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Opening of facilities at Tully State High School, Tully, Australia.

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Opening of Facilities at Tully State High School

Tully, Australia, 27 November, 2002

Mr and Mrs Bukbardis, to Mr Ian Stewart, and to the other staff, and all of the students here, and the very distinguished guests who have joined us for this very important opening. Mayor, Councillor Tip Burne and Councillor Joe Galliano, and also your P&C President, Peter Newton, and Mr Ian Lenant, the immediate past President.

It's a great honour for me to be with you today and to be officially opening your new science block.

Now, I come from Ayr, just down the road where we grow better sugar cane than you do, but we don't grow as good a banana as you. But I am very sorry I kept you waiting this morning.

I was in Melbourne yesterday doing some work but the plane I was to come up on last night was hit by lightning so couldn't fly so I had to come up from Melbourne this morning and then wasn't able to drive down from Cairns, so I had to Charter down in a little plane.

So I am very, very sorry, and I apologise to all of you for keeping you waiting but I was determined to get here because this is such an important occasion and I do thank the band for their renditions before I got here. They obviously kept you all entertained and the couple of numbers I heard really do demonstrate what a great set of musicians you have here.

Students, and ladies and gentlemen, it is important, I think, that governments work together to get better facilities for our education, and I know that is the goal of the Federal Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, whom I represent here today.

And education, as you would know, is principally a State Government issue, but it is so important that the Federal Government actually decided some years ago that we would come in and help with your science block.

The total costs was $885,000, and that's a lot of money. But the Federal Government that I represent actually put in $796,000 of that $885,000 and we worked with the State who put in $89,000 to make sure you have this facility.

So at the Federal Government level, we're prepared to spend money to make sure that you do have the very, very best of services and we do provide throughout Queensland this year alone some $44 million to school building programmes and that comes from the Federal Government. This is in addition to what the State Government puts in. A lot of the State Government money comes from the GST.

You would have heard a lot about the GST in recent times. Well, all that GST money goes to the State Government and that's what they use to build schools and pay the staff and all of those sorts of things. So when you do pay GST on something in the future don't be annoyed about it because it is money that does go back to the State Government and they use it for education and other things.

There are a lot of different programs that we try and help with from a Federal Government level, things like students with a disability, programmes on literacy and numeracy, programs on drug education, because we're determined that young people will understand the dangers of drugs.

We spend money on Indigenous education, education on-line, the national school science program, which many of you would no doubt be involved in, quality teacher programs to make sure your teachers are the best they possible can be. And I know from talking around that your teachers here don't need much training. They're excellent and very, very professional.

Another recent education programme the Federal Government?funded is called and so if you are looking at what you wish to do in the future you can click in on that internet programme and it will help you look at the different options you might have for your future.

Now students and ladies and gentlemen, the new science block I am told has two labourites, a preparation room and a staff room and it serves the high school here of some 650 students I am told between years 8 and 12.

And look, can I also congratulate you on being one of the schools that been selected as being a Centre of Excellence in Science Technology and Aquaculture. I know you are currently involved in a three-year program with the Smithfield High School and the James Cook University in that area.

And can I tell you that delights me a lot because as well as being Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation I am also the Federal Minister for Fisheries and across Australia I look after fisheries and aquaculture from a Federal point of view.

So I am delighted to hear you are working in that aquaculture area. I can't wait to finish here and go and have a look the new science building but also to have a look at what you've done in the aquaculture area.

Ladies and gentlemen and students, congratulations to all of those who have been so very much involved in this program. I have heard from both Mr Bukdardis and Mr Stewart and the three excellent presenters Jessica, Sandy and Lea talking about the values of science.

Can I tell you that when I was your age at school I wasn't very good at science? And I thought, what's the purpose of science? But years later, when I am in the Federal Government ,and doing lots of things at a national level, I understand just how very important science is to Australia's future.

Everything I do in aquaculture or fisheries, forestry or in natural recourse management, the conservation portfolio I also hold, is all based on science. And you don't leave it to politicians to make decisions, you actually go to the scientist and find out really what it is all about and get their expert input into the decisions that governments have to make.

So it is terribly, terribly important. I understand there is a big science involvement at the Tully School, much bigger than the Statewide average and that's very good because it does show that this area understands the importance of science and its importance to our National economy and our National wellbeing.

Again, congratulations to those three young presenters. I was just saying to Mr Bukbardis not only would they have a good career in science they, would have a good career as public speakers and politicians dare I say in the future because they are obviously very articulate, very good at getting their message across.

So goog luck to you all. I know that you are anxiously waiting the next few weeks when it's vacation time and with Christmas coming up. But obviously you have had the use of this science building and of course those of you who are continuing on next year will start the year with this brand new science facility.

So with congratulations to all of those involved the P & C, the Council, the staff, the builders and those who put it all together, can I, on behalf of the Education Minister, Dr Brendan Nelson and the Federal Government, officially declare open the Tully High School Science Block.