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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (19 September) . . Page.. 2903..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

The Kingdom of Tonga now has a literacy rate of 98 per cent, an achievement that King Tupou IV was very proud of. As a former minister for education, he pushed for comprehensive reforms in the education system, and he succeeded. His dedication to improving the economy of Tonga was also highly admirable. Early in his reign, the king realised that there was a need for the Tongan economy to adapt to the times, that better planning was required and improved public utilities, services and infrastructure would lead his nation into the future. His vision led to a more stable economy, resulting in higher earnings and better housing coupled with the expansion of telecommunications, electricity, piped water, sealed roads and mostly free health services. That is his legacy.

The last few months have been a tumultuous time for Canberra's and Queanbeyan's Tongan community with the tragic loss of their community centre and now the passing of King Tupou IV. There are more than 300 individuals of Tongan heritage living in, and contributing to, our city. The loss of the king will be particularly hard for them as he was greatly loved and admired. That love and admiration were shown in the two well-attended memorial services held in his honour in Canberra since his passing.

In the years before his death at age 88, the king showed what a visionary individual he was in terms of implementing a more democratic structure in Tonga's political sphere. In February this year he replaced his son Prince Lavaka as Prime Minister with a commoner, Dr Feleti Sevele. Dr Sevele recently visited Canberra and attended a wonderful community meeting that was held in his honour. At the time, the ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope MLA, reflected upon the health of the king. Mr Stanhope highlighted the fact that the thoughts of the Canberra community and the ACT government were with the Kingdom of Tonga on the health of the king. Now, in his passing, our thoughts are still with the nation and our local Tongan community. May King Tupou IV rest in peace.

Lifeline

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (5.11): I rise tonight to promote a very well known and worthwhile organisation in our community; that is, Lifeline. I had the pleasure and honour of hosting a breakfast for them on Friday, 15 September and I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the use of your hospitality room then. We were very pleased, Lifeline and I, at the outcome of that breakfast. It was certainly a philanthropic event. About a dozen people came, some of whom have links with Lifeline. It was a very useful exercise and one that I hope to repeat on an annual basis, much like Ms MacDonald does with the Heart Foundation breakfast that she has.

I think that we have to look at the issues faced by organisations like Lifeline. During 2005-06 they answered some 18,500 calls. Sadly, though, around 20,000 calls were unable to be answered. That really is a dilemma for that organisation because, at the moment, they have some 220 counsellors and they need around 400 volunteers to be able to respond to and to meet that need.

What we are trying to do—I am honoured to be a part of helping there, if I can—is to look outside the square, certainly in regard to such a philanthropic approach. It has been seen in the past that it has been the major corporate entities and really big businesses that have linked with major charities and so forth, but I think there is a view in the


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