Legislative Council: Wednesday, July 03, 2019


Parliament House School Tours

The Hon. E.S. BOURKE (15:42): History can tell us many things about our future. History can inspire us in one direction and warn us from taking others. One of the greatest satisfactions this job brings is sharing the history of this parliament with schoolchildren. Many, if not most, students who enter this place are probably not overly excited about the prospect of heading to parliament for the day. For many, parliament is a big grey building on North Terrace that many would not think to enter as they do the Art Gallery or the SA Museum.

But it is this place—it is the walls that we have the privilege to work in every day—that hold the stories of why South Australia is the bold state that it is today. Exploring the history and stories behind the walls with schoolchildren from across the state is nothing but a joy. Hearing the reaction of every student who enters the other place never gets old. The gasps of excitement that such a place exists—a place that belongs to them, their families and their neighbours—a place that belongs to all South Australians has been here hidden all along.

School tours enable students to leave with hope and an understanding that, yes, there is a bloodline in the other place, there are lots of buttons to play with and, yes, these microphones bend in all different directions, much to the delight of our parliament. But parliament is much more than a big, scary grey building; it is a place where you can make a difference, a place where you can change the rules, and hopefully for the better.

Recently, I had the pleasure of helping the member for Light in the other place with a school tour. Trinity College North joined me in exploring the corridors of parliament. It was a busy morning with two school tours, but there was nothing but engagement and excitement from the students, especially when we visited Dr John Weste, who is always a highlight of the tour, especially when he shares his horror stories about mock turtle soup. They left this place buzzing with excitement and days later I received a very special parcel from the Trinity College North students. Inside, were over 50 letters detailing their newfound excitement about parliament.

I know this is pretty standard and students often write letters thanking members for school tours but, as I mentioned earlier, many of the students who came through the doors of parliament that day entered unaware of the tales of this place, unaware that in these chambers we create laws, debate and change how South Australia operates. But they left with something much bigger: they left with hope and they left with new dreams. Of the 50 letters I received recently, over 15 students, including Sofia, Lily, Harry, Kaylee and Abby, said they now wanted to be a member of parliament—nine and 10 year olds wanting to be members of parliament with the hope that they too can change the rules.

We all enter this place with the hope that we as individuals or our political parties can leave the state better than we found it. For the sake of students like Sofia, Lily and Harry, who came to this place with no dreams of becoming a member of parliament but left with high hopes—the hope of becoming a member of parliament and changing the rules—I hope that they will have the tools they need to stay in South Australia.

Unlike my school tours, I will not leave politics out of this conversation. I am giving this speech today because this government went to the last election and provided a false hope—a hope that they would deliver better services and a lower cost of living. The member for Dunstan, the Premier of this state, has let South Australia down and, more importantly, he has let South Australians down. The Premier championed before the election, and I quote, 'We [the Liberal Party] do not have a privatisation agenda.'

These were the very words of the member for Dunstan, Steven Marshall, only a month before the state election. I would say the Premier has a very different understanding of the words 'don't', 'privatisation' and 'agenda' to that of the South Australian community. The government has let South Australians down. There is no vision, there is no direction, but there are cuts. There is a penny-pinching privatisation agenda, an agenda to put profits before people, from trams, trains and our front-line health service of SA Pathology. There are increased fees and charges.

Time expired.