A few weeks ago I revealed in Parliament that the National government have spent $3.5 million developing the business case for a new school in Hobsonville to be built under a Public-Private Partnership. That school is forecast to save $2 million over the 25 year lifespan of the contract, in other words, a lot less than the Business Case cost to develop in the first place.
At the time Craig Foss, the Associate Minister of Education, argued that the blowout in the cost of the Business Case was justified as it could be used as a template for other PPPs for schools. Interesting to note, therefore, that Hekia Parata confirmed at the Education and Science Select Committee this morning that her Ministry will be employing a $100k a year Relationship Manager to oversee the new project in Hobsonville. Over the life of the PPP, that would equate to another $2.5 million.
There is simply no way this PPP is going to save the taxpayer money. In fact, quite the opposite. This school is proving to be considerably more costly than if we’d just built it using traditional public sector practices. Will every PPP school have one of these managers paid for by the taxpayer?
I’m pretty sure there will be a number of boards and principals around the country who will be shaking their heads at this. The government have argued that PPPs could ‘free up’ boards and principals by reducing the amount of time they spend managing property. I’m sure every public school in the country would argue they could ‘free up’ quite a bit of time if they were given an extra $100,000 a year to manage their facilities…