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Thursday, 29 May 2003
Page: 15543


Mr CIOBO (12:39 PM) —I rise to talk about ways in which the Howard government is achieving good educational outcomes for all children on the Gold Coast as well as for adolescents and tertiary students. The last Howard budget was a budget that delivered in full for areas like the Gold Coast. On a number of occasions, I have mentioned in this chamber and in the main chamber that the Gold Coast faces unique challenges because of its very strong population growth rate—the fastest in the country for the last 35 years, and projected to be the fastest in the country for the next 25. This places a great burden on the infrastructure, in particular the educational infrastructure that is located within Gold Coast city.

I am delighted to stand in this chamber today to highlight ways in which this last budget delivered. I would like to break it down into several categories, principally with regard to and focusing on the secondary and tertiary sectors. If you look at, in particular, the secondary sector, you will see that over the next four years the last budget delivers $30.6 billion in funding for schools. If you break that down further, you will see that it contains, as part of the overall allocation of money, funding of $48.2 million over the next four years for the capital grants program. The capital grants program is a very real way in which the Howard government is funding capital works projects at schools in each member's electorate. I am pleased to highlight two such examples on the Gold Coast.

The first of those—and this is a recent announcement—is the allocation of additional funding of some $90,000 towards the upgrading of general learning areas at Trinity Lutheran College. I know that Trinity Lutheran College was especially pleased to have this funding allocated to it; it will go a long way to improving facilities for the children there. Likewise, as part of the Special Education—Non-government Centre Support Program, there was some $181,000 provided to the Queensland Society for Crippled Children to assist them with the facilities that they will currently be operating and building in Arundel, a suburb within my electorate. Both of these grants are significant additions to educational infrastructure on the Gold Coast, both for children who are disabled and need to have special opportunities to improve their learning outcomes and for children in mainstream educational paths.

I am very committed to the local schools and to furthering education on the Gold Coast. I recently took the opportunity to meet with the principal of Benowa State High School, John Milne, and to tour the school. Whilst it is a fantastic school, with a great number of programs in place, it is a school that would benefit more if the Queensland state government actually contributed something more to it. In particular, I was perturbed to notice that a large number of school classrooms did not even have paint on the walls. I question exactly what the Queensland state Labor government's priorities are. That school should stand proud of their fine reputation with regard to, for example, their French immersion class and their arts program. They are two fine ways in which Benowa State High School is leading the charge in terms of quality education for children.

I recently had the privilege to have the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Brendan Nelson, in my electorate. I took the opportunity to take the minister to the Southport School—TSS, as it is known. It was important that the minister had an opportunity to view both the public and private schools in my electorate. The visit to TSS was an important one, and certainly highlighted and built on the minister's awareness of exactly what can be achieved with the education of boys. I was delighted, too, as part of that visit, to have the Surfers Paradise Liberal candidate, John-Paul Langbroek, accompany me.

With regard to educational outcomes for boys, I was pleased to see $20,000 provided—as part of the lighthouse project, stage 1—to the Nerang alliance, an alliance between a number of schools in Moncrieff to help boys achieve maximum learning outcomes.

With regard to other announcements in the budget regarding the tertiary sector, I was pleased to note in particular that 1,400 new places will be provided to the tertiary education sector on the basis of population growth. I would expect that the lion's share of these places will flow to cities such as the Gold Coast. I am sure that Griffith University, which is doing an excellent job, will stand to reap the benefits of this increased investment in new places. I thought I would highlight this to the House.