Newman Government to sell off land meant for schools
AT LEAST two blocks of land reserved for future public schools in resource-booming areas will be sold off despite a prediction for greater population growth.
But while admitting the land in Chinchilla and Toolooa, near Gladstone, has been either declared a "surplus" and will be on the market, Education Minister John Paul-Langbroek has not ruled out buying other parcels of land for future facilities.
Land on Dalrymple Road, Tooolooa, and Sheriff St, Chinchilla, were both identified in a lengthy list of education assets, including land reserved for schools and teacher housing, up for sale.
It was revealed last month land at Calliope, originally reserved for a high school, was also being sold.
The Queensland Teachers Union says the land could have been used to accommodate and attract teachers to areas with high real estate prices but the government says the land sale income will go to fixing a maintenance backlog across schools.
Asked if the government would buy other sites to plan for future schools in the areas, Mr Langbroek said the government was not planning in response to where "loud protestors" demanded a school.
"Those are things we are looking at with our School Plans Commission," he said.
"Some of the pressure we have been getting from some of those areas is more or less trying to pick favourites because of where development is happening."
In Chinchilla, located in the coal seam gas region of the Darling Downs, Queensland Government statistics estimate the population to grow from 7034 in 2011 to 9065 in 2031.
According to Gladstone Regional Council figures, the LNG-hub's population is expected to continue growing at about 3% per year until 2031.
Mr Langbroek said the Schools Planning Commission had identified two potential sites in the Gladstone area as suitable for a high school.
"...but whether it is that area or in Rockhampton where people have got housing developments and are saying 'we demand a school here'... that is not how we work as a government," he said.
Mr Langbroek said it had been clearly identified there were other sites south of Gladstone and west of Tannum Sands that we believe are going to need schools in the future
Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said the land could have been used for teacher accommodation.
"In areas such as Chinchilla and Gladstone, we can't get teachers to work in those areas because accommodation is not available or too expensive to live there," he said.
Mr Bates said for Mr Langbroek to describe community views as "loud protestors" was disrespectful to the extreme.
But he conceded the best interests of the community needed to be weighed up and not purely based on one particular interest group.