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Thursday, 1 March 2012
Page: 2605


Mr JENKINS (Scullin) (13:06): I start by thanking everybody associated with the Federation Chamber for allowing the conclusion of this sitting today to be a tad late. I appreciate the flexibility shown by the clerks, Hansard and the attendants in enabling that. I have now been given a bit of an intro into making comment about the member for Longman, because he was so gracious to have moved the adjournment and we have been so gracious to allow him to speak. I encourage him with his endeavours to make sure that the youth of Australia are aware of the ways in which they might participate in decision making.

This is my first opportunity, of course, because it is my first adjournment for such a long time, in the presence of the member for Longman to remind him of the great work that was done by people that I associate with at La Trobe University to enable his career to have a boost by banishing him to Queensland! I will now get back to the substance of what I wished to speak about.

Wyatt Roy: I saw the light!

Mr JENKINS: I think that the young man should be quiet now. We will have plenty of opportunities to continue the episodes about his time at La Trobe University.

I want to celebrate the 28th Building the Education Revolution opening that I was involved in last Wednesday—the 28th since October 2010 in schools in the Scullin electorate in the outer north of Melbourne. As I have said to others, I could never have expected that there would be a program that could deliver with such great accomplishment to the institutions that have been involved than the Building the Education Revolution. It is unheard of for a safe Labor seat, from any form of government, to get the sort of boost that we have seen through this program. Each of those schools are appreciative of what has happened to them. It is not the end—there are still more schools where we will celebrate the opening of facilities.

But in particular I want to highlight this, the 28th one, because it was Merriang Special Developmental School. This is an interesting tale, because for the first time in their 24-year history they will be going into a purpose-built school for them. They have been like gypsies: roaming around using facilities that have not been used. Over the journey they have gone from Thomastown East Primary to the Peter Lalor Secondary College—they were originally in Helping Hand in High Street in Epping. But the real story about this new school is that it is on the site of the former Peter Lalor Secondary College, which will be transformed because we will be building a trade training centre. So there are great elements of cooperation between our federal government programs, the state education department and the schools themselves. What happened was that, in the state of Victoria, after the allocation of money it was up to the regional bodies of the state education department to come to some agreement with the schools that any amounts that are left over could be aggregated and put towards good causes. So a school like Merriang Special Developmental School, which was probably only eligible for in the order of $800,000, was able to use over $2 million in federal funding, added to the state's funding of $3 million, to build this purpose-built facility for the children who attend their school. I think that this is such a highlight of the way in which the Building the Education Revolution has delivered for schools throughout Australia.

I visited this school during its construction phase, and I want to share with the Federation Chamber one aspect of that visit. The principal, Helen Halley-Coulson, who is a very great urger, was there taking us around. But she put us in the hands of the foreman of works—the person who was there from the construction company. As we went into each aspect, that foreman, on behalf of his workforce, knew what each feature of the building was to be used for. So it was a celebration of the way that the community can come together, when encouraged by appropriate government funding, to achieve a result. I congratulate everybody involved with the new Merriang Special Developmental School.

Question agreed to.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 13:11