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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2862

Mrs ELLIOT (Richmond) (09:31): I rise today to speak on two great education initiatives that have happened recently in Pottsville in my electorate of Richmond. Last week I had the great privilege of participating in the official opening of the St Ambrose Catholic Primary School. This fantastic $6.5 million facility included more than $2.9 million in federal funding for the construction of the school. It was wonderful that the school opening was attended by the Bishop of Lismore, the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett. I would also especially like to acknowledge the school's principal, Brian Laybutt, and also the local community for their collective vision and enthusiasm in establishing this great school, St Ambrose Catholic Primary School in Pottsville. We know that this project has overwhelming support, as demonstrated by the strong enrolment figures of 143 children in just its few short opening months.

As the local member, I am always fighting to make sure our community gets its fair share from Canberra. I am very proud to work with locals in delivering important funding for initiatives such as this fantastic new school. This funding will help maintain and improve the educational opportunities for primary school children in the Pottsville and wider communities.

Also in terms of educational needs, the Pottsville community has been calling out for a local high school for many years, as their population continues to grow. Pottsville Beach Public School has had increasing enrolments for many years. It had fewer than 500 students in 2008 and more than 700 by 2013. Also, the nearest state secondary school is Kingscliff High School, leaving some students from the areas around Pottsville travelling by bus for hours each day. That is why it was fantastic last week to have the shadow minister for the North Coast, Walter Secord, and our Labor candidate for Tweed, Ron Goodman, make a major education announcement at Pottsville. They announced that a Foley Labor government will set aside $40 million to plan and build a new high school at Pottsville.

Pottsville and the surrounding community have been fighting for years to get a local high school to cater for the growing number of students, and Labor's Pottsville High School plan is fully funded and will be delivered without privatising electricity. Make no mistake about it: this is a huge community victory. I want to congratulate all those community members who have worked so hard for so many years fighting for this high school. They have arranged petitions, market stalls and so many meetings. And now Labor has listened and delivered. It was a great day being able to announce this funding.

In the past we had the National Party ignoring the community. When Labor made this announcement, the local state member's only response was that he was opposed to the high school—he said that it was not needed. This is quite frankly insulting. It shows just how out of touch the local National Party member, Geoff Provest, is with local parents in Pottsville and the Tweed Coast area. More importantly, it shows yet again why the Nationals cannot be trusted. It is only Labor that will deliver a high school for Pottsville to make sure our local kids get the education they deserve.

It was such an exciting day when Labor announced this initiative. This community has been crying out for years for a high school. They have quite frankly been ignored by the local National Party member, Geoff Provest. But Labor has listened and Labor has made a strong commitment to a high school at Pottsville.