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Speech at the Blackburn Lake Primary School.



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9 May 2001

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP SPEECH AT THE BLACKBURN LAKE PRIMARY SCHOOL

Subjects: Centenary of Federation

E&OE……………………………………………………………………………………

Well thank you very much Philip, my friend and colleague, the Federal Member for Deakin, Senator Tsebin Tchen, Senator for Victoria, Mr David Jewell the principal of the school, to all the other distinguished guests, the Mayor, Mr Ross Kimber, the regional director, ladies and gentlemen and students.

A few years ago, like fifty I think, I was in 6A of Earlwood Primary School of Sydney, a school very much like this, not dissimilar area of Sydney than where we are now and that was when we celebrated fifty years of the Federation of the six Australian colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia and that was in 1951. And we got presented with a medallion, a memento and I thought as we were coming up to the celebration of the 100 years it would be a very good thing if every single schoolchild in Australia received a medallion to mark this very special occasion.

And the idea is that as far as possible around Australia there should be little gatherings like this where the medallions are presented. Now I can�t go to every school, it�s a bit difficult, but what I did want to do on this very special day and there are two days above all days that we celebrate in this year of 2001, there�s the 1st of January when we had a celebration in Sydney of the actual start of the Commonwealth of Australia and the formation of the first government. And the next one is today here in Melbourne because a hundred years ago today

as that beautiful painting by Tom Roberts shows us, the first Parliament of Australia was opened at the Royal Exhibition Building here in Melbourne. And we�re going to in a way re-enact that. It will be a bit hard, the dress is different, the manner of speech is a bit different and we won�t really try and completely re-enact but we will certainly celebrate that occasion.

Now I wanted to come to a school that was representative of Australia�s future, because we�re going to talk a lot about the past, but all of us are also very interested in what�s happening now and what goes on in the future. And you are our future, for all of us. What happens in Australia over the next one hundred years you will shape, rather than somebody of my generation and therefore it�s very important that I as prime minister honour the importance of the young people of this country, the children, the students and all of those who are going to play a part in building the kind of country I know we all want to have over the next hundred years.

This is a wonderful country. It is the best country in the world in which to live. It�s a country where people get on very well together, they treat people decently. It�s a country that hasn�t been touched by war and it�s a country where people are free to go about their lives and live their own lives as long as they don�t interfere with the freedom and the happiness and the contentment of other people.

And the education you receive at this school in the state education system in Victoria is a wonderful education. And I always say to gatherings of school students, remember what your teachers do for you, they are a very important part of your life and without their care and attention your lives will in the future be a lot less than they would otherwise be. And you owe a lot to them, you not only owe them respect, but you also owe them the gratitude of what they impart to you while you are at school.

But this is not a day for long speeches because I remember when I was at school, I didn�t like too many long speeches from any of the visitors. I�m & being a federal, being a prime minister, I can�t declare a holiday, that is a matter for the state authorities and I won�t get into that. But I�ll simply say that it�s a real pleasure for me to take a break from all of the official functions and all of the big speeches and all of the other things that are a very important part, but to actually come to spend a few minutes with Australia�s future, because that is what you represent. And I want to thank your principal. I want to thank all the teachers at this school for the tremendous job they do in educating. It�s not an easy task and there are a lot more burdens carried by teachers now than I suspect was the case thirty or forty years ago.

But to all of the teachers, the students, the parents associated with Blackburn Lake Primary School, happy days. I hope you all enjoy your school days here with great affection and you remember them years into the future and let us all remember how lucky we are to live in the most wonderful country in the world.

Thank you.

[Ends]

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