Estimates Hearing: New Inner West Brisbane School, NAPLAN and Transition from Fossil Fuels

On Thursday 1 August, Michael posed questions to the Hon. Grace Grace, Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations, on a new inner west Brisbane school and NAPLAN, and to the Hon. Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills, on transitioning away from fossil fuels.

You can read the speech below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard), or watch it HERE.


New Inner West Brisbane School:

Mr BERKMAN: Minister, you know I have been pushing for a new school in the inner west for some time in light of overcrowding and population growth concerns. I have really appreciated your assistance so far, particularly our meeting back in budget week. Going back further to February, you mentioned in response to a question on notice that the department is conducting an options analysis to investigate primary school capacity in the inner west.

Ms GRACE: Yes.

Mr BERKMAN: Minister, can you share the results of that analysis and which options have been considered?

 Ms GRACE: Obviously, we are always looking to see whether we have to do a new school or  whether we continue to infill or add additional classrooms and those kinds of facilities at your schools. We had a wonderful meeting, I know, where we talked about this. I know that many of your schools have received funding. 

In relation to where that is at, my information is that it might be still ongoing. As soon as we have completed that analysis and that research for the schools in your area, we would be happy to share that with you, as was a commitment that I gave when we met. I think it is still going. As soon as it is completed, Mr Jeff Hunt will make sure, I am informed through the director-general, or however, and we will be in contact with you straightaway.


NAPLAN:

Mr BERKMAN: Minister, you know I have been pushing for a new school in the inner west for some time in light of overcrowding and population growth concerns. I have really appreciated your assistance so far, particularly our meeting back in budget week. Going back further to February, you mentioned in response to a question on notice that the department is conducting an options analysis to investigate primary school capacity in the inner west.

Ms GRACE: Yes.

Mr BERKMAN: Minister, can you share the results of that analysis and which options have been considered?

 Ms GRACE: Obviously, we are always looking to see whether we have to do a new school or  whether we continue to infill or add additional classrooms and those kinds of facilities at your schools. We had a wonderful meeting, I know, where we talked about this. I know that many of your schools have received funding. 

In relation to where that is at, my information is that it might be still ongoing. As soon as we have completed that analysis and that research for the schools in your area, we would be happy to share that with you, as was a commitment that I gave when we met. I think it is still going. As soon as it is completed, Mr Jeff Hunt will make sure, I am informed through the director-general, or however, and we will be in contact with you straightaway.


Transitioning from Fossil Fuels

Mr BERKMAN: I am aware of time, but I want to ask a couple of questions or clarifications about the Just Transition Group. In your answer in the prepared response earlier there were regular references to the energy industry, energy generators, the energy sector, but we heard virtually no reference to the resource sector—thermal coal miners or CSG. I think you said in one of your answers that it was your understanding that the reskilling of Queensland’s thermal coal miners was within the remit of the Just Transition Group; is that correct? 

Ms Curtis: As I mentioned, it is to maximise our future jobs and skills opportunities in the energy sector. That is correct, yes.

Mr BERKMAN: As distinct from the resource sector or resource export sector? 

Ms Curtis: The focus is on helping employees maximise their future jobs and skills opportunities within the energy sector.

Mr BERKMAN: You mentioned that the departmental staff in this area had consulted with 55-plus stakeholders. This may be a question to be taken on notice, but can you advise who those stakeholders are and whether any of those have a particular focus on transitioning workers affected by changing resource exports as opposed to the domestic energy sector?

Ms Curtis: I do not have that detail to hand. As I said, they have engaged with 55 stakeholders, including business and industry groups, workers and their representatives, energy generators and academics. I certainly know there is a broad range of stakeholders they have been engaging with during that time.

Mr BERKMAN: Could you take on notice who those stakeholders are?

Ms FENTIMAN: I am happy to take that on notice.

Mr BERKMAN: Thank you, Minister. It is much appreciated. Minister, you are well aware that I and many others across Queensland have been calling urgently for a transition plan like this to support workers and communities in the move away from not only coal-fired power generation but also fossil fuel exports. As a question of policy, would you agree that this transition planning is equally or perhaps even more important for the fossil fuel export sector as opposed to energy generators, given the number of people employed in thermal coal mining and CSG in regional Queensland and their exposure to international markets?

Ms FENTIMAN: I thank the member for the question. Clearly, this group was set up because of the government’s commitment to renewable energy and our renewable energy target. Modelling from the 2016 final report of the Queensland Renewable Energy Expert Panel predicted that a 50 per cent renewable energy target would lead to a net increase in the employment of Queenslanders of around 6,400 full-time-equivalent positions between 2020 and 2030. As the jobs and training department, obviously we have a role to play working with Jobs Queensland and other skills advice bodies the skills and training that the thousands of new workers in these new renewable energy sectors will need. That is predominantly the work, as the director-general has said, of our Just Transition Group. Obviously, they will work with a range of stakeholders who have an interest in members of the energy sector. As I said, we are working very closely with Jobs Queensland on predicted future jobs growth in the energy sector and how we can best support Queenslanders to take the opportunities to fill those jobs of the future.

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