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Monday, 23 May 2011
Page: 4162

Mr MITCHELL (McEwen) (10:36): I am delighted to speak this morning about some great events that I have recently attended. Last week, I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at the Sunbury University of the Third Age. It was great to be with such an engaged group of locals who were interested in discussing both national and local issues. Many of the questions related to the issues of the day including some of the misinformation deliberately peddled by the opposition. It was a terrific opportunity to address the distortion of truth and take time to actually discuss concerns and inform people of what I would like to achieve for our future. We discussed issues of local concern such as the railway line electrification, the future of the VU site for education and how it could be used to skill-up locals and offer better choices of education. As well, we discussed the redistribution of federal electorates. U3A, as we know, is a place where our seniors can come together and it enables members to share many educational, creative and leisure activities. The seniors of our community have a wealth of knowledge and skills which should be passed on to the next generation. This opportunity to chat with them is one that I was very pleased to take. The U3A network in Victoria is an incorporated association with some 97 universities of the third age and over 24,600 individual members. I look forward to returning to the Sunbury U3A in the near future to speak with them again.

I was also delighted to attend St Brigid's in Gisborne for a Q&A discussion with grade 5 and 6 students on the importance of rights, responsibilities and decision making. The students are currently undertaking a school project on the three levels of government and it was great to be there in an interactive forum where the students were able to question me on federal rights and responsibilities, how laws are made and the responsibilities of the federal government. The students put forward all arguments for and against in coming to make decisions. One example was a possibility of McDonald's being built in our community. Some students opposed it saying they believed the community could lose its country feel and some of the students' parents who run local shops and cafes would suffer as a result of McDonald's opening, while others said they saw it as a great opportunity for young people with the creation of more jobs locally, particularly part-time jobs for local students.

These discussions and the putting forward of the local situation illustrated to the students that rights, responsibilities and decision making are not just something that we as politicians encounter but something that we all come across in everyday life. Some decisions may be bigger than others and some responsibilities greater, but how we come to decisions must always be based on a thorough understanding of the issues at hand and robust debate and then the balance is right. I congratulate all the students, who undoubtedly will become future community leaders, and the knowledge, passions and questions— (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): I will now call the honourable member for Page to balance up the speakers on both sides of the chamber. I thank the honourable members for Bonner and Macarthur for their cooperation.