School boost gets ALP fo­cus back on track


Get­ting her cam­paign back on track af­ter a week of con­tro­versy, Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk has re­turned to the La­bor fun­da­men­tals and un­veiled $543 mil­lion for Queens­land schools.

The Premier made the an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day at Ever­ton Park State High School — which was planned for clo­sure in 2013 by the New­man govern­ment be­cause of low en­rol­ments be­fore be­ing re­prieved a few months later — in the Lib­eral Na­tional Party-held elec­torate of Ever­ton in Bris­bane.

The fund­ing is La­bor’s sec­ond­biggest elec­tion com­mit­ment to date, af­ter a $575m prom­ise to up­grade three hos­pi­tals.

Of the new ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing, $308m would go to build­ing pre­vi­ously unan­nounced schools in Ri­p­ley Val­ley — to get a pri­mary and sec­ondary school — Ca­bool­ture, North Lakes, Coomera and Yarra­bilba. A fur­ther $235m would be spent on re­fur­bish­ing 17 high schools.

“Some of our older schools are need­ing a boost, a re­fur­bish­ment to make sure that they can cater for the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion,” Ms Palaszczuk said. “I also know that as our pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to grow in Queens­land, we need to con­tinue ex­pand­ing and build­ing new schools.”

Ms Palaszczuk took aim at then-treasurer and cur­rent leader Tim Ni­cholls and the LNP for clos­ing schools while in of­fice from 2012 to 2015. She listed seven schools closed by the New­man govern­ment and said main­te­nance was left un­done.

“My govern­ment builds new schools,” she said. “Tim Ni­cholls closed schools.

“We are stand­ing today at Ever­ton Park State High. This school was on the chop­ping block un­der Tim Ni­cholls and Campbell New­man and through the hard work and per­se­ver­ance of this hard-work­ing school com­mu­nity ... we saved this school.”

The New­man govern­ment also built 11 schools.

The Palaszczuk govern­ment has closed four schools, but only af­ter they had no stu­dents for 18 months, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Kate Jones said. “We cer­tainly, un­like the LNP, would not close a school like Ever­ton Park in the mid­dle of Bris­bane, which is one of the fastest-grow­ing cities in Aus­tralia.”

The re­fur­bish­ment money will go to eight schools in south­east Queens­land, and to high schools in Cairns, Townsville, Proser­pine, Sa­rina, Bund­aberg, Mary­bor­ough and Toowoomba.

“The schools we have iden­ti­fied for this pro­gram are more than 30 years old and re­quire this ex­tra in­jec­tion to bring them up to a qual­ity stan­dard stu­dents and teach­ers de­serve,” the Premier said.

Ms Palaszczuk, like Mr Ni­cholls, has re­fused to out­line where the party’s an­nounce­ments would be funded in the bud­get un­til the fi­nal week of the cam­paign be­fore the elec­tion on Novem­ber 25.

“We are not mak­ing huge an­nounce­ments; we are go­ing to be very mea­sured and very re­spon­si­ble,” she said.

“This is about cater­ing for the growth that is needed across our great state.”

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