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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4860

Mr SYMON (Deakin) (22:15): This evening I will relate to the House yet another good news story about the Building the Education Revolution, in particular the Primary Schools of the 21st Century, the P21, component. As all members of the House would know, both the Liberal and National parties voted against this once-in-a-generation infrastructure program back in 2009. If left to the Liberal and National opposition not one school in Australia would have benefited from the $16 billion of investment that the Labor government has made in schools right across Australia. Fortunately, however, for all of the schools not only in my electorate of Deakin but also in the other 149 electorates in Australia, the opposition failed in their attempt to block the BER and failed in their attempt to block the federal Labor government's stimulus program that our economy needed so much during the depths of the global financial crisis.

At last count, I still have a dozen full or partial BER openings to attend in the electorate of Deakin. But, in the meantime, I will talk about the great results that were achieved by Mullum Primary School in Ringwood. The six new classrooms, community kitchen and classroom refurbishments in the existing part of the school have made a huge difference to Mullum. As good as it now looks, a project such as this does not just happen overnight and it can often take a lot of time to get things right. Although fully federally funded, this project could not have happened without the persistence of the school principal, Lynne Holland, Julie Denman, Jenny Verhiden and the entire teaching staff. Along with the school council president, Stuart McPhee, and the entire school council, the parents association, the Eastern Metropolitan Team at the state Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the project managers, contractors and workers on the project and, importantly, the entire school community, there were no end of people who contributed to make the project a success and who are now benefiting from these much-needed modern buildings on site.

For those in this chamber who do not know Mullum primary, it is a great school in Ringwood, which is 50 years old next year—and, until very recently, it certainly looked like it was 50 years. I well remember my first visit to Mullum back in May 2008 to hand out some leadership badges. I have often said that a great school does not have to look good from the outside to be a great school on the inside, but it helps no end to people who do not know what is on the inside. The casual passerby, the prospective parent or visitor always sees what is at the front gate and just beyond it. And, even if it is the best school in the suburb, if the paint is peeling off the building or the window frames are rotting, they may not see any more than that.

It is important that the school community knows that government cares about their school. In this case, Mullum definitely knows that the federal government cares about their school. That is great for our local community and of course great for the kids in the school.

It was back on 23 March 2009 that I visited Mullum Primary School to speak to the school principal, Lynne Holland, about what the BER could mean for a school like Mullum primary. If I remember rightly, we may have started off talking about a full-sized hall with a basketball court. There were quite a few setbacks along the way with that plan and we then discussed a stage in the building where we might have had a cantilever over an eight-metre drop-off, which would have provided fantastic views but would have meant that most of the money went into a concrete slab. There were other plans drawn up to put a large building on the top half of the site, but it actually did not fit and went over the boundary lines. Eventually we got to the point where the project that now stands was put in place. I think everyone involved with the school would say without hesitation that it was the absolute best use of the $2.6 million they got from the P21 program. The brand new classrooms, community kitchen and refurbishments, particularly the refurbishments, have made the school so much better than it was just a couple of years ago. The important part is that it provided local employment in our area when it was needed most, and that is what the federal Labor government achieved in the face of the global financial crisis: local employment for the short term and local infrastructure for the long term. What should never be forgotten by anyone is that, whilst other countries spent public money bailing out banks and in some cases, especially in Europe, still are, Australia invested in our children's and our community's future.

The official opening on Saturday, 17 March 2012 was a great success and a real showcase for the school. I would like to thank school captains Nicholas McKenzie and Lucy Haley for taking me on a tour of their new facilities and showing me the internal refurbishments that were also funded, as I said, through the BER. They showed me how the school had benefitted in so many different ways and I know from listening to the principal, teachers and parents of the school that they will appreciate such an investment for many decades to come. (Time expired)