What’s making our schoolkids hot and bothered
SCHOOLCHILDREN in far north Queensland have penned desperate letters complaining of unventilated buses and 50C temperatures that leave them dizzy and thirsty.
Katter's Australian Party Member for Hill Shane Knuth yesterday tabled the shocking letters in Parliament, calling the issue a health and safety risk.
"Could you please help us get airconditioning on our school bus. It is so hot and after a while I feel dizzy and so thirsty," one student from Innisfail State College wrote.
The sweaty commute between Innisfail and Kurrimine Beach, is serviced by a number of local bus companies, including Trans North.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey acknowledged heat could be a concern for students travelling long distances by bus.
However he said there was no mandatory requirement for school buses to be airconditioned, and it was therefore a commercial business decision.
"Department Transport and Main Roads provides funding to eligible school bus operators to assist with the purchase of new buses through the School Bus Upgrade Scheme," he said.
"I am pleased to update the member (Knuth) that on 25 February this year Trans North Pty Ltd has advised that it will apply for school bus funding as each of its non-air-conditioned vehicles reach their qualifying age for replacement funding under the scheme."
Trans North did not comment yesterday.
Mr Knuth said he had received a number of letters that dated back 12 months.
"One of the things is, we continue to have massive heatwaves, consecutively," he said.
"We can't have children in a bus waiting up to 1.5 hours.
"This is a serious health and safety risk."
The MP said the government should ensure contracted buses had airconditioning.
In one letter, written by a year 12 student at Innisfail State College, the student said if they were "lucky", sometimes they could find a seat that wasn't "sweat ridden by total strangers".
One parent wrote her daughter described her bus as an oven.
"They (children) complain of feeling sick all the time. Red faces and sweat all over when they get off," they wrote.
"Why don't we have aircon buses in north Queensland? It doesn't make sense," one 13-year-old wrote.
Another 12-year-old wrote about younger students coming up to them crying, claiming they had headaches.
Kurrimine Beach mother Nadine Dineen, who has two teenagers at Innisfail State College, said the airflow in the buses was restricted.
"I know of children that have gone home with heat stroke as a result of being on the bus for that long," she said.
"It is a major concern with a lot of parents in the area.
"As our eldest son pointed out, people are fined for leaving animals in cars and yet these kids are made to sit on that bus."