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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 161

Ms HALL (12:00 PM) —I would like to raise in the House today three issues: two education issues, and an issue relating to some constituents in the Shortland electorate. Recently I was visited in Parliament House by TAFE teachers who have walked from the Hunter and the Central Coast to Canberra to raise awareness of the critical state of funding for TAFE. These TAFE teachers were extremely concerned about the federal government’s commitment to TAFE funding. They highlighted the fact that since the Howard government has been elected it has overseen a slashing of funding to TAFE within Australia. They advised me—and I know from budget papers and from investigating the funding issue—that one of the first acts of the Howard government was to rip funding out of the TAFE system. I want to put on the record that I support TAFE and the TAFE teachers who walked to Canberra. They have my 100 per cent support in working towards ensuring an increase in funding for TAFE.

The next issue I would like to raise is an issue that was raised with me by schoolteachers from my electorate. Last week I met with teachers from Belmont High School and Swansea High School. They pointed out to me the fact that they feel this government, once again, is conducting a vendetta against public schools. Two wonderful public schools like Belmont and Swansea are going without whilst this government—a government that is not committed to public education—has imposed its policy. I think that is a fair statement to make. This government has not made the kind of commitment that I would like to see to public education.

I think it is important for me also to put on the record that the Shortland electorate is an electorate where over 80 per cent of the students attend public schools. Those that do not attend public schools attend Catholic schools or the poorer independent schools. The actions of the Howard government have really disadvantaged students within the Shortland electorate: those attending our public high schools such as Belmont, Swansea, Warners Bay, Whitebridge, Gorokan and Northlakes and the many primary schools in the electorate.

The final item I would like to raise in this House is the fact that I have been contacted in my office by two constituents who lived in Windale, which is the most disadvantaged area in the Shortland electorate and is known as one of the most disadvantaged areas in the whole of Australia. If anyone is familiar with Tony Vincent’s work, they would know that it is a very disadvantaged area. Last Wednesday night a block of units burnt down in that suburb. The people that lived there lost absolutely everything that they owned. These are people that are extremely disadvantaged. You would have to compare their situation to that of the many other residents in the Shortland electorate who have been very badly affected by the floods and the storms. Those people who have been affected by the storms and floods were given $1,000 if they were out of their house for 48 hours, whereas the people in Windale—these extremely disadvantaged people—have only been offered a payment of $250. I implore the minister—and I will be contacting the minister about this today—to view the circumstances of these extremely disadvantaged people in the same way that he viewed the circumstances of those people who have been so badly affected by the flood.