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Thursday, 22 March 2007
Page: 154

Mrs MARKUS (12:38 PM) —I rise to talk about one of the best programs that has ever been initiated by the Howard coalition government, and that is the Investing in Our Schools Program, which was announced in the lead-up to the last election. It has an allocation of $1 billion: $700 million of that to go to government schools and $300 million to go to non-government schools. I also congratulate the now Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon. Julie Bishop, on her work to secure the additional $0.2 billion. That is going to go a long way towards assisting schools in the next round if they have not had the opportunity to apply till now.

I wish to highlight what has been delivered not just in my electorate but in every electorate across the whole nation. Whether you are a member on the opposite side or on this side of the House, you will know that this has benefited schools, students and the living and working environment of teachers and their students on a daily basis. In my electorate of Greenway, government schools have received $4.235 million and non-government schools have received close to $572,000. That is close to $4.9 million. This is money that was not available to schools prior to the last election; this is money that has never previously been available from the federal government. I congratulate the Howard government and the education ministers past and present on their hard work in delivering this.

In many of the schools that I have spoken to, particularly in recent weeks, where I have had the privilege of announcing fresh funds and also talking to them about and opening what we have already been able to deliver, the response from the school students and also the parents has indeed been heartening. Recently I attended Barnier Public School—the principal there is Mr Rod Gibbs, and Mrs Vivienne Husking leads the Friends of Barnier Inc.—and I had the privilege of listening to the students as they showed me the ICT equipment costing $50,000 that was delivered by the federal government. This is enabling these students to learn in an environment that meets their needs and where teaching is delivered in a methodology that is 21st century. So this is indeed wonderful.

I will also talk about a number of other schools. I want to highlight one project that the Minister for Education, Science and Training was able to come and open with me, and that was at Riverstone High School, where they have extreme temperatures, sometimes over 40 degrees. Some of the funding was able to be used to build an outdoor education area which is covered to ensure the safety and protection of the students, particularly in the heat of the summer sun.

I would also like to mention another school, called Lalor Park. This school is going to secure funds that are well overdue. This school has not been able to secure the assistance that it requires from the state government. This school is severely underresourced and was actually advised by the state department that it should not apply. It has secured $142,000 for the construction of a toilet block. The toilet blocks were completely unacceptable for any student in our day and age to use. They were leaking. They were filthy, and not through lack of cleaning. They were completely unacceptable—Third World. So I congratulate Lalor Park.

I had been knocking on their door, talking to them and asking them, ‘How come you haven’t secured funding?’ and they were telling me that they were advised by the state department, by the state Labor government, not to apply. Yet the state Labor government and the member, whose name I will not mention, failed to secure the basic needs of a hygienic toilet block for these children. So I commend this program. I think it is a wonderful program, and I would love to see it continue beyond this round of funding. (Time expired)