Greens’ $374m plan to win hunger games



The Queensland Greens are planning to end the age-old axiom that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

The controversial minor party, which is increasingly confident of securing the balance of power on October 31, wants to roll out a free breakfast and lunch program to Queensland's 570,000 state school students.

Greens Leader Michael Berkman told The Courier-Mail that it would cost $374 million-a-year to ensure Queensland kids did not go hungry while they were trying to learn.

"Kids can't learn if they don't eat and right now 170,000 Queensland kids go to school every day without eating breakfast, while hundreds of thousands more don't get enough to keep them full during the day," he said.

"The Greens will make sure every state school student eats a healthy breakfast and lunch to save parents money, improve attendance, concentration and grades, and ensure every Queensland kid gets the best chance in life regardless of their circumstances."

The ambitious free school breakfast and lunch scheme, which is common in other countries, would receive an additional $1.2 billion grant so schools could invest in kitchens and eating areas.

Funding would come from the party's proposed massive hike in mining royalties which the Greens claim would raise a staggering $55 billion over the next four years.


Greens MP Michael Berkman, Parliament House, Brisbane. Photographer: Liam Kidston
Greens MP Michael Berkman, Parliament House, Brisbane. Photographer: Liam Kidston


The policy is set to be a central plank of the Greens' negotiations with Labor and the LNP if Queenslanders deliver a hung parliament on October 31.

Polling conducted for The Courier-Mail last week revealed support for the Greens had surged in Brisbane, strengthening Mr Berkman's hold on his inner-city seat and increase the party's prospects in South Brisbane and McConnel.

Mr Berkman said Victoria and NSW run free breakfast programs for select schools while research showed Queensland had the highest rate of child policies.

He said it was wrong that the major parties were offering mining giants a tax freeze while school kids went hungry.

"We've heard a few multinational mining corporations complain about our proposal to increase royalties," Mr Berkman said. "Well here's the deal - we'll stop pushing to raise royalties when child poverty hits zero."

Originally published as Greens' $374m plan to win hunger games