Perrett: State Government ignoring drought-affected kids
STUDENTS from drought affected regions will still get their beach holiday, but with no thanks to the State Government.
Member for Gympie Tony Perrett said repeated requests to the Minister for Transport, Mark Bailey, to look at helping with travel costs to the Cooloola Coast have been ignored.
"This holiday is a great way to help out those kids from remote and western regions who are doing it so tough during the drought,” Mr Perrett said.
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"It also builds lasting connections with the city and the bush which is why the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, who represents some of these drought affected regions attended with me the Bush to Beach fundraiser at Rainbow Beach six weeks ago.
"Gympie Citizen of the Year, Tony Stewart, on behalf of the Rainbow Beach Drought Runners and the Tin Can Bay Lions Club was seeking relief in the travel costs to allow the students to enjoy a bush to beach experience.
"I was happy to get on board when they asked me to contact the Minister on their behalf.”
Mr Perrett said his repeated attempts at communication with the Minister had gone without a response.
"I wrote at the beginning of August, have made numerous calls to his office, and even spoke to him in Parliament about the issue.
"What do you have to do to get an answer? The Minister hasn't even bothered to reply.
"They weren't asking for the world ... all they were asking for was assistance in either a travel subsidy or rebate for the travel costs.
"Last year's travel costs were pretty hefty for a trip which is supported by the generosity and fundraising of locals.
"Compounding last year's bill was that Queensland Rail charged the students' travel at a holiday rate even though their departure was outside the school holiday period.
"Who would not want to help with giving these 27 children aged from five to 12 a holiday? Some of them are under 10 years and have never seen the beach, let alone had a holiday, with many of their families in a desperate situation after struggling with years of drought.”
Mr Perrett said plans for an upcoming trip had been compromised as a result.
"Organisers couldn't wait any longer and have booked bus and train travel for the children and eight teachers who will be coming from Windorah, Jundah, Isisfod and Stonehenge in mid-September,” he said
"The children from Jundah were looking forward to travelling on a train for the first time - but even that was cancelled so they will have to use the bus.
"They are holding out hope that the train travel on the return leg won't also be cancelled.
"Some of the children will clock up more than 1,300 kilometres each way for this holiday.
"The travel bill is pretty big and assistance could have freed up donated funds to make sure the children can enjoy as many sights and activities that many of us take for granted.”