Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt today called on the Newman Government to wake-up to the explosive growth in the school-age population in the southern corridor of Cairns.

“Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek must speed-up the planning process and make funding available to build the new schools the region needs,” said Mr Pitt, the Member for Mulgrave.

“I find it deeply worrying that there are no plans to build new schools or expand existing schools across Cairns South when the demand mapping shows such a clear need.

“It should be no surprise to anyone that there will be thousands more pupils in the Cairns southern corridor in the years ahead as it has long been identified as a high growth zone.”

“There are no plans to build infrastructure to accommodate the rise in student numbers even though the official government forecast is that there will be 4,500 additional students in southern Cairns and Gordonvale by 2031.

“It is time Mr Langbroek woke up to this looming crisis.

“He cannot announce a Schools Planning Commission to great fanfare and then ignore the demand mapping for our region – clearly the Far North is not on his priority list.

“I will be watching carefully the findings of the ‘medium to long-term’ demand which is expected from the Department early next year,” he said.

“Under Labor, Education Queensland had a rolling 20-year plan for infrastructure which was updated annually.

“In November 2011, the Labor Government released its 20-year Queensland Infrastructure Plan, which outlined all the infrastructure that would be needed, including the number of schools that would be required in various regions over the next 20 years.

“For FNQ, this included up to four new primary schools and up to 10 secondary schools, with the majority in the southern corridor.

Mr Pitt also repeated his call for the Newman Government to reveal what had happened to the funding for Cairns Special School.

“When the LNP came to power it inherited plans for a $32 million, world-class school for students with disabilities in Cairns. The previous Labor Government set aside $25 million in capital funding, but after 20 months in office the LNP has done nothing.

“Seven months ago I asked why the LNP hadn’t commenced the project. All we saw in response was a kneejerk announcement of funding for a ‘feasibility study’ for this school which most people agreed has been needed for years.

“Under Labor, the Cairns Special School would have been built in time for students to enrol for the 2014 school year but the LNP members for Cairns and Barron River have gone missing in action on this issue.

“Families in the Far North with students with a disability who could benefit from the new school option are still waiting for this government to act,” he said.