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Thursday, 14 June 2007
Page: 113

Mr BAKER (9:39 AM) —I rise this morning to support and comment on the Australian government’s initiatives for education. In a regional area such as Braddon, located on an island off the mainland, the need for quality education and knowledge is vital for the continuing sustainability and growth of the region. In Braddon we are very fortunate that we have secured very exciting and leading-edge education and knowledge transfer initiatives that not only build on the skills base of our region but also drive innovation and development within my electorate.

My region of Braddon has to its credit a quality university, the University of Tasmania, which is developing leading-edge studies in knowledge creation in the science of regional studies as well as providing a wide variety of faculties to local students in business studies, computer science, arts, law and education. I am a graduate with an education degree from the University of Tasmania, and I am currently studying commerce/law. These facilities are so important to the progress of our region.

As a specialist knowledge base for regional-specific learning, I am proud to say that in recent years we have secured the Rural Clinical School, which is meeting the challenge of providing an education to medical students specialising in rural medicine. Additionally, we are ensuring strong innovation and leading-edge knowledge transfer to our important agricultural industry through the agricultural research centre located within the Burnie campus. Thanks to the previous Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, the Hon. Gary Hardgrave, we have secured an Australian technical college for our skills based learning in the trades area of the future.

Mr Deputy Speaker Causley, as you would appreciate, education does not stop at university. I have mentioned the Australian technical college, but we also have a variety of high schools that continue to develop education applicable to the region. Our local schools have also benefited greatly from the Investing in Our Schools Program from which Tasmania, as a whole, has benefited by some $2.4 million for very worthwhile programs to improve the learning environment for our students.

As a high school teacher in a previous life, I am very aware of the importance education and knowledge have for both the individual and a regional area. For this reason, I have supported the pilot of a program with the name of PICSIE, which enables the cross-pollination of working universities in developing the science skills of students from an early age through to high school.

I commend the government’s budget initiatives in education, in particular the $5 billion Higher Education Endowment Fund, which will provide a base for the continued development of capital works and research within our university facilities. This program is complemented by the $1.7 billion Realising Our Potential program, which incorporates $638 million for VET funding and $843 million for our schools. With such exciting initiatives, complemented by the Australian government’s skills and apprenticeship learning programs, Braddon, as a regional area, stands strong to work within the global community.