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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14702

Mr ZIMMERMAN (North Sydney) (19:34): I'm continuously inspired by young people in my community who so often demonstrate such passion and foresight about the future of our nation. I make this observation in response to the hundreds of outstanding entries I received as part of my inaugural North Sydney School Speech Writing Competition. I decided to organise the competition to encourage students to put pen to paper about the issues and values that are important to them. In part, I was inspired by speeches I heard students deliver at the annual presentation day at Cammeray Public School in December. They were just outstanding.

For this, the inaugural competition, students in years 5 and 6 were asked the question: What is special about Australia? Those in years 7 and 8 were asked to outline their designs if they were the Prime Minister for a day. I am pleased to announce that the winners of this year's competition are Sam Street, who is in year 6 at Glenaeon Rudolph Steiner School, and Sharon Jacob from year 7 at North Sydney Girls High School. I hope both are watching this evening on the streaming service.

As part of the competition, I promised to deliver the winning speeches in parliament. On what is special about Australia, Sam Street submitted a beautifully poetic speech which I found quite moving. It reads as follows:

You are taking a quiet stroll along an old Australian track. Sadly, litter dots the area and a plastic bag blows across the path like a dancing jellyfish. You close your eyes and gradually some old unknown magic of the Dreamtime takes you back, back hundreds of years. You stand where you were before, but everything has changed.

You continue to walk along the old track, and many incredible things unfold before your eyes. The wind rustles the leaves above you, and you notice a furry koala sitting between the branches of a strong eucalyptus tree. You hear leaves crunching as a large golden snake slithers past. Your eyes are drawn to a flock of beautiful birds that dip and sway in the deep blue sky high above.

Then your foot hits a hard object. You spin around to see what it was, and to your astonishment it is the broken head of a wooden spear. Your heart misses a beat as a mob of kangaroos speeds past you, followed by an enthusiastic Aboriginal hunter.

Everything begins to fade, and you see the plastic bag float by again, bringing you back to reality. Suddenly you realise how special Australia is and how much you want to keep it that way. You reach out and catch the bag.

On being the Prime Minister for a day, Sharon Jacob wrote:

I'd do quite a few things to change the way we Australians live. First of all, I would give everyone an excellent education. I would also give more money for research. Another action I would take is more funding towards medical studies, especially for finding cures for fatal diseases such as cancer.

Everyone needs to be educated well. So, if I were PM for a day, I would officially declare that everyone in Australia, regardless of their age, gender, race, religion or appearance, can receive a free and exceptional education, until they are in university, because children are the pillars of Australia's future. If everyone in Australia is well educated, we can all work together more efficiently, and we can create and discover much more. We can all live better, happier lives.

We can't really deny the fact that we're pretty far behind in space exploration and AI, compared to other countries. So, if I were the PM, I'd give more money to Australian space exploration and artificial intelligence organisations. This would help them do more research and create world-first inventions, and explore the universe deeper. Imagine if robots and advanced machinery could be found in every household and building in Australia! What if Australia could have a settlement on the moon, or even Mars?

Every year, almost 50,000 people in Australia die from cancer. But cancer is not the only deadly disease. If I could be PM for a day, I'd raise more funds for medical research in Australia, so that we could save more lives and help people who are victims of diseases, regardless of whether the disease is serious or not.

I hope that one day, I can become the Prime Minister of Australia, so that I can improve the lifestyle and future of all Australians, by giving everyone an exceptional education, and giving more money for space exploration, AI and medical research. I hope that the current Prime Minister will help to achieve this dream of mine—this dream of Australia's.

I can definitely see a future Prime Minister in the making. Congratulations to both Sam and Sharon for their marvellous contributions.

I also want to acknowledge everyone else who entered the competition, because the standard was so exceptionally high. Having held this inaugural competition, I am pleased to indicate that it will become a permanent feature if I am re-elected to this place in the next term of parliament.