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Thursday, 18 September 2003
Page: 20582

Mr JOHNSON (12:20 PM) —I would like to follow the preceding speaker, the member for Port Adelaide, by talking about something more important than his rambling. I would like to talk about something important to my electorate of Ryan. I had the great pleasure last week of hosting the Moggill State Primary School—

Mr Sawford —Mr Deputy Speaker, I have a question.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Does the member for Ryan accept the question?

Mr JOHNSON —No, I would like to continue my presentation to the parliament. Having very courteously listened to the words—to the rambling, in fact—of the speaker opposite, I expect that he will pay me due courtesy. I am sure that my constituents in Ryan will be made aware that those opposite sometimes fail to listen courteously to members on this side. It was a great privilege for me to host Moggill State Primary School when they visited Canberra last week. I had the opportunity to attend a special wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial. This ceremony took place in the Hall of Memory. It involved students laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and it was a very moving event.

All members of the parliament would know that the unknown soldier was one of 18,000 Australians who died on the Western Front during the First World War and who have no grave. Of course, his name remains unknown. He symbolises to all Australians something very special, a quality that we in this parliament would do well to constantly recognise and acknowledge—that is, sacrificing his life for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Like many who come to Canberra and like many of those who reside here, I have visited the War Memorial a number of times. It commemorates and honours the sacrifice of all those Australians who have died in wars throughout our history. And it does this very well. It is a fitting place for people to remember those who died in theatres of war across Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

I want to pay tribute to the hundreds of volunteers at the War Memorial, who take very seriously their role to preserve the memorial and to allow it to be seen by students, like those who came from Moggill State Primary School in the Ryan electorate, and by the teachers and parents who usually accompany school trips. I want to also mention those who came along on that trip, because they played a very important role in making that trip possible. I acknowledge the teachers from Moggill State Primary School who were on the trip: Bruce Collinson from The Gap, Beryl Wynne from Pinjarra Hills, Vera Bushing from Bellbowrie and Helen McDonald. The teachers, together with the parents who came along—Peter Sheriff and Lyn Sullivan, both from Moggill, and Mrs Annika Anderson—played a very important part in making the trip for the students of Moggill State Primary School a great success.

On the day following the visit to the War Memorial I had the opportunity to talk to the students at Parliament House. They were a very special group of young Australian students who took a great interest in the history of this parliament and in the role that members of the House of Representatives and senators play in representing their respective constituencies. I want to salute the curriculum of the school and the dedication of the schoolteachers. Clearly, the students came here with a degree of curiosity, and they asked very interesting questions. They were questions that I think other students throughout the country would also ask. It showed that there is a very strong interest in the role of the parliament in our national life and in the things that we do in this country. I was able to speak to them about the role that I play as the federal member for Ryan, representing very strongly the interests of their parents and the businesses of Ryan. As a member of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education and Training, I was able to talk to them about what this government has done for education in promoting very important reforms for students at not only the primary level but also the tertiary level. The teachers were very appreciative of the time that was made available here and it was a great pleasure for me to talk to them.

I pay tribute to the staff at the War Memorial. When schools visit Canberra, we sometimes forget that a lot of organisation is done by the institutions they visit, such as the Australian War Memorial. I thank the War Memorial staff for their time and for the certificates and photographs that they generously provided to the visiting students from Moggill State Primary School.