‘Single biggest investment’ in teachers in Qld’s history
An extra 6100 teachers will be recruited in Queensland schools under a massive $2.2bn pledge from the Palaszczuk government to keep up with surging student enrolment numbers.
More than half of the new staff will replace existing teachers who leave the profession or retire over the next four years, boosting classrooms with 2190 new staff.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will make the commitment today - which is more than double the spend that of the LNP's for education - as she officially launches Labor's bid for a third term in government.
In a move that will further bloat the public service, the commitment - dubbed the Great Teachers, Great Future program - will also include 1100 new teacher aides being hired, with 339 estimated to be new positions after replacements.
While a further $20m will be spent on a paid internship program to lure aspiring teachers from other fields.
Ms Palaszczuk said the pledge was the "single biggest investment" in teachers in Queensland's history, saying it would not only create jobs, but also set students up for the future.
"State school enrolments are continuing to grow rapidly every year," she said.
"We are building the new schools, new classrooms and new facilities needed to keep pace with that growth.
"But we also need to ensure we have a steady pipeline of new teachers and teacher aides at the front of those new classrooms."
Labor says the commitment would be rolled out over the next term of government and be funded through the existing budget - not from the $4bn in borrowings that the party has previously foreshadowed.
It follows other pledges from Labor to hire 2025 new police personnel and 9475 frontline health staff over the next four years, in a move that will swell public service numbers.
The proposed education recruitment spend is significantly more than the one pledged by the LNP - with the Opposition promising to employ 3350 new teachers and 760 teacher aides at a cost of about $1bn.
Queensland's student enrolment numbers are forecast to grow by about 8000 every year, with the government launching a recruitment campaign earlier this year to boost the number of educators.
"It's not just an investment in teachers, it's an investment in our state's future," Ms Palaszczuk said of Labor's hiring commitment.
"Queensland schools are where our future leaders are moulded."
Labor and the LNP are tipped to hold official campaign launches today, but details about both events are being kept under wraps.
It comes ahead of 200 polling booths opening tomorrow for early voting, while a record 820,000 Queenslanders have applied for a postal ballot - equal to about one in four voters.
The applications are more than double the 360,000 made at the 2017 poll and up from the more than half a million at the March local government elections, when the pandemic was setting in.
The large volume could delay results on election night, with all postal votes given ten days from polling day to be received by the ECQ - but the vote must be made before 6pm on election day.
It is understood both parties are bracing for an uplift in early voting, with announcements being made earlier than normal during this election campaign.
During a visit to Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast yesterday, Ms Palaszczuk confirmed she would serve as Premier for the full term if she is re-elected on October 31.
But she stopped short of committing to running again in 2024, saying: "I'm not going to get ahead of myself there … that's up to the people of Queensland".
"One step at a time," Ms Palaszczuk said yesterday.
"I'm focused on election day. I can commit to serving the full term."
If Ms Palaszczuk's government is re-elected and she serves the full term, she will become the state's fourth longest serving premier - overtaking Peter Beattie.
She again insisted the election would be "tough", despite a Newspoll in The Weekend Australian showing Labor ahead of the LNP 52 per cent to 48 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
The poll result puts Ms Palaszczuk on track to win a third term in the state's top job, and mirrors a The Courier-Mail/YouGov poll from two weeks ago.
"There's a lot at stake here," she said.
"Queenslanders are going to have think long and hard. I'm asking Queenslanders for a majority so I can get on with the job of looking after you."
Asked yesterday if she thought she could win the election, LNP leader Deb Frecklington - visiting the marginal electorate Pumicestone - said that was up to voters. She brushed off the Newspoll as a "matter for commentators"and said she was going to keep working hard. "The LNP have a goal, we've got an ambition, we've got an ambition to get Queenslanders back into work and that's why I've set that achievable target of a 5 per cent unemployment rate," Ms Frecklington said.
"I'm loving (the election campaign) because I know the LNP have got the best policies and we've got the best people in place to get Queensland working again."