State Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has asked the Newman LNP Government what happened to the
funding that was set aside by Labor for the $32 million Cairns Special School.
Mr Pitt, the former Minister for Disability Services, said the school was to become a flagship for the
education of students with disabilities, to ensure that our students with disabilities in the Cairns region
have access world class special education programs.
“There is already a strong need for resources for students with disabilities in the Far North and this
demand is increasing,” Mr Pitt said.
“The special school would have not only created up to 125 additional placements for students, but
would have relieved pressure on other education services for students with a disability in the region.
“The former Labor Government had committed a total of $25 million in capital funding from the existing Department of Education growth capital funding. This wasn’t new money and the commitment was fully costed.
“Has this money now been directed elsewhere and if so, why has the Newman Government put plans
for the Cairns Special School on the backburner?
“The LNP Government has form redirecting funds, in its first year shelving the $33 million Cairns CBD
redevelopment, the $57 million entertainment precinct project and the $12 million Mareeba airport
“During my first speech to parliament this term, I flagged that I wanted the support of the LNP members for Cairns and Barron River to push for the construction of a $32 million special school for Far North Queensland.
“I call on Gavin King and Michael Trout to work with me to ensure this vital initiative becomes a reality
for our region.
“I understand Disability Services Minister Tracy Davis will be in Cairns tomorrow so it provides a perfect
opportunity Mr King and Mr Trout to ask what the future holds for this project.”
Mr Pitt said under Labor, construction on the Cairns Special School was to have commenced in this
year to be ready for students to enrol for the 2014 school year.
“Two sites were identified by Education Queensland – Bentley Park College and Trinity Bay State High
School, already home to the School of Distance Education and Flexible Learning Centre,” he said.
“My preference would be Bentley Park College but this special school would be welcome anywhere in
the region to ensure the provision of quality education for the broader Far North Queensland
Mr Pitt said he was acutely aware that there are mixed views in the community about educational
approaches for students with disabilities.
“I know there are some parents who want their son or daughter with a disability to have a fully
integrated educational experience and this is why many schools have special education units,” he said.
“There are others who believe the best approach is a special school that has a singular focus on
students with disability.
“Our system can cater for both and provide choice for students with disability, their parents and their
Mr Pitt said in 2011–12, the previous Labor Government injected more than $20 million to upgrade
Queensland’s 43 state special schools.