I love being a mother. Watching my boys grow into young men has been the great joy of my life.
Like every parent, I’ve had my share of wondering if I’ve done my best, given them what they need and prepared them for the world.
Being in the busy world of politics has given me cause to ask myself more than once if I was doing the right thing by them.
What’s made me answer yes to that question has been knowing that through my job I am working to make Queensland a better place for them to live, and a better place for their children to grow up.
And I have always believed that education is the key.
In education lies a lifetime of opportunity for our kids and our State. It delivers social mobility, employment, higher wages, and increased productivity. Education also brings the joy of reading, the thrill of learning new ideas and can bring our kids real happiness – providing them with the chance to dream big about their future and make it happen.
In Queensland we are in a very unique situation. We are on the cusp of a second mining boom. This is going to result in literally billions of dollars in royalties for Queenslanders.
The wealth in the ground in Queensland belongs to all Queenslanders, which is why I’ve announced an idea to put 50% of our gas royalties into an Education Trust Fund for Queensland babies born from July next year.
Over the next decade alone, more than $1.8 billion in LNG royalties will be put into the Trust.
Right now we are asking Queenslanders to share their ideas with us about how they think this money is best spent towards educating their children.
We are asking for community feedback on two options.
The first proposal would see the government establish individual trust accounts for every newborn, from July 2012 onwards, with an initial deposit of $500 at birth and a further contribution of around $3200 at Prep.
These individual trust accounts could only be accessed when a child turns 18 to fund post-school education or training – by which time they could be worth almost $10,000 each.
This would give tomorrow’s Queenslanders a massive head start for their future training and education – reducing HECS debts, paying TAFE fees and funding equipment and tools for apprenticeships.
The second proposal would see the Queensland Education Trust set aside funds into one pool, to support targeted education and training initiatives not available anywhere else in Australia. This would give our kids a big educational advantage and could pay for things like TAFE and university scholarships for rural and regional students, international student exchange programs and cutting edge programs in maths, science and technology or languages.
This has never been done in Australia before. It’s what sharing the benefits of the mining boom really means.
If we want our children to do well in the very different world of 2030 or 2050 we have to start making the changes now.
We have had a strong education story in Queensland over the last 10 years with new kindies, our prep year and school-based apprenticeships.
And with this plan for a Queensland Education Trust for every child I want to take our education reform agenda to the next level.
If you live in Queensland you know we have come a very long way in recent years. You also know we have a very bright future.
I urge you to use this opportunity to give us your ideas about how you would like to see this Education Trust Fund benefit your children.
We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the enduring legacy of Queensland’s next boom a stronger, fairer, smarter state where we are better educated and more skilled than ever before – for our children and for theirs – so please tell me what you think.
Anna Bligh is the Premier of Queensland. She was the first elected female Premier in Australia.
If you are a Queenslander and would like to provide feedback on this proposal during the consultation period, go here.
Here is a video: