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Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Page: 27461

Mr McARTHUR (7:45 PM) —I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of 44 young, intelligent, well behaved students from the heartland of the Corangamite electorate. They come from the schools of Anakie, Lethbridge, Shelford, Inverleigh and Meredith, and they have with them tonight their teachers Michael West, Nicole Goosey, Melissa Arkell, Neil Lynch and Rob Lamond. They have come to see the House of Representatives in action. I acknowledge that Senator Kate Lundy looked after my students in her Senate room. There is a bipartisan spirit in the parliament, and the young students have been looked after by their own federal member and a member of the opposition.

They have seen vigorous debate here in the parliament today and I will allude to that in a minute. They were here during question time and they found out that Australia is not actually in recession. As the shadow minister at the table, Mr Laurie Ferguson, would have come to understand after question time today, Australia is roaring back because we have had a 1.1 per cent growth rate. They saw the Prime Minister in action—probably one of the best parliamentarians to grace the parliament in the history of the House of Representatives. They saw that a sound budget had been presented by Treasurer Costello. What is more, they saw the member for Corangamite actually directing a question to the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs about schools funding. Of course, the minister informed the House of the very bad policy of the opposition which, if by chance they got to government, they would implement to fund independent schools—not on the very sound basis of parental incomes that the government has proposed.

Mr Speaker, they saw you in action. They saw you with your stentorian voice controlling the House during question time. They saw that you certainly had authority in this parliament. In the early part of question time the opposition were somewhat subdued—and so they should be. But they noted that you warned nine members, who were facing the threat of expulsion. The member for Sturt, who is here in front of me, was not as well behaved as he should have been. You gave even a member of the government a one-hour suspension. The member for Lyons, a member of the opposition, was suspended for 24 hours for not doing the right thing. The member for Melbourne was suspended for one hour. But out of all that, and I report this to the students, you maintained control in very difficult circumstances while we had a very strong debate.

Mr SPEAKER —It might have been practice for the adjournment debate!

Mr McARTHUR —Back at Meredith school we had a very important debate as well. At that school we had a debate on the proposition that `going to school is a good thing'. The member for Scullin understands that, because he needs to go back to school so he can learn to read and write. On the one hand we had the leader of the government, the Prime Minister, Morgan Levick, and on the other we had the Leader of the Opposition, Emily Jacker. There was very strong debate by all the participants. The speeches were good, but they were not too long on this occasion—which would be a guide for this House. A division was called, the doors were locked, and the government won the day with this particular proposition—although there were some misgivings by the students participating. Some felt that going to school was not a good thing all the time.

The young students come from an area that is a centre for wool growing. The wool industry is improving. The wool comes from the Golden Plains Shire, a growth area where we have an expanding population and future prosperity. The particular schools and towns they come from include Anarkie, which has a world reputation for wine growing. Mr Speaker, you would have an interest in that, coming as you do from a wine growing area. Lethbridge stands halfway between Bannockburn and Meredith. Shelford is the crossing of the Leigh River and goes back to the 1840s. Inverleigh is on the Hamilton Highway at the crossing of the Barwon River. Meredith is the home of a former Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, who was a Liberal, and a very good Liberal at that. He was Premier of Victoria from 1955 to 1972, for 17 years.

We have here the future leaders of Australia from the heartland of Corangamite. They have come to the parliament and they have seen a very vigorous parliament in action today. The government, the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the ministers were very much in charge of the debate and the members of the opposition did not have a feather to fly with because they have no policy positions, as the member at the table fully understands. (Time expired)