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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 141

Mr HUNT (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (9:24 PM) —I present to the House this evening a plan for development of the Hastings and Somerville areas within my electorate of Flinders. Hastings has evolved as an old fishing town. It has become a steel town—a town which is still beginning to change and transform, with younger families coming in. The nature of the town is changing. Somerville is a young family town. Young people have come in from throughout the Melbourne district. It has changed from being an agricultural town.

There are four parts to the development of Hastings and Somerville and the surrounding areas of Tyabb and Baxter which need to be considered. The first part is the question of pride. Hastings produced John Coleman, the greatest full forward in Australian history. A group of people from the Western Port Chamber of Commerce, led by Peter McCulloch, have put together a plan for the creation of a John Coleman statue. It is about building pride, understanding and a sense of history in the town of Hastings. I commend those who are involved and urge all those who are able to contribute to the funding of the project, costing over $100,000, to do so.

The second part of the development is for marine education for Hastings and Somerville through the rubric of cooperation between the Dolphin Research Institute in Hastings and the Australian Maritime College. The Australian Maritime College will be setting up a national centre for marine and coastal conservation as part of the proposals at Point Nepean. The opportunity exists and the pledge has been made for cooperation between the Dolphin Research Institute in Hastings and the Australian Maritime College. I believe that practical marine education for maritime skills can exist and be developed in Hastings in cooperation at the secondary and tertiary levels. It is a great opportunity for the young people of Hastings—Hastings has no significant tertiary opportunities either at the TAFE or the degree level—and a step forward in their future, which is tied to the particular elements of Hastings interface and history of dealing with the sea.

The third element which is critical to the development of the region is the creation and fulfilment of the long-held commitment, made in 2002 by the state government, for a Somerville secondary college. The Commonwealth has already allocated $2 million. That money is there; it is clear; it is on the table; it is banked. It is ready to be used, yet there has been no significant progress. The school has been delayed; the children have been denied. Families which have expected their children to begin in 2005 have been told that their children will not be able to do so and that they should make alternative arrangements. Only in 2006 will families be afforded the privilege of allowing their children to attend a Somerville secondary college in their own town.

Even now that process is being delayed by an extraordinary backflip: the original design—an internationally leading, first-class design—is not good enough. Instead of having a modern 21st century design for a school, the state government are looking at a 1960s cinder block combination built up against residences; multi-stories rather than the interesting and innovative pod arrangement. It is a backflip; a disappointment. It not only delays the opportunity for education for children within Somerville but also denies succeeding generations a national standard school. There is a very simple message: stick with the plan, stick with the original proposal. Do not be dissuaded. I urge the state to do that. The Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, has said there is funding available at the federal level. If it is a funding question, I urge the state government to come back for additional funding.

The final proposal is for a Somerville police station. My commitment remains clear and absolute: to continue to fight for a Somerville police station and in the interim to encourage local residents and the local community to support the idea of a mobile police van for Somerville. It is a great town but it is in need of additional security. This is both a long-term plan for the security of Somerville and a short-term interim measure to help the police, who do a great job, and to ensure that they have the resources. Hastings and Somerville are fantastic areas. We have a clear plan, pride, education and security. I commend this plan to the House. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 9.30 p.m., the debate is interrupted.