House of Representatives Speech- Isaacs Electorate: Building the Education Revolution Program 2010

I rise today to talk about my recent visits to several primary schools in my electorate to see how the infrastructure works that are part of the Rudd government’s stimulus package are going. The Building the Education Revolution funding that every school across the country has received is the largest ever investment by the Commonwealth in this country’s schools. This is an investment in our most valuable resource: our children.

I rise today to talk about my recent visits to several primary schools in my electorate to see how the infrastructure works that are part of the Rudd government’s stimulus package are going. The Building the Education Revolution funding that every school across the country has received is the largest ever investment by the Commonwealth in this country’s schools. This is an investment in our most valuable resource: our children.

In my electorate alone, nearly $100 million has been invested in primary and secondary schools under the Building the Education Revolution and Primary Schools for the 21st Century funding. It was great to see how classrooms, learning centres, libraries and halls are taking shape. They will give our kids a wonderful learning environment for their primary education. Despite this, the opposition voted against this building program. Clearly they are against our kids having modern facilities and learning spaces. Clearly they are against boosting jobs in the construction sector.

Just last Friday I spoke to the project manager who is building the new school hall at Dandenong South Primary School. He told me that the Building the Education Revolution program has seen his company put on plenty of new workers just as the construction industry was experiencing the worst downturn he can remember. He said that if it were not for the stimulus package he himself would not have a job. Maybe some of those who sit opposite should do as I did last week and go down to their local primary schools to talk to the people rebuilding and adding to schools for our children. I challenge them to talk to these workers, people who have families and may be paying off a mortgage, and tell them that they want to yank their employment from under their feet. Tell these workers that the coalition voted against the stimulus package that has delivered them employment during a very tough time in their industry.

It is not unusual for the opposition to miss the point when it comes to Building the Education Revolution. We hear the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow education spokesperson constantly bleating about how this program just delivers halls that schools do not need or nitpicking about construction problems. Last week I visited a dozen schools all around my electorate, I talked with principals and school leaders about how their building projects are coming along, I gauged the reaction of the local school communities and I saw the building works for myself. What I heard and saw was encouraging and at times inspiring. I would like to invite the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow education spokesperson down to St Anthony’s Primary School in Noble Park, a school with one of the lowest socioeconomic school populations in Victoria, to see how the first stage of the construction program has transformed a set of tired, old-fashioned classrooms running off central corridors into sleek, ultramodern learning spaces for the senior students.

As she showed me around the open-plan learning spaces, Assistant Principal Alison Lomas told me what a difference in the students’ attitude and focus on learning she has noticed in just the first 20 days of this school year, the time in which these spaces have been used by students. And I could see why: a bright red central learning area with a projector and electronic whiteboard that seamlessly opens into modern and flexible class areas—not rooms—that encourage freedom of movement for children and teachers. There is an outdoor learning area where teachers can take children out on sunny days and a lot of the furniture inside can be moved easily to give flexibility in the use of the learning spaces by classes.

How can those opposite claim that this does not make a difference? Our top private schools have always put a premium on surroundings and learning environments having a positive impact on how their students learn, and here is a primary school serving students from some of our lowest socioeconomic communities with a state-of-the-art facility that will have a major effect on how those children learn and prosper.

I am proud to be part of a Labor government that is investing so much in this country’s future. It is a shame that the opposition still cannot bear to admit that our children will be advantaged by this stimulus program and that the work created by this program supports thousands of jobs. I think that the Australian people are smart enough to see that the coalition is too busy playing politics to care about our children’s future and the jobs of working Australians. I share with the schools, principals and parents in my electorate the anticipation of finishing the new learning areas, libraries, halls and classrooms that will enrich their students’ education experience.

My only regret today is that I do not have time to talk about all of the other primary schools that I visited last week: Rowellyn Park Primary School, where there is a wonderful new classroom complex; Carrum Downs Primary School, where there is a wonderful new school hall that they thought that they would never see; and St Joachim’s Primary School, where there is a hall. The entire school community come up to me in the street and they say what a wonderful facility that will be for their school in the future.