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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3601

Mr RUDD (Griffith) (11:22): I rise today to inform the parliament of the Liberal National Party's plans to privatise a number of school playing fields on Brisbane's south side. Unilaterally, the Liberal National Party government has announced that playing fields at Balmoral State High School and Whites Hill College will be sold off. There was not a word of consultation with local P&Cs, who in previous decades have physically helped build these playing fields from nothing. There was not a word of consultation with the local community, whose local cricket teams and football teams use these fields regularly. There was not a word of consultation with the other local primary schools across Brisbane's south side, who also use these playing fields for their kids because in the inner southern suburbs there simply are not enough playing fields for the thousands of kids who use them and need to use them.

Not only has there been no consultation but there is also no mandate from the people to flog off these playing fields at all. At no time prior to the last election did the Liberal National Party tell Brisbane south-side residents that they planned to privatise school playing fields. Not only is there no mandate, not only is there no consultation; there is no logic to this decision either. We all know when school populations go up and down. Local primary schools had small populations in my electorate 15 years ago. Now they are all bursting at the seams, without adequate playing fields.

That is logical problem No. 1: school populations change. No. 2 is: once they are flogged off, no future government will ever be able to buy new playing fields in these inner-city suburbs because the real estate, nearly eight hectares in all, is just too expensive. Once they are gone, they are gone. No. 3 is: it is utter madness to be flogging off scarce green space on Brisbane's south side, given community demand and the rising local populations occurring through urban consolidation. These fields are part of the lungs of our city of Brisbane. No. 4 is: what about child obesity? All governments go on and on and on about child obesity, encouraging kids to play sports. We are doing that on the one hand and flogging off their playing fields on the other, which will encourage them to retreat to their dens and play on the computer instead. I do not think that is smart. In fact, I think it is downright dumb. This decision lacks logic on all four counts.

So far, more than 2,000 people have expressed their opposition to this heartless decision by signing my petition calling on the Liberal National Party government to reverse this short-sighted approach. Take Bruce, one of the petitioners, for example, who said: 'I teach in a local Catholic school, and on a number of occasions we have had the pleasure of using the Balmoral High School oval for our sports days. It is a great community asset used by many outside the school. For this reason, I believe it needs to be protected.' So a Brisbane south-side community is up in arms about this.

What has been the response from the Liberal National Party? One local P&C member wrote to the Liberal National Party member for Greenslopes. What was his response? 'Sorry, you have too much land.' That was it. What about the newly elected Liberal-National Party member for Bulimba? You would think he would be sympathetic. Don't bet on it! Mr Dillaway has told the Balmoral P&C he fully supports the sale but, on top of that, tried to convince the P&C that this decision had nothing to do with the government, it was an independent decision of the bureaucracy. Pigs might fly!

I say this to the Liberal National Party: local people are not easily fooled at all. This has been a running insult to our local community. Anyone with half a brain knows that when school playing fields are sold off the sale must get the tick-off of the minister concerned. In fact, the Courier-Mail recently reported that the Liberal National Party member is one of many in the LNP party room who are staunch advocates of asset sales and think that the LNP government should go harder on asset sales. In fact, this local member does not think the LNP government has gone far enough. The Liberal National Party are treating Brisbane's south side with absolute contempt. They seem to think it is their land, not the community's land. Then there is the Liberal National Party candidate Mr Glasson. What is his position? The sounds of silence. Nothing.

I love my local community. I have lived there for 25 years. I love its schools; I know each and every one of them—all 63 of them—and the great work they do with our local kids. I am angered beyond description by this appallingly short-sighted decision by the Liberal National Party, state and federal, deeply wedded to their ideological agenda of privatising anything they can. I have news for the Liberal National Party; together with the local community we will fight these decisions with one objective: to get them overturned to keep these playing fields for future generations.