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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1655

Mr TUCKEY(10.18) —Tonight again two students from my electorate are in Canberra with me to see first hand the workings of the national capital and the Parliament of Australia. This is the ninth occasion on which I have invited students from senior high schools in my electorate to visit Canberra. The two young ladies, who are in the chamber tonight, are Laura Demaio from Geraldton, a coastal town of more than 20,000 people, located approximately 420 kilometres north of Perth, and Tara Woods from Northam, a town of more than 7,000 people, located 100 kilometres east of Perth. The girls have contributed all the material for this speech and, as honourable members will see, both Laura and Tara are very proud of their towns and the schools that they are representing here today.

Both towns were settled within the first 20 years of settlement in Western Australia and are now major centres for their particular districts. Geraldton is a major port and one of the largest fishing ports in Australia and will, during 1988, become a city, whilst Northam is a major rail centre in the Avon Valley and the host town of the now famous annual white water classic, the Avon descent. Both Geraldton and Northam are large agricultural centres for their respective regions, with Geraldton encompassing fishing, including cray fishing, wheat, sheep and mineral sand from nearby Eneabba. Geraldton is located on the north west coast and is a port through which pass many tonnes of our primary exports. Geraldton is on the edge of undulating plains backed by quite interesting mesa or flat-topped hills. Northam, on the other hand, is a large inland town and is situated amidst a rich and fertile agricultural district, with cereal crops, sheep, pigs and cattle being the major industries. Northam is also a centre for livestock markets which are among the largest in Western Australia.

Geraldton has several high schools, including Stella Maris College, of which Laura is head girl for 1987. Laura plans to attend university next year, and I am sure, from the time that I have spent with her here, that her determination will be successful, and we will see her going on to a successful tertiary education. Stella Maris opened in 1890. It now has over 400 students and boasts a standard of education amongst the finest in Geraldton and, might I add, Western Australia. The principal of the school is Sister Lucy.

Northam Senior High School, where Tara is a prefect, was opened in the early 1920s with 100 students and seven teachers, whilst today there are over 700 students and 55 teachers. This school caters for students from surrounding areas and from as far away as Christmas Island, part of the electorate of the Northern Territory. Tara also hopes to continue her education at the University of Western Australia. The principal at her school is Mr Allen Pritchard. Community involvement plays an important part in country lifestyles and Geraldton and Northam are no exception. Both towns cater for all interests from sport to arts and the theatre. Both towns can boast some outstanding Australians, with middle distance athlete Herb Elliott and author Randolph Stow coming from Geraldton and hurdler Shirley Strickland and naturalist Harry Butler coming from Northam.

Since arriving in Canberra Laura and Tara have visited the Regatta Point exhibition, the Australian War Memorial, the High Court of Australia, the National Gallery, the New Parliament House site, Black Mountain, Mount Ainslie, the embassies, the Institute of Sport and Civic centre and have toured Parliament House and attended Question Time in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, plus putting in some time in in my office to gain an understanding of the workings of a member of parliament.

Mr Dawkins —Were they here at Question Time today?

Mr TUCKEY —They were not here today. I wish to extend my thanks to Ansett Airlines of Australia for its assistance in this project and to Stella Maris Presentation College in Geraldton and Northam Senior High School and their respective staffs for also assisting. It is they who select these students at my request as students who can go back to their respective schools and tell their school-mates about the workings of this Parliament, warts and all. I do not care about that because I find that the great problem in Australia amongst young and old is a complete misunderstanding of this place and the value of this chamber as compared to the value of the work that goes on in our committee rooms and the very important things that happen outside this place. I am extremely happy to have both Laura and Tara in Canberra with me this week. They are great and good ambassadors, not only for Geraldton and Northam and their schools but also for Western Australia. I thank you, Madam Speaker, for your assistance in allowing me to deliver this speech which they have written on their behalf tonight.