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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3354

Mr JENKINS (Scullin) (21:45): I wrote these words before I heard from the member for Cowper. I was going to open by saying that, in a world mired in negativity, it is proper to celebrate the achievements of government, so tonight I take the opportunity to celebrate the huge investment that has occurred in the Scullin electorate in the tertiary sector and skills development over the past four years.

As the Australian economy goes through great change, governments must ensure that investment in education and training continues to be at the forefront. Investing in Australia's people and human capital is one of the best ways to ensure their future employment and prosperity and to ensure that the workforce challenges of the future are met. Skills are at the front and centre of a Labor agenda: witness today's announcements in support of strengthening vocational education and training. In Scullin, the record investment is coming to fruition with many projects now built. The funded projects provide more opportunities for Scullin residents to skill and upskill.

In November 2010, I officially opened the $9.5 million Green Skills Centre of Excellence at the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE Epping campus, a project fully funded by the federal Labor government, providing skills in areas like grey water treatment and geothermal heat exchange. NMIT students are being trained on industry-standard equipment and facilities in this world-class training centre—a five-star, green-star building. With this industry-specific knowledge these students can confidently enter the workforce. The centre provides learning and skills development for green jobs in environmentally-sustainable practices and technologies: carbon trading, solar power and water heating, wind-power generation, rainwater harvesting and waste management and recycling—all very relevant skills training that will help us face our current and future environmental challenges.

In July 2011, I had the pleasure of opening the $10 million auditorium at RMIT's Bundoora campus. This state-of-the-art auditorium is a wonderful, innovative building, fully funded by the federal Labor government through the Better Universities Renewal Funding initiative and the Capital Development Pool. It is equipped with audiovisual equipment that improves interactive learning and engagement between staff and students, as well as flexible learning spaces that can be used for many purposes. The great thing about this new auditorium is that it is available not only to the university but to the local community, with businesses, schools and community groups now forming a closer relationship with RMIT through their use of this facility.

Another project to celebrate is the new $64 million La Trobe Institute Molecular Science research facility now established at the Bundoora campus. This world-class research facility for molecular science, biotechnology and nanotechnology is fully funded by the Gillard government and provides more than 200 science and research positions. Due to this facility, La Trobe University is now a world research leader in the fields of molecular science and biotechnology. As a science graduate I am particularly pleased that such a facility has been built benefiting students and researchers in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

The final project I wish to mention tonight is the forthcoming Northern Health Teaching, Training And Research Precinct at the Northern Hospital in Epping. This new precinct will be a partnership between Northern Health, the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University, providing student tutorial rooms and simulation and research laboratories across medicine, nursing and other allied health fields, as undergraduate opportunities. It provides up to 665 undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate student placements in the medicine, nursing and allied health fields. The Gillard government is providing $14 million towards the construction of this $35.5 million training and research precinct. It is yet another investment in our local area. It is an infrastructure investment that is a real investment in the education, skills and training of the people of Scullin.

I think we would all agree, in this place, that everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential and to fully contribute to their communities. Through federal Labor's investment in a wide range of educational possibilities this has been the case. Tonight I take this opportunity to celebrate the commitment that has been made over the past four years to tertiary education in Scullin. I will certainly be taking the opportunity to celebrate further investments in primary and secondary education.