Rocky candidates reveal positions on Gracemere high school
AS THE state election campaign wears on, the Morning Bulletin continues to put the Rockhampton candidates through their paces, testing their support on key issues for the region.
Today's question has proven to be a hot button topic this election.
Do you support building Gracemere High School?
Wade Rothery - One Nation Party:
One Nation Candidate for Rockhampton Wade Rothery said the Gracemere high school should have been on the cards a long time ago, yet it's just another example of governments overlooking the needs of regional Queenslanders.
"With over 8,000 residents now living in Gracemere, the town has matured into a fully fledged suburb,” Mr Rothery said.
"It's an evolving region with plenty of younger families and three well attended primary schools, yet no high school.”
He said kids deserved the opportunity to transition from primary to secondary school close to home.
"It's imperative we get plans on the drawing board to finally give Gracemere residents peace of mind that their kids will have a secondary education without having to travel by bus for 30 minutes each morning and afternoon,” Mr Rothery said.
Kate Giamarelos - Greens:
Greens candidate for Rockhampton Kate Giamarelos said Gracemere's population had more than doubled over the last 10 years.
"A high school for the area makes perfect sense,” she said.
"This will relieve the day to day pressures on families by eliminating a commute to Rockhampton, and it will also reduce the congestion along the Capricorn highway.
"A high school will provide jobs for the region in construction, maintenance and of course education. Furthermore, the high school's facilities will be a great asset to the whole community.”
Douglas Rodgers - LNP:
LNP deputy opposition leader Deb Frecklington said her party was well aware of Gracemere high school debate.
"The LNP have committed to listening to the Schools Planning Commission that we have set up to make sure what schools are needed across Queensland,” Ms Frecklington said.
"That's exactly where people should be guided by who and when needs more schools.
"We need to look at what funding Gracemere has and what facilities they have to make sure the kids are well being looked after.”
LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers said he was whole-heartedly in favour of developing a high school for Gracemere.
"It is a key infrastructure project for the region and has a huge potential to improve the lives of the young families of Gracemere and surround areas like Kabra, Bouldercombe, etc,” Mr Rodgers said.
"The LNP will re-instate the independent commission for identifying schools that need building.
"Unlike Labor's pork-barreling approach that focusses on the South east corner, we will build where the need is greatest. I will be fighting for Gracemere to be fairly identified in that process.”
Margaret Strelow- Independent:
Independent candidate for Rockhampton Margaret Strelow said she was disappointed to see six new schools committed by the government and all of them in the south-east corner.
"The State Government (both sides of politics over many years) have told us that the growth rates weren't high enough in Gracemere,” Ms Strelow said.
"That schools are built in response to growth but lack of schools also limits growth it becomes a never-ending cycle.
"I would propose a partnership with council that would see the sporting fields developed and one or two buildings that would accommodate a satellite campus for Rockhampton High School.”
Ms Strelow said this campus could deliver subjects that don't require specialist facilities like Maths and Languages in the first instance and then gradually build up to meet demand from this fast growing community.
"Careful timetabling might see parents avoiding the drive for at least one day a week,” she said.
Barry O'Rourke - Labor:
Queensland Government's Education Minister Kate Jones said the Queensland School Planning Reference Committee, an independent body, reviews the data and had been monitoring the Gracemere situation.
Ms Jones said 541 students currently attend state schools in Rockhampton from the Gracemere area and beyond.
Approximately 500 students travel by bus from Gracemere and the surrounding rural area to attend State, Catholic and Independent secondary schools in Rockhampton.
She said this number needed to be between 600 and 800.
If current growth rate levels continue, it's estimated Gracemere will reach this figure by 2025.
Ms Jones said many other areas were also growing, citing Calliope as an example.
Rockhampton Labor candidate Barry O'Rourke said the decision to build a Gracemere high school rested in the hands of the independent planning committee which was attached to Education Queensland.
"When they say we need a high school in Gracemere, the Labor government will act,” Mr O'Rourke said.
"We already have land identified there in Lucas St, we've got a nice big parcel of land and as soon as that demand is there, it's there to go.”