Phone survey finds strong support for Gracemere High School
THREE out of four Rockhampton and Gracemere residents are in favour of building Gracemere a new high school according to a One Nation survey of more than 3200 people last week.
The phone survey asked local residents if supporting building a high school at Gracemere was a good or bad idea, with 76.3 per cent of respondents voting to support the plan.
One Nation’s candidate for Rockhampton Torin O’Brien said the evidence was clear this new school was something wanted by the community.
“Gracemere wants and deserves a high school but instead they’re being ignored by Labor who are quite happy to irresponsibly jam-pack high school students onto buses and send them to Rockhampton,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The Labor Party is insistent on having high schools of over 1500 students in Rockhampton, which in my view is a recipe for disaster because they’re more likely to be a breeding pit for bullying and fights the bigger they get.”
The One Nation candidate door knocked residents throughout Gracemere this week, with an overwhelming level of support from residents and families throughout the district.
“What Mr. O’Rourke fails to recognise is that Gracemere is a very fast-growing community which is clearly big enough for a Woolworths and other specialty stores, but not big enough for a high school?” he asked.
“I’m sick of the local member peddling this diatribe from his puppet masters in Brisbane who wouldn’t even know where Gracemere is.
“The two major parties have stood in the way of Gracemere having its own postcode and high school for too long.
“At a state level, I’m determined to give them the support they need to build the high school.”
While stopping short of promising to fund the construction of a new high school until his party had a clear understanding of the state’s finances, the LNP’s candidate for Rockhampton Tony Hopkins said today he would be campaigning for the new high school to be built.
Despite mounting pressure to act on the issue, Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke and Education Minister Grace Grace continue to assert there weren’t enough students to justify the new school.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see a high school at Gracemere. Of course I would – and I understand why local families are pushing for one,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“But the numbers just do not stack up and the education department has very clearly said it is not feasible at present.
“The idea that we should be overriding that well-informed advice to score votes is disgusting.”
By pushing ahead with the school as per the wishes of the LNP, One Nation, NQ First, Katter’s Australian Party and Rockhampton region mayor Margaret Strelow, Mr O’Rourke said it would have negative consequences for other schools in the area.
“Rocky High is a fantastic local school that offers a wide range of opportunities for students, as well as some really great facilities. Unfortunately, we are now seeing a concerted political campaign to wreck the school,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“Rockhampton High currently has 1183 students, which is about 72 per cent of its capacity. It’s been roughly around that number for years.
“If we do what One Nation and the Mayor are proposing and take the 500 or so Gracemere kids away, we’ll end up with less than 700 kids, or just over 40 per cent of the school’s capacity.”
He said Rockhampton State High School couldn’t operate as it does now with such small numbers and it would result in less educational opportunities at both schools.
“It would almost certainly mean some subjects could no longer be offered and many extra-curricular activities would probably have to be scrapped or scaled back as well,” he said.
“I’m told the STEM and writing extension programs would be put at risk too.
“I don’t support that, even if it may be politically advantageous to do so. My focus as the local member is making sure that students have the best opportunities and best learning experience available.”
Minister for Education Grace Grace said the government was committed to ensuring all students, no matter where they lived, had access to quality educational facilities within their local communities.
“The Department of Education conducts ongoing analysis of local demographics through the Queensland Schools Planning Reference Committee,” Ms Grace said.
“At this stage the data shows that Gracemere does not have the student population to support a brand-new high school.
“And the Rockhampton SHS, Yeppoon SHS, North Rockhampton SHS and Glenmore SHS all remain well below enrolment capacity.”
In the wake of the global recession due to COVID-19, Ms Grace said her government was investing in its plan to Unite and Recover for Queensland jobs.
“That includes investing in new infrastructure at your local school, as well as supporting small businesses, reducing electricity prices and investing in major road projects,” she said.