08/02/2021 - 08:00

Stimulus boosts school projects

08/02/2021 - 08:00

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Architects have been major beneficiaries of the state government’s COVID-19 stimulus, with a host of firms securing contracts to redesign public schools in recent months.

Stimulus boosts school projects
Twenty WA architecture firms have shared in more than $200 million worth of school design and upgrades. Photo: MChe Le

Architects have been major beneficiaries of the state government’s COVID-19 stimulus, with a host of firms securing contracts to redesign public schools in recent months.

Data from the office of Education Minister Sue Ellery shows 20 separate architecture firms have shared in more than $200 million of design work and upgrades for Western Australian schools.

Hames Sharley, Cameron Chisholm Nicol and Oldfield Knott Architects were among the notable beneficiaries of contracts, with those firms ranking first, fourth and sixth by total staffing numbers on the Business News Data & Insights architects list.

CHRISTOU Design Group, which ranks 12th on the list, and Carabiner (23rd) were the biggest winners by number of contracts awarded, with each firm securing four contracts.

While major contracts were awarded for the redesign of schools in the Liberal Party WA-held seats of Carine and Kalgoorlie, 31 of 33 architecture contracts awarded since November went to schools in electorates held by WA Labor.

Pilbara and Murray-Wellington, two regional, marginal electorates held by Labor, were among the biggest beneficiaries by number of contracts awarded, each receiving three upgrades.

Murray-Wellington is held by Robyn Clarke on a two-point margin and is considered one of the most marginal seats at the upcoming state election; Ms Clarke eked out a narrow win against three-term incumbent Murray Cowper in 2017.

Michelle Boylan, a former school chaplain, will contest the seat on behalf of the Liberal Party WA in March. Pilbara, which is held by Kevin Michel on a similarly narrow margin, was previously held by The Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls between 2013 and 2017.

Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco, who had been a member of WA Labor until endorsing Mr Grylls’ campaign in 2017, will contest the seat on behalf of the Liberal Party WA.

Mr Blanco was suspended from his position along with the rest of the town’s council in 2019. Swan Hills, a bellwether seat in Perth’s outer suburbs, also received three contracts, with Jessica Shaw holding the seat for WA Labor on a safe, 12-point margin.

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