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Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Page: 12393


Mr MITCHELL (McEwen) (21:35): I wish the Leader of the Nationals well in getting that sorted out, because I think that is appalling. Last week I had the pleasure of opening the much-awaited Alexandra Secondary College BER facility in my electorate of McEwen. This was an exciting project to see delivered because after years of neglect by the former Liberal government, this school has seen an investment of $2.12 million in a new state-of-the-art science centre. That was done by the Gillard Labor government.

This science and learning centre is one of only 500 across the nation and will deliver opportunities to kids that they may never have had under a Liberal government or without the highly successful Building the Education Revolution program. The community of Alexandra is appreciative of the fact that this government has invested in the school and their children's future by building this magnificent science wing. The school now has a building to be proud of and I can tell you, Deputy Speaker, that they are proud. In fact the school made the decision to name the science wing after a much-loved former science teacher, John Taylor.

John was exceptionally well-respected and this decision to name the science wing after him was very popular with the local community. I had the pleasure of opening the John Taylor science wing in the presence of John's family—his wife, his children, his parents and many of his close friends—who had travelled from afar to be there to pay their respects to John for having this building named after him. This is what the BER does. It delivers valuable 21st century facilities for our valued and skilled teachers to work in. This in turn gives every child every opportunity to learn, to grow and to reach their full potential. It is something this government is very proud to strive for. We know that allowing young people to learn and take their careers the way they want will strengthen and grow our nation's productivity, and the BER is giving young people opportunities at home and in their communities. This is something the opposition do not want. They do not want schools to have modern facilities and they do not want local communities to have investments which give confidence in the schools' futures.

Whilst attending the school science wing opening I also paid a visit to the construction of the much-hailed and much-wanted TTC. The trade training centre building in Alexandra is part of the $11.3 million Central Ranges Trade Training Centre that was announced earlier this year. This school is one of the 13 schools which formed a consortium to build facilities that will benefit many kids in rural areas. The public and private schools and the special school have all come together to invest in the future of our young people. These schools include Broadford Secondary College, Alexandra Secondary College, Assumption College, Seymour College, St Mary's College, Wallan Secondary College, Whittlesea Secondary College, Yea High School and Euroa Secondary College.

It is only Labor that is investing in education in McEwen. Under the Liberals the schools in my electorate never received the much-needed upgrades they have now. The Liberal Party opposed the BER and they oppose trade training centres. They might be okay to stand here and say it, but I doubt they would front communities like Alexandra or many other rural communities in my electorate and tell them that.

I would like to also acknowledge the superb work of the City of Darebin's Mayor Councillor Diana Asmar. Diana hosted the 2011 Mayoral Fundraiser Ball, with a theme this year of 'Unmask a Cure for Multiple Sclerosis'. Mayor Asmar has been a strong community advocate and leader in the City of Darebin over her three terms as mayor and has continued to drive innovation and progressive policies across the community. She said about the evening:

There is a lack of funding for MS research so I would like to undertake as much fundraising as possible to help bring researchers closer to finding a cure.

This will be an exciting event that will bring people together from across Darebin to raise funds for a significant cause.

And she was right. There was a raffle on the night, a silent auction and a live auction, including some expensive diamond jewellery. The entertainment for the night was provided by Masquerade and The Signoras. There were fundraising activities such as 'Sparkle in Sparkling', where those who attended could purchase a glass of champagne and go into the draw to win diamond earrings. The guest speaker for the night was the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, and he spoke very eloquently about the opportunities that have been identified as part of the NBN.

What made this evening so special was the insight Diana has into living and dealing with MS. Diana's own remarkable personal story of coming to terms with and forging ahead with MS was inspirational to say the least, and her speech of her own trials and tribulations of living with MS certainly captivated the 2,000 business and community leaders in attendance. It was also an honour to have Professor Claude Bernard there to share the evening. (Time expired)