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Olympics blamed for budget cuts

AUSTRALIA. The New South Wales Labor government has been accused of mortgaging the learning of the state's one million schoolchildren to pay for the Olympic games, to be held in Sydney in 2000.

Australia's biggest state education authority is facing its third consecutive year of cuts in spending on refurbishing and building schools. The NSW government announced money for capital works in schools would be slashed by 13.6 per cent over the next financial year.

This follows a 14 per cent reduction imposed in the previous budget. Government figures show capital works spending on schools has fallen from $176 million (Pounds 88m) in 1995-96 to a projected $130m Pounds 65m) over the next 12 months.

The NSW Teachers Federation condemned the cuts saying the government was shifting funds from schools to build sporting facilities for the Olympics.

But John Aquilina, education minister, said that despite the cuts in capital works, enrolment growth and students' needs were being met.

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