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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3550

Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (10:21): It's difficult to understand and reconcile that, in the 21st century, in a nation as prosperous as ours, the great country of Australia, we are still sending kids to school hungry. The parents haven't fed them. They haven't had breakfast. It impedes their ability to learn, to concentrate. It's a disgrace. A couple of months ago I stood in this parliament and advocated the importance of the School Chaplaincy Program—$380 million for the year. I was heckled by those on the other side of the parliament, who said, 'If we get into government, we're going to shut the chaplaincy program down.' These men and women around the country who give their time to make sure that our children, the next generation of Australia, are fed breakfast, do so not because of the religion they believe in; they do it because they know they're making our country stronger. They're making our nation greater.

It disappoints me that we don't have bipartisan support for the chaplaincy program. I take this opportunity to acknowledge that, last night, in the federal budget, Scott Morrison, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and finance minister Mathias Cormann made a contribution to the chaplaincy program and said they would continue to fund it—that it wouldn't be cyclical; it will now be ongoing. The great work that these men and women do in our schools is unfathomable. As for those that don't understand what the chaplains do, those that troll Facebook and suggest to me that these people are God-botherers and that there's no place in the community for chaplains, you're entitled to your opinion, but do me a favour: I encourage you have a chat to the principal of your local school, and ask them the value of what a chaplain does. They do absolutely incredible work. It saddens me that there are those on the other side of this parliament who, if ever in office, would seek to abolish the work that chaplains do. I'm proud to be a Liberal Party member. I'm proud that our government has stood behind the chaplains. I'm proud that we're helping feed the next generation of young Australians.