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Thursday, 18 September 2008
Page: 7984

Mr IRONS (9:36 AM) —Last Friday I had the pleasure of presenting an Australian flag to the Manning Primary School at their weekly assembly in my electorate of Swan. I also took an Aboriginal flag to present to the school and was fortunate to run into Troy Cook. Troy is the captain of the Perth Football Club in the Western Australian Football League and also played with the Dockers and the Sydney Swans in the AFL. Troy has been an inspirational Indigenous Australian Rules football player and a great role model and mentor for other Indigenous boys in Western Australia. I am proud to serve on the board of the Perth Football Club as the director for junior development, and the club is proud to have a young man like Troy as its captain.

I took the opportunity to ask Troy if he could present the Aboriginal flag to the school captains, James Fiori and Caelie Jones. Troy did that for me, but he was also there to pick up a cheque for the David Wirrpanda Foundation as their representative. The David Wirrpanda Foundation was founded out of a mutual desire to assist and develop young people through education, promoting healthy lifestyles and building self-esteem. It was fantastic that the school had raised money for the foundation.

The assembly was a fitting tribute to Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech on the 45th anniversary of its delivery. I was extremely impressed to hear some of the students’ own versions of this famous speech. The whole presentation was very professional, and the children of Manning Primary should be very proud of their effort. The dreams they spoke about were family- and community-minded, with a touch of global concern for peace in our world.

Manning Primary School is located in the city of South Perth in an area considered to be inner metropolitan and established residential. There are 237 preprimary to year 7 children enrolled in 2008. Approximately 10 per cent are of Aboriginal heritage, while 16 per cent are from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds. The ethnic backgrounds of the students include Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Cambodian, Indian, Sri Lankan, African, Korean, Indonesian, Serbian, Colombian, Russian and Arabian. The school was founded in 1936 and successive principals have overseen ambitious building projects, leaving some impressive architecture on the 6.4-hectare site, the largest school site in WA.

Unfortunately, the good work of the Manning Primary School under the expert guidance of Principal Robert Searle is under threat. Sadly for a school of such stature, the school’s facilities have been allowed to deteriorate through insufficient state government funding. The Rudd government should be supporting schools and our children by providing the funding they desperately need. The Investing in Our Schools Program of the Howard government was scrapped, a program which was used to direct much needed funds to schools, which is what they really need.

With the new Barnett Liberal government in Western Australia, I am sure we will see funds for school maintenance released to many schools in WA instead of being locked up, as they were by the Carpenter government, for election slush funding. The new Labor opposition leader, Mr Eric Ripper, should be ashamed of his time as the Treasurer who presided over such a deterioration in schools and state assets.

I thoroughly enjoyed the warm hospitality of the staff and children at Manning Primary School. I was also pleased to hear that Jay Gillich had won a golf scholarship to Como Secondary College for next year. (Time expired)