Wednesday, 18 March 2009
I rise to talk about the important initiative of the Rudd Labor government of Building the Education Revolution and in doing so committing to deliver a $14.7 billion boost to infrastructure in our schools. This is the largest-ever investment in infrastructure in schools that has been undertaken across this country, and that is why it is so important that as members of the government and as local members we work with our schools on this initiative. Of course I have been out on a constant basis since this initiative was introduced to talk to schools in my electorate, to talk to P&Cs and to talk to P&Fs about this initiative. I forwarded the guidelines released by the federal government to every one of the schools in my electorate—the primary schools, the secondary schools, the special schools and the prep to grade 12 schools—so they knew what the guidelines were. And if they had questions then I was there to assist them with those questions.
They were also working closely with the state members, and I working closely with the state members to talk to them about how the Queensland government is going to assist in rolling out this major infrastructure work within the schools and supporting local jobs. Of course with such a significant project and with such tight timelines, which are necessary to support jobs in our local communities that are under pressure right now, there are going to be issues that arise and there is going to be confusion from time to time. That is why it is so important that we work closely with our schools to deal with these problems and to move forward.
This week a particular school, Eatons Hill State School, has come to light in the seat of Dickson. Unfortunately, much has been raised about this school simply wanting to sort out how it can build its hall. I have been to this school, I have seen where the hall is proposed to be built, I have seen the library the school seeks to extend and I have had the opportunity of looking at the plans of the school. I congratulate the school for the work that it has done in planning, in raising money and in getting the grants that it did. But, of course, that was not enough to fully build this hall. It is great that, with this money, we can step in and say that there is additional funding to see this hall completed. However, I am very curious about what the local Liberal-National Party candidate was doing in relation to this particular issue. In the North-West News Mr Knox, the LNP candidate, was quoted as saying:
We are working hard to try and resolve it for them, they have been working on this project since 2004 and it is ready to go.
If I were Mr Rudd I would be keen to support a project that is ready to go.
That is fantastic, but who was Mr Knox working hard with to try and resolve this issue? Was it his federal member? Was it the member for Dickson? I know the member for Dickson was aware of this issue. I made sure I specifically asked that question so that I was not going out and doing work that was already being undertaken by the local federal member when I spoke to the principal, so I know that we were both aware of this issue. Mr Knox certainly did not contact me to try to resolve this issue. If he contacted his federal member, the question has to be asked: what did the federal member do to assist the school in clarifying whether they were, in fact, eligible under the guidelines? What I have to presume is that Mr Knox from the LNP is very much following, in Queensland, the line of the federal Liberals and Nationals—that is, saying one thing and doing another. I think that is extremely disappointing.
What we know is that the LNP in Queensland is about stripping jobs, not supporting schools. This is just rhetoric. There was, I believe, very little work done in supporting this school. I do not believe that in Queensland we would see, under the LNP, any genuine commitment to assisting our schools and assisting the federal government in delivering what it needs to. (Time expired)