Wednesday 8 February 2017

Labor Bus Minister Fails Noosa

The recent resignation of Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe is a sigh of relief for State Member for Noosa Glen Elmes who has exhausted all reasonable attempts to get help for families in the Noosa Electorate who have been unfairly marginalised at best, and discriminated against at worst.

Many families have found themselves caught between a rock and hard place; namely two government departments – Transport and Education. Transport, the administrators of the Bus Transport Assistance Scheme (BTAS); and Education; the responsible agency for determining which families live in which school catchment.

“When Queensland’s Grade 7 moved from primary to high school, Noosa District High School were forced, due to overcrowding at the Cooroy campus, to relocate both grade 7 and 8 to the Pomona campus.  This made families who would have attended the Cooroy campus ineligible for the BTAS as Pomona is further away. The Transport Department informs these families that to qualify for BTAS, their closest high school is Sunshine Beach, however the Education Department is telling them that they are not in the catchment and are therefore not able to enrol.  The students now face a lengthy return trip, at their own cost of up to $400 per annum for each child.  The system has failed these families.

“I wrote to the previous Minister for Transport six times and spoke with him personally in the Parliament about this issue. I even reached out to his Electorate Office staff in writing and by phone, pleading that this bureaucratic nonsense be rectified.

“Despite Minister Hinchliffe’s verbal acknowledgement that the plight for these families forced to travel to the Pomona campus was real, and his verbal assurance that a remedy was possible, Noosa families have been left out in the cold in a costly and unaffordable void.

“The problem is that two Labor Ministers and their Departments are unable to co-ordinate and communicate with each other. It is not the students and their families fault that one bureaucrat has drawn a line on a map and another can’t see fit to grant deserving families transport assistance, yet it is the families paying the price for incompetence.

“If, and it is a big if, Sunshine Beach High, which I understand is at capacity anyway, were forced by the Education Department to accept these displaced students, the families would just have to fork out for new uniforms and relocate their children in two years time back to Noosa District State High at Cooroy to commence Grade 9.