Kevin Bates
QTU President

President’s comment 12 August 2013

Will uncertainty persist for threatened schools until 8 Sept?

According to news reports, Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek is delaying making decisions on the fate of eight state schools slated for closure – despite having cut short the public consultation period to allegedly give school communities “certainty”.

The Minister has demonstrated poor timing throughout the school closure issue. School communities had to find out via media reports that their schools were facing closure; the Minister stated in Parliament that he would commit to a six-month consultation period, yet allowed only three months for public submissions to the hired consultants; and then he added insult to that injury by bringing forward the submission deadline by two weeks, with schools only discovering that fact on the afternoon of 21 June, just as school holidays began and so depriving school communities of two weeks’ access to their usual communication channels.

Now it seems it has all just become too hard for the Minister, and schools are left with no notion of when any decisions will be known.

It may be cynical, but is more likely sensible, to realise that what has changed is the announcement of a federal election date. Presumably the federal Coalition will not welcome announcements by the state LNP of school closures (hard fought against by local communities) during an election campaign. That fact has not been missed by many of the highly committed individuals who have drawn deeply on their own resources, time and money to mount outstanding campaigns to save their schools.

With all the Minister’s resources, he now apparently cannot make a decision after receiving the consultants’ reports. That makes it even more important for him to publicly release those reports before or at a time of announcing any decisions; that is open and accountable governance, and the public have a right to see what is informing the Minister’s belated decisions.

Kevin Bates