Another political party backs building Gracemere High
ASPIRING political candidates contesting the seat of Rockhampton at the upcoming State Election are almost all in agreeance that Gracemere High School should be built with Katter’s Australian Party’s Christian Shepherd the latest to add his name to the list.
“If elected to represent Rockhampton with the balance of power this October, the KAP will fight to ensure that construction of this long-awaited educational facility commences within the next term of government,” Mr Shepherd said.
“This is one of many KAP investments in the future of Gracemere and is supported by parents, students, teachers, local community groups and Rockhampton Regional Council.”
Mr Shepherd said Gracemere residents had been neglected for too long.
“The lack of a high school in Gracemere puts extra burden on families and students who have to travel into Rockhampton every day for their education,” he said.
“The distance between Gracemere State School and Rockhampton State High School is over double the distance between either Lakes Creek Primary and North Rocky High, or Parkhurst Primary and Glenmore High.
“But a high school in Gracemere means more than just a shorter commute to new buildings for learning in. It can mean more local sports facilities and fields, an amphitheatre, a school hall for community meetings, as well as local social events like school dances and fetes.”
Mr Shepherd said while some Rockhampton schools had grown accustomed to the flow of Gracemere residents to their student base, that tap must be turned off at some point.
“Rockhampton boasts nine high schools with a population of around 70,000. Mount Morgan also has a high school, despite having an approximate population of just 2000,” he said.
“With Gracemere sitting at over 11,000 residents and with no high school despite decades of vocal support, it’s plain to see that the decision to continually snub Gracemere residents and students has become a game of political football; a game that Katter’s Australian Party is blowing the full-time whistle on. We must not play politics with our children’s futures or education.”
Unlike other parties that thrive on prolonged grievances, Mr Shepherd said the KAP was here to deliver solutions to regional Queensland.
Another political party aiming to win the balance of power in the upcoming state election to deliver a high school to Gracemere was the NQ First Party.
NQ First Leader and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan has reaffirmed his pledge to build a ‘stand alone’ high school at Gracemere, southwest of Rockhampton, if NQ First secures the balance of power at the State Election on October 31.
Mr Costigan said it was imperative that Rockhampton’s emerging satellite city be given its own secondary school to cater for a growing population.
“There were some media reports that indicated this new school we are championing would be bolted onto the Gracemere State School, one of three primary schools in Gracemere, however, this is incorrect and so I wish to reiterate that we plan to build a high school completely from scratch,” said Mr Costigan, a former Rockhampton resident.
“I also note the comments recently attributed to Labor’s Member for Rockhampton who happens to represent Gracemere but you wouldn’t know it after reading those comments reported in local media. In fact, it’s obvious that Barry O’Rourke is of the view that Gracemere does not warrant a secondary school at this point in time.
“Conversely, I have a completely different view, knowing we have three primary schools in Gracemere, plus those country schools surrounding Gracemere in communities such as Bouldercombe and Westwood. Therefore, I believe there is all the merit under the sun in building a high school at Gracemere now, instead of putting it off.”
Mr Costigan said talk of a high school at Gracemere dated back to the 1990s when he worked in Rockhampton.
“This issue was kicked around when I was a TV journalist in Rockhampton and whenever I have come back to Rockhampton, I have wondered why the State Government, whether it was Labor or LNP, had failed to deliver that secondary school,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the two major parties have treated the people of the Rockhampton electorate with utter contempt, with Labor knowing it’s a safe seat for them and the LNP never a hope of winning it. Hopefully, with some luck, NQ First can change that and with the balance of power through winning seats, build that high school once and for all at Gracemere.”
Speaking to the Morning Bulletin previously, the State Government questioned the feasibility of a high school in Gracemere saying schools in the region were not at capacity.
“The Department of Education conducts ongoing analysis of local demographics through the Queensland Schools Planning Reference Committee,” Education Minister Grace Grace said.
“At this stage the data shows that Gracemere does not have the student population to support a brand-new high school.
“And the Rockhampton State High School remains well below enrolment capacity.”