Queensland Government documents have revealed that dozens of state schools are riddled with asbestos.Fifty-five schools are named in the new register, which Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones says will help improve the safety of students and school staff.
The Government announced a large funding commitment to help reduce the potentially massive toll that asbestos can take.
“We are delivering a record $780 million over four years on school maintenance and proactively dealing with asbestos in schools,” she said.
“Schools will always take immediate action to deal with any asbestos containing material on school grounds.”
An Education Department spokesperson said work had already started.
“The Department has adopted and implemented strategies for the identification and progressive removal of asbestos containing material,” he told reporters.
“Asbestos-containing material that is assessed as being in poor condition, or is regarded as high risk, is immediately made safe and scheduled for removal.
“Typically most building and maintenance works in schools are scheduled during holiday periods to minimise the disruption to teaching and learning.”
But Shadow Education Minister Tracy Davis says the Palaszczuk Government has actually reduced the budget for tackling the lethal substance.
“Safety of students should be paramount, parents need to be assured that the schedule of work for the removal of asbestos won’t be impacted by the government’s multi-million dollar cuts to the school maintenance budget,” she told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“This state government budget is over four years, while ours was over three.
“It’s disappointing that maintenance funding has been cut by Labor by up to $20-25m a year compared to the year on year spending by the previous LNP Government.”