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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 951

Mr LYONS (Bass) (21:56): I rise in the House this evening to speak on the opening of Hooked on Books, an exhibition visiting the Launceston Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery at Inveresk, and to thank Mr Richard Mulvaney, Director of QVMAG, for his words at the opening, which I quote from tonight.

Peter Gouldthorpe, artist and illustrator, opened the exhibition on Friday night. The exhibition showcases Albert Ullin's collection of children's picture book illustrations from 1974 to 2009. Albert Ullin is a former president of the Children's Book Council of Australia. He is a recipient of the Dromkeen Medal for services to children's literature and he received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1997.

It is my understanding that Mr Ullin began acquiring the works in the late 1970s, when he became aware that young illustrators of picture books were struggling to make a living. The Hooked on Books exhibition is presented, curated and managed by OzLink Entertainment and is certainly worth a visit for families.

This exhibition is particularly important as 2012 is the National Year of Reading. The National Year of Reading promotes the idea of children learning to read and provides sources of inspiration for those who are already keen readers.

According to the 2006 adult literacy and life skills survey, nearly half of all Australians—46 per cent—do not have the literacy skills they need to cope with the complex demands of everyday life and work in the emerging knowledge based economy. This could range from the basic demands of everyday life, such as reading a street sign or recipe, to understanding instructions on a medicine bottle, reading a text book at school or reading safety instructions at work.

Australian libraries and library associations were behind the campaign to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading, linking together a range of inspirational programs and events. Libraries will be partnering with government, the media, writers, schools, publishers, booksellers, employers, childcare providers, health professionals and a whole host of other organisations that share a passion for reading.

The Launceston City Council in my electorate of Bass is participating in the National Year of Reading by distributing book vouchers to children participating in citizenship ceremonies throughout 2012, and providing information about the initiative at community events such as Children's Week activities.

The council is also working with the Launceston Library to support their National Year of Reading program of activities, and is liaising with Cityprom to coordinate an event in the city that will promote the joy of reading.

I hope that all parents read to their children and that children who have eye problems are able to get them rectified if possible as early as possible so that the potential for learning is available to them.

It is my hope that every child in Launceston can visit this exhibition. I thank Richard Mulvaney and curator Jacqueline Taylor OAM for their efforts. I also wish to note that there are some great ambassadors for the National Year of Reading, including my good friend and colleague Dick Adams, the member for Lyons; Bryce Courtenay AM; and Anh Do, among many others.

The Australian government is committed to delivering the highest quality education for all Australian students and has engaged states and territories in a challenging reform agenda for literacy and numeracy. This new approach to improving outcomes is based on greater collaboration around what works. Getting the basics right at school is critical in building an education system that pursues excellence and equity for every student. The Gillard Labor government believes that every child in every school has the right to a great education. We have invested $65 billion in schools over four years—almost double the coalition's investment in their last term.

The UK's National Year of Reading in 2008 was successful in starting to shift attitudes to and behaviours around reading with specific target audiences. It resulted in 6,000 National Year of Reading events registered on the website and 2.3 million new public library members. This was a fantastic achievement and one that I hope can be repeated here in Australia. I ask that every member of the community visit the Hooked on Books exhibition at the QVMAG in Launceston.