Education Minister Grace Grace has slammed the Opposition Leader for doing a complete about-face on her unfunded promise to air-condition all Queensland classrooms.
“In her Budget Reply speech today, Deb Frecklington promised that she would air-condition all Queensland classrooms, if she were the Premier,” Ms Grace said.
“But within minutes of leaving the Chamber, she tweeted that her promise only applied to state schools.
“What a slap in the face to the students, teachers and staff in our Independent and Catholic schools across the state.”
Ms Grace called on the LNP Leader to reveal how she would fund the promise.
“There are more than 32,000 classrooms at 1240 state schools and in Queensland,” she said.
“When the LNP were in office they rejected any proposal to fully fund air-conditioning in all Queensland state schools, due to the cost.
“The then-Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said it would cost $2 billion to install air-conditioning in all Queensland state schools, plus $50 million annually for maintenance.
“At the time, he said there was ‘limited money’ and they had to ‘try to balance a budget’.
“Now the LNP is saying they will fully fund air-conditioning in our schools, but where would they get the money to do that?
“We know the LNP loves cuts – what would they cut to fund their air-con promise?
“A cost of $2 billion is more than double the entire annual infrastructure budget for state schools, which funds the delivery of the new classrooms and classroom buildings Queensland needs for the future.
“How can the LNP leader be so obsessed with the State debt level one minute, then promise to double the education infrastructure budget the next?”
Ms Grace said more than 380 state schools in the hottest and most humid parts of our state were already air-conditioned through the Cooler Schools program.
“I acknowledge that heat management during the Summer months is an important issue for many school communities outside of the Cooler Schools Zone,” she said.
“That’s why our Government is partnering with schools across the state to help them reduce air-conditioning running costs through our Advancing Clean Energy Schools (ACES) program.
“We also work with schools and P&Cs to find ways to install air-conditioning outside the Cooler Schools Zone.
“State schools are among the Government’s largest energy users – with an annual energy bill of more than $50 million – and the ACES program will save schools around $10 million a year.”
Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
The Honourable Grace Grace