A school gets money for a swimming pool they don’t want and have no room for. Queensland again. Really you have to ask, how incredibly stupid are these current politicians. Its as bad as Gillard’s school funding debacle where schools ended up with 2 halls and 2 libraries, whether they wanted them or not. Liberals gave Labor a trashing over this so guess what the Liberals are up to. This a classic case of the incredibly massive failure of party politics. Its your money trying to buy votes.
Queensland school received controversial federal funding to build unwanted swimming pool
A Queensland community on the receiving end of controversial federal funding to build a new school swimming pool says it did not want the pool anyway.
- Money from the ‘Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream’ was sent to Mango Hill State Secondary College for a pool that will not be built
- The school is in the Petrie electorate, which Luke Howarth was at risk of losing in last year’s federal election
- Mr Howarth has claimed the Queensland State Government has made excuses to not build the pool
Coalition MP Luke Howarth announced the $2 million for a new pool at the Mango Hill State Secondary College in his electorate of Petrie just a week out from last year’s federal election.
The money came from a now-controversial Commonwealth sports program worth more money than the grants scheme that landed Bridget McKenzie in trouble.
But months later, the pool is not going ahead.
Parents said there were concerns about the cost and space required.
“My understanding was that the majority of people at the P&C (Parents and Citizens group), if not all of them, were against the pool,” said Karel Rees, who has two children at the school and is a member of its parents and citizens association.
“Even the principal wasn’t keen on the idea.”
Mango Hill State Secondary College is in a rapidly growing part of Brisbane and is still under construction to fit future students.
“At the moment there’s just grades seven and eight at the school, with just under 250 kids,” he said.
“So the buildings are there for that at the moment and each year it’s going to go up to include grade nine, then 10, ongoing.
“I’ve got another kid that’s due to go there in a few years’ time.
“I wanted to make sure there was enough room and there wasn’t overcrowding at the school or overcrowding in the classrooms because we decided to put a pool in and couldn’t build more classrooms.”
Labor critical at ‘attempt to sandbag’ Petrie
The federal funding came from the $150 million “Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream”.
That program was announced on the eve of the election and was pitched as a sports grants scheme to help local clubs make their facilities more female-friendly.
Guidelines for the program were promised, but never published. And the great majority of the funding went towards swimming pools in just 11 Coalition-held seats.
Labor has described it as a “slush fund” and “sports rorts on steroids”.
Local state Labor MP and Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the Mango Hill pool went to the heart of the problem with the whole grants scheme.
“It certainly looks like they’ve thrown him [Mr Howarth] some money at the last minute to try to change the result of the election,” Dr Miles said.
He said the state’s education department had found it would cost an additional $2.5 million to $3 million to complete the project.
Despite the scheme’s stated aim to encourage girls into sport, the federal grant was also not enough to cover changerooms.
And the pool and its surrounding areas would take up around 5,200 square metres, using up the school site’s only viable spot for future buildings.
“Obviously the community would appreciate a pool,” Dr Miles said.
“But the education department looked at projected population growth and the size of the site, and the population growth is projected to be very large.
“We have, at a number of our schools, had to build up because we haven’t had sufficient space to expand.”
He said the grant for the pool looked like pork barrelling to protect Mr Howarth in the electorate of Petrie. Mr Howarth held the seat with a margin of just 1.6 per cent heading into last year’s election.
“It was very clearly, I think, an attempt to sandbag Petrie and save Luke’s seat,” Dr Miles said.
“Ultimately I suppose it worked, I suppose it delivered what they wanted.
“But the whole process is pretty strange from the community’s perspective.”
Howarth disappointed in delay
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said this grants program delivered on election commitments, and pointed out that the Labor party had also announced plans for many community and sports projects in the lead-up to the May poll.
In a video posted on his Facebook page last month, Mr Howarth said the Queensland Government was just making excuses not to build the pool.
“So first of all there wasn’t enough room; then there wasn’t enough money,” he said.
“I fear that this is just partisan politics from the Palaszczuk Labor Government preventing the Federal Government providing that $2 million.
Mr Howarth said he was also looking at alternative sites for the pool in the community.
The ABC sought a response from Mr Howarth’s office but did not receive a reply.