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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 1014

Ms SMYTH (4:29 PM) —I am very pleased this afternoon to rise to make a few remarks about initiatives in my electorate of La Trobe. Education matters are very dear to me, as they are very dear to all members of this government, and that is certainly reflected in the commitment of this government in its initial term, and now in its second term, to education in terms of capital expenditure, curriculum development and its financial commitments to expanding the range of educational offerings available to people in communities such as mine.

I would particularly like to mention two schools in my electorate. I had the pleasure of visiting St John the Baptist Parish Primary School in Ferntree Gully last week in order to open their new multipurpose hall, grounds upgrade and shade structure, which was completed under the BER program. It was an incredibly interesting experience. Not only was I able to meet with those from the school community and the parish who had contributed to this project but I also heard firsthand from the architect and from the builder who had been very heavily involved in the process.

In fact the architect was enthused by the process and so appreciative of the BER program. He remarked that, when the global financial crisis hit, his firm was expecting there to be a significant loss of projects. It was looking very difficult for his firm to continue functioning, and so he was extremely pleased to be able to participate in a project which generated around 128 jobs in my community. We see not only the educational benefits of a fantastic initiative at St John the Baptist Parish Primary School but one which has assisted so directly in the livelihoods of members of our communities.

I should also remark that St John the Baptist is known to me as a school and a parish which has made a significant commitment over the 75 years of the school and the 100 years of the parish to social justice initiatives in the community, and I am very pleased that the federal government has been able to support the ongoing initiatives through the provision of a school facility which assists in making connections between members of the community and the school.

The second school I would like to mention briefly in my remaining time is Clyde North primary school, a much smaller school at the opposite end of my electorate. I was pleased to be able to visit the opening of their library and classroom area during the past week. Many members of the school community remarked to me that it is often difficult for them to compete with other schools, which are more established and have more advanced facilities than them, and they are incredibly appreciative of the federal government’s commitment to their new school facilities through the BER program.