The communities on Townsville’s Northern Beaches are growing. From Bushland Beach to Rollingstone, it’s a lively part of our city. I’m proud to represent them. Of course, with residential growth comes the need for infrastructure. This is true not only for hard infrastructure like sewerage, water and roads, but for soft infrastructure, such as sports facilities, health services and schools.
In October 2011, I asked the former Bligh Government a question about plans for future schools in the Hinchinbrook electorate. I was shocked to learn that Labor had not progressed plans for a school at Burdell, given the population was expanding rapidly. I then began my campaign for this primary school to be delivered, in recognition that Bohlevale State School was at capacity.
The former LNP Government then put the Queensland Schools Planning Commission in place, resulting in clear recommendations about the need for new schools on Townsville’s Northern Beaches, as the residential population continued to boom. Townsville’s Catholic Education Office had looked ahead, delivering and accelerating the expansion of St Clare’s Catholic Primary School.
With Townsville Grammar also having revealed its plans to establish a junior school campus, I welcomed the budget allocation mid-2015 to deliver a new state primary school in Burdell. With a 2016 land designation and a recent announcement that construction will commence in early 2017, I hope this means the new state primary school will be ready on time to open at the start of 2018.
However, one of the most significant logistical challenges for families on Townsville’s Northern Beaches is the daily requirement to cross the Bruce Highway multiple times to access schools, be it west to east to get to Bohlevale State School, or east to west to access Northern Beaches State High School, or St Anthony’s College. This can be a time consuming and frustrating exercise.
I believe the solution to this problem is to plan ahead to accommodate the continued growth in the residential population on Townsville’s Northern Beaches. In my view, it would make sense to establish a new state high school adjacent to the new state primary school at Burdell and to co-locate a further new state primary school with the existing Northern Beaches State High School.
The establishment of two Prep to Year 12 colleges on Townsville’s Northern Beaches – one either side of the Bruce Highway – would both eliminate the daily nightmare of multiple road crossings and ensure that the current and future education needs of the families in this area were supported. Education infrastructure is a critical issue for Townsville’s current and future generations.
With the new state primary school about to be built at Burdell, now is the time to put this plan in place. The Palaszczuk Government must not make the same mistake as the Bligh Government and fail to plan for the future education needs of families on Townsville’s Northern Beaches. I will continue to advocate strongly for these communities within the Hinchinbrook electorate.