution to earthquake strengthening a Wellington secondary school could come back to haunt it, Labour’s deputy leader and MP for Rongotai, Annette King says.

“The Education Ministry’s plan to strengthen the main block at Wellington East Girls to less than levels recommended by engineering experts is astounding.

“Has National not learnt from Christchurch? I am fully behind Principal Sally Haughton and the Board. Their determination that students and staff don’t return to the building until it is really safe is totally the right one,” Annette King said.

“No parent, and no teacher, wants their kids spending their day in a building that doesn’t meet acceptable standards. It is another tragedy waiting to happen.

“The Government has to do this once, and it has to do it right. There are other schools in my electorate, including St Patrick’s, Rongotai College and Island Bay Primary, that have also been identified as needing strengthening work done.

“The Ministry is happy to bring these buildings up to 40 per cent of the National Building Standard. The New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineers and the Institute of Professional Engineers argue the level should be at least 67 per cent,” Annette King said.

“At the same time we have the Royal Commission on the Canterbury Earthquakes being told the effectiveness of retro-fitting older buildings has been overstated.

“Let’s get this right the first time. Cutting corners isn’t an option here. A quick fix is short-sighted, it’s dangerous and it’s putting the lives of our kids and their teachers at risk.

“The Minister needs to take the lead on this matter, listen to the understandable concerns of the school, the pupils, and the parents, and ensure the highest possible standards are adhered to,” Annette King said.

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