Dr ALY: I think I will spend some time today on congratulating all the schools and all the school students out there who have made it through—or almost—a particularly challenging year this year. Let's face it: we're all pretty happy to see the end of 2020. Certainly for our schools in Western Australia it hasn't been as challenging as it has been for some of the schools in the eastern states. Largely due to the McGowan Government's tough stance on the border and following the health advice, we've been very fortunate in Western Australia that the impact of COVID-19 on our schools, with schools closing down and disruption to education, hasn't been as acute or as acutely felt as it has in other parts of Australia.
Last week, I was honoured to visit Emmanuel Christian Community School and take along with me the US Consul-General for Western Australia, Mr David Gainer, to provide a very timely insight into the differences between the Australian voting system and the US voting system. We spent around an hour with the year 11 politics and history class, as well as some ring-ins from some of the other classes, and the students were highly engaged in the conversation that we had with Mr Gainer. I thank him for taking the time to come out and visit Emmanuel Christian Community School with me last week. I also met with the year 9s at Ashdale Secondary College last week, and, again, it was an incredibly engaged, thoughtful and intelligent conversation that was had with the students there.
Over the year, despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, I've been very fortunate to be able to visit many of my senior secondary colleges. I got to MC the Mercy College school ball earlier in the year; that was fun. I also visited Kingsway Christian, St Stephen's and a couple of schools outside of my electorate—Sacred Heart and St Mary's. During the lockdown we managed to Zoom in with some of the primary school kids to ensure that, even though I was unable to visit them and they were unable to visit Canberra, we could still have those conversations about our democratic process and what it's like to be a Member of Parliament, hopefully inspiring the next generation of political leaders as well.
Lately, though, those visits have been rather bittersweet, because, while I have been encouraging these young people to pursue their dreams, I know that, due to the changes that this government has introduced to higher education, many of them will not be able to do that.
Good luck to all the year 12s finishing their exams, and goodbye to 2020!