Ku-ring-gai Electorate School Leaders

Alister Henskens SC MP and Ku-ring-gai and School Captains and Parliament and dinner
17 September 2015

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) [5.59 p.m.]: I wish to speak about leadership and the importance of leaders in our community. Since becoming the member for Ku-ring-gai earlier this year, I have happily been introduced to many of the leaders around us. I have met police chiefs, chiefs of commerce and industry, champions of our environment, sporting leaders, heads of government departments and those showing the way in crucial community organisations—organisations like Lifeline, Rotary and Meals on Wheels. I have met religious leaders and school principals. A leader has been described as a person who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal.

Leadership is a bit like intelligence: It is partly innate and partly a developed skill. Over time, you learn judgement about when to lead and when to consult. A number of years ago my predecessor in the seat of Ku-ring-gai, a leader of this State, Barry O'Farrell, began a tradition that I was happy to follow. Each year he would invite the captains of the high schools in the Ku-ring-gai electorate to a dinner here at Parliament House in their honour. Just last week I was privileged to host, be seated amongst, and break bread with this group of high school leaders. I have no doubt, given their intellectual conversation and declared goals, that many will become leaders in their chosen fields.

I was pleased to host—in alphabetical order of their schools—Charlotte Stump and Sarah Kelland, the head prefects of Abbotsleigh School for Girls; Sophie Murray-Walker and Nicholas Chang, the captains of Barker College; Tian Du and Sanjna Kalasabail, captain and vice-captain at Hornsby Girls' High School; Harry Chapman and Edward Fay, captain and vice-captain at Knox Grammar School, one of whom is a terrific rugby player; James Spence and Lyndsey Green, captain and vice-captain at Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High School; Georgia McGinness and Olivia Dressler-Smith, captain and vice-captain at Loreto Normanhurst; Jethro Yuen and Lachlan Berry, captain and vice-captain at Normanhurst Boys High School, Roshana Kanagaratnam and Alexandra Hunter, head and deputy head prefect at Pymble Ladies' College, Sarah Haynes and Geena Tebbutt, captain and vice-captain at Ravenswood School for Girls; Lucy Crothers and Sam Batchelor, captains at St Leo's College; and Angus Macdonald and Jeanti Profaca, captains at Turramurra High School. As they say, the world is their oyster.

In coming weeks, most of those who were there that night, and their fellow year 12 students, will be sitting their final high school exams, and we wish them all the best. These year 12 students are now sitting in the departure lounge of life, waiting for take-off. I urge all graduating students to make sure that they make the best of the opportunities ahead. I urge them to make sure that they depart the airport and not spend the rest of their lives waiting in the departure lounge without boarding the plane. In recent weeks, I had the pleasure of hosting another group of school students who are at an earlier stage of life. They were speaking at the annual Ku-ring-gai Electorate Schools Public Speaking Competition in this very Chamber, competing for the Federation shield. The standard of the speeches and the talent on offer that morning amazed me and all those gathered there.

The event was taken out this year by Emma Woodcock from Pymble Public School, with Hamish Lapsley, from Turramurra North Public School, runner-up. They all made imaginative speeches on the topic, "You get what you put in." The other finalists were Rose Guiffre from Warrawee Public School; Sophie Nolan from Wahroonga Public School; Alice Eldershaw from Gordon West Public School; Stephanie McArthur from Normanhurst Public School and Sachin Sirkari from Beaumont Road Public School. I thank 2GB radio newsreader Natalie Peters, leading barrister Alec Leopold, SC, and event founder Margaret Wick, who were the judges, and Aileen Wolf for her assistance and expertise on the day. There are endless quotes available pertaining to leadership, but I think two are very relevant to what we would all like from our leaders, whether they are in schools, the community or the political arena. French General Napoleon Bonaparte said, "A leader is a dealer in hope." Former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said, "The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been."

I think that that last quote has significance when it comes to the political events on the national stage this week. Tony Abbott came to the fore as Liberal leader and later Prime Minister when Australia was, quite simply, in a mess. Under Labor, our borders were porous and the economy was going backwards every day, drowning in debt. Other Prime Ministers had enjoyed the benefits of having been gifted thriving, healthy balance books, which were left to them by Liberal-Nationals governments. Tony Abbott had no such fortune, but took on the job with determination. This week he left that job with every right to hold his head high. Whether or not you support Tony Abbott and the Coalition, I believe all Australians should acknowledge his efforts as leader in many areas in righting the national ship.

Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.04 p.m.]: I thank the member for Ku-ring-gai for supporting young leaders in his community. He is one of the outstanding new leaders in this Parliament. He has had a very distinguished legal career and he is a great addition to this place. The job of any leader is to create new leaders, and that is exactly what the member for Ku-ring-gai is doing by encouraging and developing young people in his community to use their talents and what they have learnt at school to aspire to make a contribution to something bigger than them. The member for Ku-ring-gai is doing that every day of the week. Hopefully, some of those leaders that he hosted for dinner at Parliament House will, one day, step up and make a contribution to our community, our State and our country. The future of this country is in very good hands if that is the case.