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Thursday, 14 February 2008
Page: 431


Mr SIDEBOTTOM (9:35 AM) —Madam Deputy Speaker, congratulations on your election to your position. In my electorate of Braddon, on the beautiful north-west coast of Tasmania, schools just gone back, and that causes me to reflect on just how important education is. One of the great things that have occurred during the last 18 months is that education has been put back on the political map, and many people in education and in the community have been excited by Labor’s plans for the future and for the present in education.

Just recently, I went to a night of excellence at a senior secondary college, Hellyer College in Burnie, another at The Don College in Devonport and also one at the Australian technical college which is part of the Northern Tasmania College, which has a campus in Burnie. I was very pleased to acknowledge the tremendous work of the teachers involved in all these colleges and the excellence of the students who were recognised on those evenings. One thing those evenings certainly made clear is that Australia’s future is in good hands, particularly given the quality and the calibre of the students who were being recognised on those nights.

I am really excited about some of the key Labor initiatives that are going to be implemented during this term of government—particularly the trades in schools announcement of $2.5 billion to assist and enhance skills development in our schools. I know that a number of my schools are already highly excited about the prospect of applying for that. I am also very pleased with the response to the announcement of technology funding of $1 billion, particularly for computers in schools. I notice with interest that the minister for education and the Prime Minister have announced that they will be sending out letters of audit for schools to apply for this funding.

Finally, I am really excited about the idea of developing a national curriculum to apply some national consistency and standards throughout Australia, particularly in English and history, mathematics and the sciences. If we are able to get these competencies and characteristics right, across the nation, and also allow for greater portability of qualifications and standards between the states, for all our students, then that will be good news. I would like to wish all our teachers and students well, particularly in my electorate of Braddon, for this coming year, and I look forward to assisting in rolling out a number of these highly exciting initiatives for education in our community.