Toowoomba students left 'shivering in the cold'

FUNDING for a new school hall in Toowoomba has become a contentious issue with two governments volleying the matter across the table.

Toowoomba North MP Trevor Watts and Education Minister Kate Jones have gone head-to-head on a number of occasions regarding funding for an arts and sports hall at Toowoomba State High School.

Mr Watts has raised the issue in State Parliament on at least three occasions and tabled one Question on Notice, calling for funding and support for the Wilsonton campus project.

He claimed an LNP win at the State Election this year would have resulted in the hall being built, but Ms Jones returned fire citing the Newman Government's capital funding pressures and Federal Government cuts.

Mr Watts claimed the State Government was forcing 800 students to "stand out in subzero temperatures" and letting their parents down in what he called a "Labor heartland" voting booth.

"I have 850 children asking me why the minister would neglect them and leave them shivering in the cold with nowhere to shelter," Mr Watts told State Parliament on June 17.

"This area of my electorate is Labor heartland. The government should feel disgraced.

"These people voted 60 per cent for this government and it is a slap in the face for them to leave their children standing outside on a windy day with nowhere to shelter.

"This is only the second school in Queensland like this."

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The comments followed Ms Jones' response to a Question on Notice filed on March 27 at which time Mr Watts asked for a funding commitment.

Ms Jones said the Department of Education continued to liaise with the Wilsonton campus community, but shunted blame back to the LNP and the Federal Government.

"However, capital funding for the 2015/16 year has been placed under considerable pressure owing to the previous government's commitment to allocate more than a third of the capital budget to pay down a large part of the capital component of the school Public Private Partnership that they negotiated for construction of schools in South East Queensland only," Ms Jones said in her reply.

"This commitment of $105 million from the capital works budget for 2015/16 has placed significant constraint on other new capital works in that financial year for projects like this one.

"I can advise further, modelling prepared by the Department of Education and Training on the Australian Government's $30 billion cuts to education translates to a $6b reduction in future funding for all Queensland schools."

She called on Mr Watts to give bipartisan support to her calls for increased federal funding for Queensland schools.

Mr Watts had previously called on Ms Jones to visit the school but she has yet to do so.

Ms Jones officially opened the Highfields State Secondary College yesterday.


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