Thursday 1 September 2005

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, we Tasmanians tend to be a bit blasé about some of our successes and that is a pity because modesty may be a virtue but it can often lead to our disregarding or even taking for granted some of the things that make this State of ours a great place with a wonderful community. That false modesty is changing but perhaps not fast enough. I was particularly struck, Mr President, with that tribute to poet and author Margaret Scott, after her death early on Monday, which I read to the House yesterday. It was from academic, Peter Hay, and I will just repeat it:

'Margaret convinced a whole generation of aspirant Tasmanian writers that Tasmania was worth writing about and you didn't have to go to the other side of the world to be a writer.'

Mr President, you certainly do not have to go to the other side of the world to be a landscape painter because we have a world of landscape right here. You do not have to go to the other side of the world to be a musician; we have a great Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra which now has a much more secure future. We have the jewel in Launceston's musical crown, the St Cecilia School of Music. This has been a growing success since its establishment in 1974 and, amazingly, it now operates in all major cities in Australia as well as in New Zealand and Hong Kong. Strictly speaking, St Cecilia is more a cooperative of full?time, self?employed music teachers rather than a conventional school. It was established by Matthews Tyson who has personally trained about 25 teachers in the effective St Cecilia teaching model.

Mr President, this phenomenal establishment operates right under our noses - in fact, in my electorate of Rosevears - with very little fanfare. But like many other Tasmanian successes we need to be more aware of its work and its importance. The school in Launceston manages four string orchestras and four choirs. Its concerts attract large audiences; between 200 and 1 000 patrons, depending on the venue. It operates its own examinations and assessment system, which is available to teachers throughout Australia and New Zealand and Hong Kong and many of St Cecilias's students have become successful performers. Some have won awards, like Amy Cutler, the Young Achiever of the Year 2005, and the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year, Kate Husband.

The school's chamber orchestra has toured New Zealand, Darwin, Alice Springs, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne. There were capacity audiences in every city. Last year the Singelon choir went to Hong Kong. At the moment Austrade is helping St Cecilia to develop a marketing strategy for China. Apart from this sort of help, St Cecilia has received no financial assistance during its 31 years of operation.

St Cecilia has established itself as a major music force in Tasmania and represents the largest number of independent music students, teachers and performers in the State. It is an established part of Tasmania's cultural community, which is highly important to this State. Why is this? It is because Tasmania's identity is an important component in the way that we are viewed from outside. Our writers, artists and musicians are all part of the way that Tasmania is seen and in economic terms this is important for both tourism and trade.

St Cecilia, I suggest, has helped put Tasmania on the map. But more importantly, in my view, institutions like St Cecilia give our young people opportunities here which otherwise they would have to find elsewhere. With about 1 000 students attending the school in Launceston each week it is indeed a Tasmanian success story.