St Monica's College speech in Parliament

On Friday I was very pleased to welcome the member for Sydney, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to the Scullin electorate. I was even more pleased to introduce her to the students and school community at St Monica's College in Epping. I wanted to bring together the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and St Monica's because of the school's deep and abiding interest in social justice and, as one of the teachers put it to me, the students' keen awareness of and interest in a world that is beyond Epping.

It was terrific to bring together a question and answer session with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition which focused principally on questions of foreign affairs. Many questions on international development and our overseas aid budget were raised, with a particular focus on and a particular concern about the deep cuts contained in this government's budget.Of course a wider range of questions were asked by students, all of which were deftly answered. Through the course of this conversation I was struck by a couple of things. Firstly, while we are often cynical about the attitude of young people to the political process, the young students that we encountered were deeply aware of contemporary political issues. Secondly, it was evident to me, in large part due to the quality and respectful nature of the conversation with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that these students were keen to find ways through which they could participate more closely in reshaping their community and indeed their world. I thank all at St Monica's, particularly co-captains Ryan Bolger and Nicole Kotsopoulos, Campus Director Paula Di Maria and Public Relations Manager Peter Cox for the warm and generous welcome.

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