CONSTITUENCY STATEMENT - Chifley-Blair Sister Schools Project

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (09:46): An excellent speech by the member for Ryan—I wholeheartedly endorse those sentiments. Statistically, Australians are the most charitable people in the world and, since the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi, the way Australians as a nation—sometimes as strangers, or as mates—are simply people who genuinely care is not only exemplary but extraordinary.

Many months after and following the tragedies in both Japan and New Zealand, Australians are still giving and helping Queenslanders to restore, rebuild and repair their great state. In my own electorate of Chifley, people from every background have pitched in and collectively worked towards raising as much money as they can. But, no matter how much money is raised, there is still much more to be done.

I talk with my Queensland parliamentary colleagues about the effects on their electorates and what their constituents are doing to rebuild their lives. I was especially moved by the member for Blair's comments in his discussions with me and in his condolence speech, where he said:

The damage to the lives of the people of Blair is as raw as the landscape around the Lockyer Creek, the Brisbane River and the Bremer River.

He also said:

This was our Hurricane Katrina …

The member for Blair told me that the clean-up costs will be more than a billion dollars, but it was the fact that most of the schools in his electorate were wiped out that caught my attention. We talked about doing something different, something practical, for them and we focused on two schools that would benefit from a helping hand.

Brassall State School lost three buildings, every computer, every piece of sports equipment, every teaching aid down to every piece of paper. Near Ipswich basketball stadium, which was destroyed and will cost about $800,000 to repair, is Bundamba State School. All of its buildings were flooded and school and sporting equipment destroyed.

With the Chifley spirit in mind, we set out on a mission to connect our communities. The Chifley-Blair Sister Schools Project was set up, bringing together members of both the local P&Cs to help raise funds for essential school equipment, in particular sports equipment. On Sunday, 22 May, I hosted a family fun day flood fundraiser for Brassall and Bundamba state schools. The member for Blair attended to talk about his electorate's experience firsthand. His remarks were insightful, personal and emotional and they gave a firsthand perspective of the devastating impact of the floods and the recovery work required. More than 30 members of local P&Cs participated and, through the effort, nearly $4,000 was raised.

The children at the event painted a banner for the schools as a goodwill gesture. It said: 'A problem shared is a problem halved.' Hopefully, the Chifley-Blair Sister Schools Project has helped lessen some of the burden of rebuilding while demonstrating the power of community from one electorate to another, from one P&C to another and simply from one friend to another.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley

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