A call was made in the Queensland Parliament yesterday for Bundaberg state schools to receive government funds for air-conditioning.
Bundaberg MP David Batt told Parliament the lack of air-conditioning in state school classrooms was one of the most common complaints he hears from constituents.
“Countless teachers, parents, principals, school staff, grandparents
and students have asked me when air-conditioning will become a reality in their classrooms,” he said.
“Air conditioning is not only something our state schools want; it is something our state schools need in order to provide our young people and teaching staff with the comfortable learning environment they undeniably deserve.”
Mr Batt said the Queensland Teachers' Union and NSW Labor Opposition shared the State Opposition's view that all schools should have air-conditioning, but the Government continued to resist.
He said state schools south of Gladstone did not obtain funding to install air-conditioning in their classrooms.
“My electorate of Bundaberg is just a two-hour drive from the cut-off line,” he said.
“We just miss out, yet we experience the same weather conditions as Gladstone and communities further to the north. For much of the year we endure extreme hot and humid conditions.
“I am advised by teachers and principals that there are classrooms in Bundaberg that cannot be used in summer as they are too unbearably hot.
“I have also heard from teachers in Bundy that they are being forced to hold their classes outside in the shade of a building or a tree purely because it is cooler outside than in their classroom.
“That is not fair on the students or the teachers.”
Parliament was debating a motion that called for all schools to be air-conditioned, but the Government used its numbers to instead ask how the Opposition would pay for it.
Mr Batt said Bundaberg P&Cs were desperate to raise funds for air-conditioning.
“Our P&C members should not be responsible for raising the funds to install air-conditioning when those located just a few hours north have it paid for,” he said.
“Under this government our kids are left struggling, suffering and sweltering in their classrooms.”
Education Minister, Grace Grace, told Parliament the Opposition had no plan to fund its expensive proposal.
‘Cooler schools' have air-conditioners
“The truth of the matter is that they have no idea,” she said.
“When they were in government they could not do it, but all of a sudden they are going to magically find $2-plus billion, plus the maintenance.”
Ms Grace said the Government had invested $23 million this year, $5 million on maintenance.
“Our Cooler Schools Zone is all done. There are air conditioners,” she said.
“We maintain them and we replace them. We put money into all of those.
“We work with P&Cs to air-condition classrooms. We have a solar panel program that will help with electricity costs.”
Government MP for Keppel, Brittany Lauga, said more than 3500 classrooms in almost 400 state schools in the hottest and most humid parts of the state — the Cooler Schools zone — already had air-conditioning installed.
“Outside the Cooler Schools zone, schools make decisions in consultation with their community and many have installed air-conditioning in classrooms using minor works allocations and P&C funding.”