Queensland

Treasurer to annouce key Cairns schools project

Treasurer Curtis Pitt will on Friday announce work will finally begin on one of Labor's flagship election policies - the $25 million Cairns Special School – for hundreds of disabled children.

It has been heavily backed by Cairns MP Rob Pyne, himself a quadriplegic, as a "must" special needs project for Cairns.

There are an estimated 800 to 1000 special needs children and young adults in Cairns who education planners anticipate could use the facility to be built at Woree in Cairns' south.

The school was one of a number of projects that directors-general identified last week as part of the Accelerated Works Package for north Queensland, but has been on the government books since 2012.

Mr Pyne has over the past week raised serious problems with communication between MPs and state cabinet and spoke with Premier Palaszczuk on Wednesday night.

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The project has been supported by both major political parties since 2012 and Ms Palaszczuk in September 2015 announced plans for the school.

She said then that "construction would start at the end of this year, early next year."

In 2014 the school planned for 125 students every year, "alleviating pressure" on the 20 local schools providing special education programs.

The LNP in office accused the previous Labor government of making the promise without doing the planning and allocated $15 million for the school.

A site was chosen next to Woree State High School in May 2015 and in September 2015 Ms Palaszczuk said the project would start soon.

The state government allocated $25 million over two years in its first budget this year for the school, which will cater for between 100 and 120 special needs students.

"The tender will be released in November with construction at the end of this year or early next year and that means local jobs here in Cairns," Premier Palaszczuk told the Cairns Post in September 2015.

However construction has not yet started.

Meanwhile Education Minister Kate Jones has promised Mr Pyne that money for an all-weather assembly area at Cairns State High School would be "considered" in the 2016-17 Budget.

Mr Pyne told Fairfax Media on Wednesday that he was having serious problems getting any information on the request.

"I've made a commitment to Rob, and to the people of Cairns, that this project will be considered in the 2016-17 budget," Ms Jones said.

"And I reassured Rob of that again last night."

Mr Pyne on Wednesday said he was also trying to learn about state government funding – as part of a funding package from three levels of government – for the Manoora Community Centre.

Twelve months Queensland government funding was allocated early in 2015, but that is tipped to run out in March.

Mr Pyne's spokeswoman on Thursday said the advice from Ms Jones on Cairns State High School was appreciated.

"That's good news, good news," she said.

Mr Pyne is evaluating the sources of funding from three levels of government; Cairns Regional Council, the Queensland government and the federal government's department of housing to keep the Manoora Community Centre.

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