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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1875

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (22:16): The American education reformer Horace Mann once said the public school 'is the greatest discovery ever made by man'. My electorate contains many large schools like Raceview, Silkstone and Brassall state schools, all of which received $3 million in the Building the Education Revolution. But in my electorate I am proud to have delivered unprecedented funding to the small rural schools in rural Ipswich and the Somerset. In these rural communities west and north-west of Ipswich these small schools were much neglected by the previous, coalition government. Flagpoles were what they thought the schools needed.

The heart of these communities is the rural school. It is a place not just for education but for friendship and fellowship. It is a place that connects people. It is a place that offers country kids the joy of learning and a window to the world. It provides an equality of opportunity that would not have happened but for the funding of good facilities in small country schools. With 64 schools in my electorate of Blair receiving approximately $107 million for state-of-the-art libraries, school halls, science and language centres, performing arts facilities, classrooms and special needs facilities, my electorate has really received a lot of assistance from this federal Labor government. And these facilities would not have existed but for this federal Labor government. In this Year of the Farmer I am particularly proud to have opened many new facilities in our much neglected small country schools.

Those opposite declare that they represent the interests of rural and regional Australia, but it took a federal Labor government to bring these small schools into the 21st century. Just in the last week I opened a new library that cost $250,000, a $50,000 outdoor learning area and other improvements at Prenzlau State School, a school established in 1894. This funding will serve this community and its 24 students well into the future. This is a school that has been serving the community for a very long time. It is a school where the P&C president, Mr Terry Herrmann, recounts that his family were among the first intake of students.

I also opened the Marburg State School's multipurpose hall and other improvements worth $300,000. This school has three times the enrolments that it once had—about 62 students. That is only a fairly recent increase. Like Prenzlau, it has a proud heritage, having been established in 1879. Its long history of educating rural students goes back to times when it developed a forest plot. The school planted 275 trees, proving these rural schools ahead of their time. They taught about agriculture and horticulture. Today they would be called carbon farmers. Last year we saw a number of historic schools open new facilities. Clarendon State School got what it calls the Clarendome. This small school has about 60 students and is in the lower part of the Somerset region. It has what I think is probably one of the best ovals and sports facilities you could ever see, funded by this federal Labor government. They greatly appreciate it because it has become the heart: other small country schools use their facilities to come together for sporting activities and the kids get the opportunity to play sport on a collective and team basis. The Patrick Estate State School is also an 86-year-old school, near Lowood, and it received $300,000 for an outdoor living area. The facility is fondly named the Fishy Shed, in honour of Shirley Fisher, who is a former student and was a teacher aide for 21 years. The facility services 51 students, double the number since last year. That shed was the basis from which the school was rebuilt after the devastation of the floods in January 2011. It is the same with the Harlin State School, where the new library is the place where the whole community meets. That 103-year-old school had 36 students last year and it now has 42.

I could go on and on about how this federal Labor government has made a difference in rural and regional Queensland. To the eternal shame of those opposite, they have opposed every last dollar and every last cent into these schools. (Time expired)