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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4854

Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (21:55): How to follow that? I am pleased this evening to mention to the House that it is Education Week in Victoria this week. It was great to be out at St Mark's in Emerald on the weekend with a group of people who were there substantially for the purposes of commending local teachers and reflecting on the work that they do, so I was very pleased to go along to that. I am less pleased to update the House that the fact that it is Education Week in Victoria seems to have escaped a notable part of the Victorian community, namely the Victorian government. Apparently Ted Baillieu missed that memo.

Despite the fact that it is Education Week, we find that one of the largest providers of education, particularly to people from lower socioeconomic and disadvantaged backgrounds in the south-eastern region, is going to face very significant budget cuts as a result of the Victorian government's decision to slash funding for TAFE. Indeed, the outlook for Chisholm TAFE, which has a campus in my electorate in Berwick, is looking very grim indeed. Earlier last week, the CEO advised a range of us who were there for a community cabinet in my seat of La Trobe that they were expecting losses of between $20 million and $30 million. They have estimated that around $25.5 million, nearly a third of its government funding, will be lost on top of $4 million in funding already lost as a result of decisions of the state government last October. So this is fairly troubling news, particularly in Education Week when we are supposed to be reflecting on ways in which education can transform not only individuals but whole societies and certainly our society.

At the same time, I am pleased to advise the House about some of the more positive aspects of education, particularly in my electorate. I mentioned that I was at a community cabinet last week, and I would like to pay tribute to the staff, students and parents at Timbarra College, with particular thanks to principal Jan Adamson. I know they took great pride in hosting the event last week. They not only hosted it but their students provided entertainment and hospitality. They certainly looked after us and were very much involved in the evening. It is a credit to them that they did that in what was a busy week, for a variety of reasons, for them.

I was also very pleased to go out to the Basin Primary School last week for the opening of their new multipurpose building. It is a school that is 132 years old this year. It was established in 1880 and I was very pleased to be there with staff, students, principal Graham Russell and the school council president Graham McLauchlan to open officially the new building, which is a $2 million new classroom and multipurpose centre, and also to recognise the $125,000 commitment for refurbishment of existing buildings at what is one of the most long-standing schools in my electorate.

I was also very pleased to head out to Beaconhills College on Thursday to open a new technology centre at the Berwick campus. The federal government committed around $750,000 to that. It will enable the college to deliver subjects in product design, systems engineering and fashion and textiles. The centre will enable students to produce materials of an industrial standard, so it really is a centre of excellence. My congratulations go to them, particularly to those who had the vision and foresight to develop not only a plan for the technology centre but a master plan for the campus. Congratulations to principal Tony Sheumack.

I was also out at another of their campuses earlier in the year where the federal government also made a substantial commitment to a new building under its capital grants program. The building is effectively a new wing for the junior school. It is a credit to them that they have managed all of that work in tandem with the very busy schedule that schools inevitably have.

In the short time available to me I would like to congratulate Macclesfield Primary School, which I visited during last week, and principal John Chiswell, who has presided over a very significant new building development at a school in one of the more remote bits of my electorate. I am pleased that the federal government could support this school with a building of around $2 million. It is a credit to the school that it has managed that building project so successfully.

There are great things going on in education, supported by this federal government but unfortunately not matched by our Victorian counterparts.