Page 5380 - Week 14 - Thursday, 19 November 2009

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St Jude’s school has been an amazing success story, and it was quite a moving thing to hear about it. It is a school dedicated to providing top-class education to bright but poor children. It is built near Mount Mary, adjacent to Mount Kilimanjaro. Volunteers built the school brick by brick, persuaded local builders to supply materials and opened it in 2002 with two blocks.

Universities in Africa teach in English. St Jude teaches English to a very high standard. Because of those standards, it has attracted some of the best teachers and produced some of the best graduates. It is run completely on faith and donations. The bank balance regularly hits $5 or $10, and it relies on volunteers. It now has over 890 students who were otherwise facing a life of manual labour. It attracts an extra 200 new students every year. The standard is a 100 per cent pass rate, not five per cent, which is usual for rural schools.

I would just like to pay tribute to Gemma Sisia, an Australian woman doing extraordinary work in Africa and serving some of the poorest people in Africa. She spoke about the very strict criteria for the school. They get hundreds and hundreds of kids coming every Friday, and they only take a few of them. They have to be five, six or seven years of Attorney-General, they cannot be going to a private school, they have to be the poorest of the poor, and they need to be able to read and write. They are tough requirements, but they can only look after so many. I just wanted to pay tribute to her work and just say how impressed I was to hear her in the flesh at Parliament House on Monday.

I wanted to also speak briefly about the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry dinner, which I attended last night. It was well attended, as always, and I would like to thank the outgoing president, Tony Howarth; the new president, David Michaelis; and Peter Anderson, the chief executive.

But I did want to also mention Craig Emerson and actually give him a bit of a plug. Craig Emerson spoke at this dinner and I believe gave one of the more honest assessments of the global financial crisis and the reason that Australia has done so much better than so many other nations around the world that I have heard. Despite having a little bit of politics in it, as always, it was a far more honest assessment than we have heard from any Labor politician on this issue to date.

He identified five things in order. No 1 was our banking system and the strength of our banking system. He paid great credit to the reforms made under the previous coalition government. No 2 was, indeed, monetary policy; No 3 was the China stimulus; No 4 was the Rudd stimulus; and No 5 was the fact that business did not panic and did not lay off workers in a mass panic but, instead, held on to workers by making flexible arrangements. In Dr Emerson’s opinion, these were the main factors behind Australia’s resilience in the face of great global difficulties.

I pay tribute to him, in stark contrast to people such as the Prime Minister, who have sought to rewrite history, who have failed to give credit to the previous government, and, indeed, who have failed to actually take account of all these other factors, including the China stimulus, including monetary policy, including the banking system and all of those things that helped us survive it. It is a tribute to the resilience

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