Page 3612 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005
It is interesting that the small countries conference, which ran for the first two days, was, in some ways, more robust and more interesting than the mainstream conference. In terms of the election of a chairman, you probably all know now that the Speaker of the West Bengal parliament, with about 160-odd votes—167 votes, I think—defeated Sir Geoffrey Henry of the Cook Islands, who got 83. Sir Geoffrey Henry spoke beautifully; in fact, gave the best speech by a country mile. But good luck to the member from West Bengal. Sadly, the last day of the conference was a bit of an acrimonious finish. I will talk about that in more detail perhaps in my report.
I must say that the Australian team was an excellent team. There were members of all of the mainstream Australian political parties, and I could find no fault with any of them. In fact, the Australian team made quite a robust contribution to all of the plenary and workshop sessions, which was lovely to see.
The host country was magnificent. There were jokes about Fiji time and all of that, but they were so graceful and they bent over backwards to host what was quite a successful meeting.
I must put in a plug, finally, for the Australian administration for this trip; it was quite effective. I must put in a plug also for Max, our own home-grown member, the Deputy Clerk, who did a great job. He carried himself well, by the way. It is a pity that he is not here now. His administrative coordination of the entire team effort was most effective and his excellent advice to new chums like me was certainly well received. I appreciated his presence.
MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (6.11): I rise to inform the house of an event that I took part in on Wednesday, 31 August just gone, which gave a great deal of pleasure to me. Dr Foskey also participated in this event. I refer to the principal-for-a-day scheme. I have to say that it is a brilliant idea. It is now running for its second year in the ACT. I have to say that I had a great day.
My experience of being principal for a day was at the Wanniassa school, which members may or may not be aware is a dual-campus, kindergarten to year 10 school. I had the opportunity to visit both the senior and the junior campuses throughout the day. I know that it is a radical idea having a K to 10 school, but I can say that the Wanniassa school has been operating successfully since the year 2000. They have approximately 800 students between the two campuses. I was guided on the day by the Wanniassa school principal, Judy Pettiford, and had the opportunity to meet with both staff and students.
There were many highlights for the day. The first class that I attended was a studies of society and environment class. They were looking at renaissance. Each class was presenting what they considered to be a renaissance figure, somebody who epitomised a renaissance—I am reluctant to say it—man. They were all men, I have to say. The class was making very good use of some great software and one of the many smart boards that they now have on their campus, because they have taken up the opportunity of the two-for-two to add to their complement of smart boards.