Building the Education Revolution Scheme scores an ‘F’

Published 10 April 2014

UNE Business School researcher Professor Brian Dollery is one of three Australian academics, who have condemned the $16.2 billion Building the Education Revolution scheme in a research paper as ‘an international case study of government failure’.

The research paper, ‘Building the Education Revolution: Another Case of Australian Government Failure?’ published this month, in the International Journal of Public Administration, argues the stimulus program failed spectacularly to deliver on several counts.

Professor Dollery said the BER was the perfect case-study of the pitfalls governments need to avoid when rolling out large-scale public expenditure programs.

Professor Dollery says the scheme was a case study in government failure.

“The BER program basically ticks all the boxes of what not to do. From mismanaging massive amounts of taxpayers’ money, delivering (or not delivering) infrastructure that fails to meet even the most basic tests of quality or usefulness, and making a negative contribution to the (then) macroeconomic stimulus program,” Professor Dollery said.

The researchers found that the (then) Commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations did not adequately capture ‘value for money’ factors, nor were education authorities required to report on ‘value for money’ or the ‘quality’ of the built outcomes.

“It can be argued that the BER program’s economic stimulus purpose was negative, given that the rollout actually occurred long after the worst of the impact of the GFC had already hit the Australian economy,’’ Professor Dollery said.

“Indeed, a greater proportion of BER spending occurred after the Reserve Bank of Australia tightened monetary policy through higher interest rates.”

“It thus ran counter to monetary policy, thereby negating some of the RBA policy stance” he said.

Professor Dollery is a Professor of Economics at the UNE Business School and Director of the UNE Centre for Local Government. Co-authors on the paper were Dr Michael Kortt of Southern Cross University and Dr Chris Lewis, who previously worked for Canberra University as a visiting fellow.