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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 November 2009) . . Page.. 5127 ..

place went to primary school—indeed in the 1980s. I attended St Thomas the Apostle and it is a wonderful school and it is a wonderful school community. Even though it is not as big a school as it was when I was there—it was a very large school then; Kambah was the centrepiece of nappy valley back then and I think there were four streams right through St Thomas the Apostle when I was there; it is a bit smaller than that now—the fete continues to be a major event.

We were very well welcomed by the principal, Judy Spence, who really made us all feel very welcome. It is a tribute to Judy Spence, the leadership, the P&F and the school and parish community that these events still continue to thrive. There were many hundreds of people attending and I am sure it will prove to be a very successful fundraiser for the St Thomas the Apostle school community. It is a very important part of our community in Tuggeranong. We very much value the contribution that schools such as St Thomas the Apostle make to education in the ACT, in particular to Catholic education. More broadly, we welcome the contribution that Catholic schools, independent schools and government schools make to our community and we have no hesitation in endorsing the wonderful work that they do.

A number of changes have gone on at St Thomas the Apostle since I was there, but a number of things have not changed. Indeed, I was there in my old grade 6 classroom, which I do not believe has changed a bit, although it will be having an overhaul very soon, I understand. There were a number of wonderful events on the day. So I pay tribute once more to the St Thomas the Apostle school community, the principal, Judy Spence, and the P&F. It was a great pleasure to be back there.

I also had the opportunity to go to the Holy Family school fete on Saturday, which, I think, is one of the largest, certainly Catholic, primary schools in the ACT. This was once again a very big event and again the school community got behind it. These are great events.

I had the opportunity to take my children to both of these events and they had a wonderful time, going on a number of the rides, eating the fairy floss and doing all those wonderful things. But in the end these are great fundraisers for these schools and they are very important. It is important that the community get behind them, and they always do. But they do give us the opportunity to affirm the role that these schools play in our community.

We very much believe in and value the choices that parents make in terms of education. We believe in a very strong government education sector. But we also believe that the non-government education sector in the ACT makes an extraordinarily valuable contribution to our community. Over 40 per cent of parents choose that sector and we respect and value that choice. It is important that governments continue to get behind and support Catholic education and independent schools, as well as the government sector, because that diversity and that choice, we believe, make Canberra a better city and add so much to our community.

We pay tribute to these school communities and pay tribute generally to the role that they are playing in developing the students, in developing our children and developing the leaders of the future of not just the ACT but our nation.

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