CQ’s ‘bread­crumbs again’ de­spite mil­lions promised

The Morning Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - Leighton Smith Leighton.Smith@cap­

THE long-re­quested Gracemere high school was over­looked yet again when the Palaszczuk govern­ment dished out $308 mil­lion in ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing prom­ises on Fri­day.

Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk said $308m in new fund­ing would in­crease the Build­ing Fu­ture Schools for Queens­land fund to $808m which would help de­liver seven new sec­ondary schools, one spe­cial school and two pri­mary schools, and plan for an­other seven schools.

Act­ing Rock­hamp­ton Mayor Tony Wil­liams and In­de­pen­dent can­di­date for Rock­hamp­ton Mar­garet Strelow have voiced their frus­tra­tion at the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to tar­get south­east Queens­land schools with their cam­paign prom­ises by only pro­vid­ing a mea­gre of­fer to CQ of $2.5m to re­fur­bish two blocks at North Rock­hamp­ton High.

“While we of course wel­come the recog­ni­tion that re­gional Queens­land ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties need in­vest­ment, here in Rock­hamp­ton we were dis­ap­pointed not to see a com­mit­ment to a new high school in Gracemere,” Cr Wil­liams said.

“Council is con­cerned about the safety of the 1000 plus high school stu­dents who do the jour­ney from Gracemere each day, not to men­tion the im­pact on traf­fic in the re­gion.

“There is a well-placed site owned by Ed­u­ca­tion Queens­land that is ready to go and hav­ing a school there would make a huge dif­fer­ence to the res­i­dents of Gracemere and the re­gion more widely.”

Cr Wil­liams said they had been push­ing suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments hard to recog­nise the im­por­tance of a new school since 2012 and with more than 2300 new dwellings in Gracemere ex­pected by 2031, the de­mand for a school would only in­crease.

He vowed to con­tinue lob­by­ing and urged all po­lit­i­cal par­ties to com­mit to the project.

Ms Strelow said the de­ci­sion to over­look Gracemere was an­other case of “bread­crumbs again” for CQ.

She listed the fund­ing com­mit­ment, which in­cluded $500m for two in­ner-city schools in Bris­bane, six schools in the south­east cor­ner at an av­er­age of $50m each and 17 re­fur­bish­ments through­out Queens­land of at least $10m each.

“We didn’t get any of those and Gracemere’s still wait­ing for its high school,” Ms Strelow said.

“We had the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter fly to Rock­hamp­ton to an­nounce a $2.5m re­fur­bish­ment of two blocks at North Rock­hamp­ton High.

“We’re still get­ting bread­crumbs and it’s just not good enough,” Ms Strelow said, wav­ing a box of Krum­mies bread­crumbs.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Kate Jones said the Queens­land School Plan­ning Ref­er­ence Com­mit­tee, an in­de­pen­dent body, re­views data and had been mon­i­tor­ing the Gracemere sit­u­a­tion.

Ms Jones said Gracemere cur­rently had 269 chil­dren mak­ing the com­mute to Rock­hamp­ton. She said this num­ber needed to be be­tween 600 and 800.

If current growth rate lev­els con­tinue, it’s es­ti­mated Gracemere will reach this fig­ure by 2025.

Ms Jones said many other ar­eas were also grow­ing, cit­ing Cal­liope as an ex­am­ple.

Rock­hamp­ton La­bor can­di­date Barry O’Rourke said the de­ci­sion to build a Gracemere high school rested in the hands of the in­de­pen­dent plan­ning com­mit­tee that was at­tached to Ed­u­ca­tion Queens­land.

“When they say we need a high school in Gracemere, the La­bor govern­ment will act,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“We al­ready have land iden­ti­fied there in Lu­cas St, we’ve got a nice big par­cel of land and as soon as that de­mand is there, it’s there to go.”

❝Hav­ing a school there would make a huge dif­fer­ence to the res­i­dents of Gracemere.

— Cr Tony Wil­liams


FIGHT­ING FOR CQ: In­de­pen­dent can­di­date Mar­garet Strelow says the govern­ment is of­fer­ing Rock­hamp­ton crumbs when it comes to elec­tion prom­ises.

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