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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 5248

Senator POLLEY (TasmaniaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (18:51): I rise to speak about the Building the Education Revolution program. I do so because this program has been the largest element of the government's $42 billion Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan. When complete there will have been around 24,000 projects undertaken Australia wide. The $16.2 billion BER program has been successful in modernising schools through the delivery of necessary infrastructure while supporting local jobs and stimulating investment. In many locations, such as Tasmania, students, teachers and communities are already enjoying the benefits of recently completed projects delivering world-class 21st century facilities to their schools. I have been fortunate enough to see firsthand the wonderful new facilities being built in my home state of Tasmania. I must congratulate the Tasmanian education department for the role they had in managing these projects. There have been so many opening ceremonies for new classrooms, libraries, school labs, computer labs, language centres and so much more in recent times. I feel it is important to publicly acknowledge some of these fantastic new facilities and the students, teachers and communities that are benefiting from them.

I would like to take this opportunity to speak briefly about a number of schools I have visited most recently to attend the openings of BER projects. I will start with Deloraine Primary School. Deloraine is a place close to my heart. It is not only where I went to high school but a place that has a fantastic sense of community. Naturally, I was excited to have the opportunity to attend the opening of the new library and kindergarten facilities. These new buildings will be the first experience of school for so many kindergarten children. I am happy to say they are places that will facilitate excellent learning. Deloraine Primary School received a total of $2.125 million in BER funding and constructed a new library and a new kindergarten facility.

I was also able to attend the official opening of the science laboratory of the Deloraine High School, opened by the Hon. Dick Adams MP, the federal member for Lyons. It was fantastic to be there because it brought back so many memories of the old science lab that was there when I went to school all those decades ago. To see the new facility that these young people in rural Tasmania are experiencing was a great delight. I am very proud to be part of a government that delivered these wonderful facilities.

I turn to Larmenier Catholic Primary School in Launceston, which received a total of $1.875 million in BER funding for classroom refurbishments. There is now the capacity for collaboration with neighbouring classes, access to adjacent veranda spaces, large screen televisions with internet access, a new canteen, extended storage in the basement, new student toilet facilities and a refurbished staff room. The intention of these projects was not only to ensure our education facilities are of the highest standard but also to support local jobs. This particular project supported the employment of 10 workers, which is an excellent result. I now turn to Scotch Oakburn College, which was opened by Geoff Lyons MP, the federal member for Bass. I have been to so many of these occasions with Geoff, and every one of them is an inspiration. Scotch Oakburn College received $2.7 million in BER funding for construction of a new multipurpose building. I attended the opening of this wonderful new facility and was amazed to see the clever design and thought that has gone into making a building that is so functional in so many different ways. It is not just a gymnasium, not just a classroom, not just a space for art and drama; it is all of these things rolled into one and much, much more. There are great flow-on benefits for the wider community. It is used after school hours by community groups and for learning opportunities. A vacation care program operates and there are forensic science and sporting holiday programs. These projects also support the employment of approximately 100 workers. In a place like Launceston, 100 jobs have a real impact on the local economy.

Now I turn to Invermay Primary School. Once again, I have a family connection. My older sister and brother both spent some time at this school. Invermay Primary School received a total of $2.292 million in BER funding for a new multipurpose hall and community access centre. This community hall enabled the school to have an assembly for the first time with all the students being able to attend. The school was built in 1889. The BER funding has allowed the heritage listed building to be brought into 21st century learning and to provide an early learning service to the community—a birth to five years program. It has also enabled sports programs to be held after school hours. Not only has it done that; it has brought an enormous amount of pride to that community.

At each and every one of these school openings I have been to, I have been impressed by the young students who are the meeters and greeters. When they take you round the school, show you the schoolyard and talk about their new library or their new multipurpose centre, they have such pride in their school. This is about providing the teachers with the best facilities they can have, because they have such an impact on that future generation. I am very proud to be a member of this Labor government. This investment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So many schools in Tasmania had not had any real money spent on infrastructure for 30 or 40 years.

I now turn to St Finn Barr's Catholic primary school at Invermay, which benefited with $2.125 million in BER funding for a new multipurpose hall. A facility such as this will make a significant difference to all the students. To be there and witness my local priest doing the blessing and to have Geoff Lyons there again doing the opening made me very proud to be a member of this Labor government. That facility was long overdue. It has transformed that school.

I now turn to the West Launceston Primary School, which received $2.125 million in BER funding for a multipurpose hall and early childhood classrooms. Something that has impressed me in each of these schools is the fact that the teachers, the school council, the P&F and the architects were all working together to make sure they got value for money. I do not believe that there was one dollar wasted in Tasmania. West Launceston Primary School is located very close to the gorge, which is one of the main tourist attractions. The school actually incorporated the environment in their building work, which reflected the gorge. A lot of thought went into that project. The young lady who met me and showed me around the new facilities had great pride in her school and knew everything about the early learning environment and the multipurpose hall. She was inspirational. This is where the investment is really going to pay off for us for a long time to come. Helen Boyer, the principal of the West Launceston Primary School said:

Our project gave us outstanding "value for money"—we gained many solutions to issues that had frustrated our school community for years and also created educational possibilities we could only dream about. The importance of these developments to the future of our school and our local community cannot be underestimated and on behalf of our school community I sincerely and warmly thank the Federal Government for their support.

East Launceston Primary School, another one opened by Geoff Lyons MP, received $3.2 million in BER funding. The school got a new library and classrooms were refurbished. The BER project has ensured quality learning spaces throughout that school. The addition of a new 21st century library is providing the students with first-class English and ICT resources. There are a number of other schools in Launceston which have visited that library to get inspiration.

In total, Bass has received $86 million in BER funding, Lyons has received $82 million, Franklin has benefited from more than $75 million, Dennison has had over $93 million and Braddon has received more than $100 million of BER funding. This funding has gone towards completing projects that were necessary. Their positive impact will be felt for years to come. We want educational facilities that will complement the learning of our children and that is what we have achieved through the Building the Education Revolution program. I congratulate the Prime Minister and I congratulate the minister for overseeing wonderful outcomes which will be beneficial to children not only now but into the future. (Time expired)