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Question Time: New Toowong greenspace with the new school

During Question time on Wednesday 23 February 2022, I asked the Education Minister whether she would ensure Brisbane City Council is adequately compensated to deliver equivalent green space in Toowong to replace the former Toowong Bowlo (to be used for the new school). 

You can read the full question and her answer below, or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: My question today is to the Minister for Education. The government’s decision to locate the new inner west primary school at the former Toowong Bowls Club site leaves Toowong,
Taringa and St Lucia residents in need of a new community facility and green space. Are the minister and the department working with council to ensure it is adequately compensated to deliver equivalent
green space for local residents?

Ms GRACE: I thank the member for the question. It is actually a very good question. We were very pleased to announce with the Premier recently that the Toowong Bowls Club will be the site of Queensland’s first vertical primary school, which will be state-of-the-art designed to deliver for 900 students when stages 1 and 2 have been built. In response to the member’s question, it is one of 11 new schools that we are delivering over the next three years, an investment, once again, of over a billion dollars.

The new school is needed in the growing inner western suburbs to ease the enrolment pressures, and I am happy to say we have been working very well with the member in relation to that. There has been extensive community consultation. I am pleased to say we are also consulting with the Brisbane City Council; it is their site. There was a meeting held as recently as 20 January between DoE and officers of the Brisbane City Council City Planning and Economic Development team, and my DG recently wrote to the acting CEO. The outcomes of that were listed on 7 February as well as the plan going forward so we can negotiate with them not only about the site but also any extra green space that they might have. I have to admit I am a little curious about a motion that was moved in council on 15 February which calls on the Queensland government to first purchase and then gift to council at no cost new land to offset the land required for the new school. The member and I have worked pretty closely together. If we can find that block of land in that area I think I would buy it and put a school on it. I do not know whether I would necessarily gift it back to the council at no cost, which is curious when we have had a meeting discussing the issue going forward.

I will make a couple of clear statements for the assistance of the local member. When acquiring land, the department must adhere to the Government Land Transaction Policy under the Acquisition of Land Act. We will ensure that the council is adequately compensated for any site acquisition. We have allocated an increased budget for this site of $90 million, up from $65 million, so we can deliver the state-of-the-art school and the land necessary on which to build the school, and council will be compensated. The land transaction policy ensures openness and transparency in the government approach that agencies take in acquiring land. Acquisitions must be in the public interest and ensure best value for Queensland. We will continue to negotiate the acquisition of the former site. We will look into whether there is another site, and I have had the discussion with the member for Maiwar in relation to the possibility of the Department of Education site. I hope we can have constructive negotiations
going forward to deliver the school. 

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