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.”