Senate debates

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Statements by Senators

Dainere's Rainbow Brain Tumour Research Fund, ANZAC Day Schools' Awards, Free Trade Agreements

1:44 pm

Photo of Zed SeseljaZed Seselja (ACT, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On 27 July this year I had the privilege of launching the Qcity Transit advertising campaign for Dainere's Rainbow Brain Tumour Research Fund.

The fund was created after Dainere Anthoney, aged 15, of Gungahlin was diagnosed with a brain tumour in March 2009. Sadly, Dainere passed away in June 2013, but her legacy remains strong. The bus campaign is part of that legacy. The campaign is directed at creating vital awareness of paediatric brain tumour research and funding, not just across the wider Canberra and Queanbeyan regions but also around Australia.

Two buses, with their bright Dainere's-rainbow-themed advertisements will be used to draw attention to this cause. All funds raised will go directly to paediatric brain tumour research at the Sydney Children's Hospital's Kids Cancer Centre. The campaign will run indefinitely on the buses.

In the little time that she was given, Dainere made it her aim to increase awareness of this horrific disease—something which she has achieved. But, of course, the task is ongoing. She published books about the illness, including a children's book about how a child should be welcomed back to school following treatment. Her book, You Have To Go Through a Storm to Get to a Rainbow came about as a result of Dainere's blogs cataloguing her experiences with this terrible disease, which she then turned into a book. Her later children's book has since been placed in every government school library in the ACT.

Dainere was also posthumously named as the Young Canberra Citizen of the Year in 2013, alongside her brother, Jarret. Today, Jarrett is a resilient young ambassador who gives courage, hope and a voice to children and families who suffer from this terrible disease. Making great personal sacrifices, Jarrett continues to identify and drive projects to support the charity that bears his sister's name. He was a state finalist for Young Australian of the Year this year.

Dainere's photo and her special words appear on the back of the buses:

My little voice could only make a small difference but together many voices could create change.

Dainere is an inspiration and a credit to our community. She showed me that age is no barrier when it comes to getting involved, to helping others and to making a difference.

It was a great honour to launch her campaign on 27 July, but it is a privilege to continue to represent and advocate for Dainere and her family in this place. I also pay tribute to Yvonne and Stephen, her parents, who continue the wonderful work of Dainere.

On 14 August I had the great joy of standing alongside the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Senator Michael Ronaldson, to present Good Shepherd Primary School with the national prize in this year's ANZAC Day Schools' Awards. It is a credit to Graham Pollard, the principal, and the entire team at Good Shepherd Primary School here in Canberra.

This was the second year in a row that a school in the ACT won the national award, and that is a credit to our great local schools. It seems not very long ago that I was in this chamber congratulating Melba Copland Secondary School for their efforts—one year ago. But one year on, the students at Good Shepherd engaged in a variety of activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings over a one-week period.

Each morning at assembly, parents who are current serving members of the Australian Defence Force, assisted by students, recalled the deeds of relatives who served during the First World War. The names of family members were called on a roll of honour and the descendant child received a cross with a poppy and the relative's name on it. The crosses were then 'planted' in the school's Garden of Remembrance. Names of family members who have served in any capacity were also acknowledged on a wall of remembrance. Following each assembly, the serving ADF members visited classrooms to talk with the children.

Two adjacent classrooms were transformed into a mini war memorial. One room contained memorabilia from the First World War. These included a helmet, barbed wire from Gallipoli, photos, records and stories. The second room was a discovery room, where students could try on uniforms, crawl into a trench, look over a parapet with a periscope and sit in a tent and taste some bully beef on a dry biscuit. In fact, I was told while I was there—showing what a small place Canberra is!—that the portables in the science block at Good Shepherd were actually the portables from my old school, St Thomas the Apostle Primary School, in Kambah. Obviously, there is still a need for better facilities in some of these schools if we are still using the portables from 30-odd years ago down in Kambah. But it was a great local link!

Each class had access to a memorial box filled with real and replica uniforms, equipment and artefacts from the Australian War Memorial for a lesson. All students were read the story, Lone Pine, and the school acquired a Lone Pine seedling, which was planted in the school grounds and marked by a plaque. The tree was planted by the oldest and youngest students in the school.

The week concluded with a commemorative service where parents, students and visitors were invited to bring a poppy forward to remember family members lost in war. A current serving member of the Army played the last post. I think it was an outstanding effort. You can tell from that description why Good Shepherd was such a worthy winner of the national award this year.

These commemorations are an important part of developing young Australians and I congratulate the dozens of schools across the ACT that participated in this year's ANZAC Day Schools' Awards. I particularly would like to recognise the efforts of Rosary Primary School as the runner-up in the ACT Primary School Division, and I would also like to recognise the efforts of St Edmund's College and Merici College as the ACT winner and runner-up respectively in the ACT Secondary School Division.

It is important that we continue to commemorate the many thousands of Australians who have given their lives for our country, its values and its freedoms, as well as acknowledging and supporting our veterans, our currently-serving personnel and their families. It certainly fills me with pride that the spirit of remembrance continues to burn brightly in schools across the ACT 100 years after our troops landed at Gallipoli and 70 years after our victory in the Pacific.

On another issue, I would like to make note of a free trade agreement seminar held at Old Parliament House recently. This was on the morning of 12 August. The Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, and I engaged with local business owners from across the ACT at the free trade seminar. The seminar focused on free trade agreements which this government has secured with Korea, Japan and China—agreements which will guarantee jobs and growth for future Australians.

The forum held at Old Parliament House brought together a diverse range of small- to medium-sized businesses. The diversity of the businesses in attendance is a sound reflection of the vibrant small- to medium-sized business community in Canberra.

I was honoured to stand with the Minister for Small Business and discuss how we as a government continue to be the best friend of small business and how actions this government have taken have opened up new markets, yielding greater opportunity for businesses here in Canberra.

Since the budget in May, I have met with dozens of business owners and managers across the ACT. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. They are unanimous in their approval of the small business measures we delivered in the budget. Our small businesses are positioned to make the most of our free trade agreements and continue to succeed.

This government continues to open new markets through free trade agreements across the region. Securing access to Japanese, Korean and Chinese markets is essential for future success, not just for small businesses but also for medium and large enterprises as they compete in the global economy. The seminar was part of that process.

In closing I just want to say what an opportunity these free trade agreements are for businesses right around the country. But especially here in the ACT. People might not be aware—because we have such a large public sector—that our private sector is made up of many small businesses, over 20,000 small businesses. They dominate our private sector employment here in Canberra. Of course the focus going forward and the focus with these free trade agreements—whilst we have opened it up with agriculture and various other products—is the services sector, which presents amazing opportunities, outstanding opportunities.

Canberra businesses and businesses in the region focus on the services sector. This is what ACT businesses excel at. So I think the opportunities which will open up as part of these free trade agreements, particularly the China free trade agreement but likewise Korea and Japan, will present extraordinary opportunities for ACT businesses to grow.

There are some great Canberra success stories—like Aspen Medical, for instance. And more and more businesses will grow in that sort of space, doing amazing things. We have such great know-how here in Canberra. It is our great strength—our smarts and our highly educated population. I commend those free trade agreements to the Senate.