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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1488

Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (09:39): I am very pleased to be able to update the House on matters occurring in my electorate, particularly in the area of education. During November and December, I had the opportunity—as many members here regularly do—to visit many of my schools to talk to students about issues to do with leadership and community service. At the same time, it gave me a good opportunity to get feedback from those school communities, teachers and students about the way in which their schools are running and the way in which our education system is going. The feedback was great. I know that many schools in my electorate have benefited from this government's considerable investment in education during its term—investment in new facilities and infrastructure in particular. It is all appreciated.

One of the schools recently celebrated the opening of its BER project, Emerald Primary School. That was a great occasion. I was pleased to be there to open the new library and classrooms and to see the results of the other refurbishments, which were supported by an investment of around $3 million made by this government. I was particularly pleased to learn that part of the new building is dedicated to enabling students to learn more about the environment and sustainability. Emerald, as its name might suggest, is part of the leafier area of my electorate. I know that sustainability is something that interests a great many school students.

On a less happy note, I should report to the House that this government's position is certainly very different from that of the opposition. When we formed government we made a significant investment in education and honoured the commitments that we made in the lead-up to coming to office. The opposition has indicated that it would slash some $2.8 billion from school education among other things. While the Liberals in opposition very regularly talk about education and their commitment to it and all of the things that they would bring to it if they came to office, it really pays to look at what they in fact do when they take up the reins of government. We can see that in relation to Emerald Primary School.

The Victorian Labor government prior to the last election committed to $6 million for new classrooms, art, music, physical education and administration areas. That commitment was announced in October 2010 and was apparently matched by the Victorian Liberals. But when you have a look at the budget papers from the Victorian government, sadly, it is not there—unsurprisingly for those of us who have been following with interest the actions of the Baillieu Liberal government.

This government has funded much-needed educational infrastructure at schools such as Emerald, and that is certainly appreciated. We stumped up that funding. We voted for it. It was voted against by those opposite in this place and we know exactly what has happened in Victoria when the Liberals came to power. They have made it very clear that they have no commitment to education.