MP Jason Costigan says all children should have returned to school this week. Picture: Tony Martin.
MP Jason Costigan says all children should have returned to school this week. Picture: Tony Martin.

‘All kids should be going back to school’: Costigan

“PEOPLE should be going to The Goat and getting giddy, and all of the kids should be going back to school.”

That is what Jason Costigan said yesterday as the leader of North Queensland First continued his attack on the Queensland Teachers Union.

“This is Rockhampton, not Rockdale,” Mr Costigan said.

“We should be getting back to normal.”

Mr Costigan says the union is controlling the Queensland Government and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s announcement this week that children will return to schools in a staged rollout, is not good enough.

From Monday, Queensland’s kindergarten, Prep and Year 1, 11, and 12 students will go back to school.

But Ms Palaszczuk said the government would reassess on May 15 for the rest of the grades, with the intention of sending all students back by May 25.

The Premier conceded it had been a difficult juggling period for parents with children learning from home.

But Mr Costigan was highly critical and said the arrangements “are not commensurate with the situation on the ground in CQ and NQ communities”.

“This is not Surfers Paradise, this is not Bondi,” Mr Costigan said.

“There’s been serious overkill here for communities way beyond the epicentre of this pandemic in Australia.

“Some 80,000 or so people in the Rockhampton region and no coronavirus cases right now. There’s probably more chance of rabies coming through Port Alma.”

Mr Costigan said schools in CQ and NQ should have returned to normal this week.

“We’ve all heard the advice of the Federal Government’s Chief Health Officer but sadly, we have the Queensland Government taking a different view.

“All because of the QTU, which is pulling the strings at the highest levels of government in Queensland.”

Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said the Queensland Government had made the right decision with its staged rollout.

“We’ve previously been accused of having our hands around the throats of the government,” he said.

“From our perspective, there are good health and safety issues that have now been addressed by government.

“The press conference was very clear on Monday that health and safety of everybody in schools remains a focus for government, as it should be.”

When asked about Mr Costigan’s “pulling the strings” comment, Mr Bates said this.

“Flippantly in the past, I’ve commented that if we were pulling the strings and had so much say, things wouldn’t be happening the way they are,” Mr Bates said.

“But you know, we don’t get everything we want in life.

“We put our members’ views forward very strongly, that’s our job and we’ve been doing it for 131 years in Queensland.

“The fact that we advocate for our members is not a basis for criticism.”

The Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment.



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