Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (09:57): Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend a special event where friends, family and teachers, past and present, gathered at the Blacktown Workers Club to celebrate a special event that took place in 1962—the first time the doors were opened at St Michael’s Primary School. There was a room at the Blacktown Workers Club full of good memories and great humour. St Michael’s has been such a valued member of our local community in Blacktown for so many years, and so many people have benefited from the dedication, care and commitment administered by those with the care of students at that school.
I was especially pleased to see so many former students step forward and share their memories on the night about growing up—the best years of their lives, as they said, being spent in the care of St Michael’s Primary. It reflected the truly special place in the hearts and minds of locals. I just want to use my time today to thank Principal John Laffan, along with Parents and Friends Association President, Jennifer Warn and Secretary, Natasha Scanlon, for their warm invitation to the dinner. Because these things do take time to organise, prepare and coordinate, I also want to thank everyone associated with the evening for putting on a great night. I am sure it was even more special to celebrate that 50-year anniversary on a night that had been so well organised.
It has been a real highlight of my first term to build such a productive and engaged working relationship with the wonderful Catholic schools in the Chifley electorate, and I would like them to know that I very much appreciated sincerely their welcoming approach. It has been and remains my firm intention to support them in any way I possibly can. So many of us feel excited about the future of education, particularly those in the Catholic and independent sector, because of the realisation that we will fundamentally alter the nation’s approach to the way that we invest in education in this country. That is why I am deeply disappointed to see the New South Wales government’s $1.7 billion cut to education. Teachers and parents in the Catholic and independent sector know that a freeze to their funding is as bad as a cut, and it is the message that resonated yesterday in a meeting held between the Prime Minister and the Catholic and independent schools. That delegation comprised of senior representatives, including Bishop Anthony Fisher and also Dr John Collier, from St Andrew’s Cathedral School, to name a few, there to echo the deep and serious concerns of educators, staff, parents and students about what is being proposed.