Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Speech: Coorparoo Secondary College Awards Night

Thank you very much for that warm welcome. It’s wonderful to be back at Coorparoo Secondary College. I visited this campus, this school, this college, dozens and dozens of times over the last 15 years. This is a good college. This is a good college, and it is not just a good college, it is a first class Queensland secondary school. If you hear anyone say anything to the contrary, on my behalf just go tell them to jump in the lake. Or further.

I have been here to so many presentations over the years, and seen so many wonderful young people come through the doors of this college and stand on this stage, go on to achieve enormous things for themselves, their families and their communities. We should be proud of them and also doubly proud of the fact that our community here at this college has given them first class nurture here. The studies they have undertaken, and the sporting events in which they have participated, and the wonderful musical tradition of this school, its dramatic theatrical traditions, but also the cultivation of citizenship. This place really stands out. And for those of you who are parents at this school, for those of you who have been teaching here a long time, or for those of you who have just come, for those of you who are students here; be proud of Coorparoo Secondary College.

The second thing I would like to say is to pay tribute to Saint Margie Gamble. I don’t know if we believe in secular canonisation but you should be a candidate. When the chips were down, when we were threatened with effectively the closure of this college in terms of offering a complete secondary education and the loss of its culture over the last half century, people in this community stood up. But none more so than Margie Gamble the President of your P&C. Put your hands together for her. People like me may have made a few speeches here and there and become a general irritant in the political processes associated with this decision as it was taken. But frankly all that counted for nothing unless you the school community rose up as one, and you did. I was here for the meetings, I saw it. You stunned people by the fact that you cared, and you had leadership through your community that cared with you and were able to organise and take a message to the highest levels of government, that this college does not just have a 50 year past; it has a 50 year future. And when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of this college, when I’m 105, don’t worry I may have retired by then, we will look back at this as being a very important year 2013. The year that Coorparoo Secondary College was saved.

I’m here tonight to present foreign language awards. I asked my staff tonight as we drove here, “how many of these have I donated and awarded over the years”, to which the answer is, whoever receives this award tonight will be the recipient of the 967th Kevin Rudd Foreign Language Award across Brisbane’s Southside. I began it for a reason; I continue it for a reason. All of you good kids, and the teachers who support you here, will become citizens of the world. The world is becoming a smaller place, you’ve seen that, and the extraordinary collection of the human family represented by the students here this evening.  This is a great thing for Australia’s future. And the worlds future will not just be written in a single language called English, it will be written in many languages of the world, including those taught here. That’s why I’m proud to contribute this award. That’s why I’m proud to have contributed 963 of these awards, and book vouchers along with them, over the past 15 years. You know I’ve run into people in the United Nations in New York who say, you gave me a foreign language award when I was in grade 7 at such a such a school. Or I was in grade 10 I was in grade 12. That makes me happier than most things in public life.

Finally, to you the college community. I thank the P&C, I thank you the dedicated core of teaching professionals,  I thank you the parents for the love, care, kindness and attention and forbearance that you display towards kids growing up. Because my last one has just finished secondary school as well, I know what you've been through. And on top of that, you the young people of this college, go forth and have great confidence in the wonderful things that you can do for yourselves, your community and your country.