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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5371

Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (21:56): It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to speak in the House this evening following the member for Wright and the member for Braddon, both of whom this evening celebrated the place of small businesses, the backbone of our economy.

This evening I would like to speak about the impact of the Building the Education Revolution program in my electorate. We know that $16.2 billion was invested in the future of schools and young people in this country as part of the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan, under which $42 billion was invested in Australia. Following the global financial crisis, Australia's economy and our economic management have been widely and wildly applauded. Earlier this evening the member for Fraser spoke of the decision by the Treasurer to have a timely, temporary and targeted response to the needs of our community. Obviously the targeting of the investment in our schools and the building projects that have gone on are very telling. They reveal something quite distinct that differentiates us from those on the other side of the chamber—that is, a revelation of Labor values, a certainty about investing for the future, a certainty about a positive vision for this country and a belief that our young people have the best days ahead of them, not behind them.

The other thing that it reveals quite starkly about our values is our deep commitment to jobs. We understand that employment is critical for all Australians. Through small businesses participating in the building of our local schools we have made sure that hundreds and hundreds of local workers in the seat of Robertson have been able to continue to work their way through a time where we are seeing all around the world stories of incredibly high unemployment. The flow-on to small business local suppliers has also been evident in my area.

I want to speak to two particular projects, one at Chertsey Primary School and the other at Green Point Christian College. I applaud the Principal of Chertsey Primary School, John Anderson, who very carefully monitored and managed the delivery of $2.125 million worth of investment in that local school. That school has a class for deaf students and a class for autistic students. Those students with special needs had for 14 years been attending class in a very old demountable building. In addition to the covered outdoor learning area, which provides a space for the entire community to gather, the school has new classrooms for the hearing impaired children to have a place to learn and for the autistic children to have a place in which they are truly delighted to gather each morning. I want to comment Nada Potter, who runs the after-school care service for the school and who was responsible for the wonderful celebration that we had on the day. In the time that remains, I would like to acknowledge also the amazing work that has been undertaken by the school community, the architect and the companies—there was more than one company involved—in completing the $3 million worth of works at Green Point Christian College. Mr Wayne Parks offered wonderful leadership as the principal of the school, and the Ellis family significantly drove the board to ensure that great value for the dollar was gained at the school.

As a result of our investment in education, in addition to the 300 jobs that were provided by this project—300 local jobs that kept our local people working—there are now 1,024 students who have a performance area in which to undertake drama studies and to share and use for a range of subjects. They have break-out rooms. They have 10 classrooms. They have a year 12 senior art room. All of these things were achieved by the careful financial management of Jacques Mouton, the business manager, and his team of leaders in the school.

What all this reveals is that we have much to acknowledge and celebrate: the workmanship of the construction sector, the vision and forbearance of teachers and the school community and the leadership of the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, who created jobs in our country when very few around the world were able to do the same thing in their countries. (Time expired)