Books, Reading and Literature

Full transcript below:

Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to read to the grade 5 class at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School at Sunnybank. In light of the fact that I had to read to them, I am going to put my glasses on for this. It was a wonderful experience. I was the mystery reader for the class.

It was made completely easy because the book I read to them was a book called Funny Kid for President by Matt Stanton, which is sort of pitched at year 5 level, although I am reading it to my son who is in year 3 and he is loving it as well. I have to tell you that the book, a tale about Max who decides to run for class president, gave me a lot of campaigning tips. With a marginal seat, it was certainly good to have some support from the author, Matt Stanton, but also from the class. The year 5 class asked some of the best questions about politics in the Q&A session that I have ever encountered.

That brings me to another topic: next week, with Senator Linda Reynolds, I will be launching the Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers on Tuesday, 12 September. There will be many literary luminaries there, including guest speakers Tom Keneally and Mem Fox, and Matt Stanton, the author of Funny Kid for President. We will have a few books to give out as well. I would never encourage authors to give away their books—obviously, people should pay the authors where they can—but I am hoping that Matt Stanton will sign the book that I have for my son Leo, and I'm hoping that many people will come along.

We know that books are an essential part of a child's life that they can have with them forever. They inform, inspire and comfort, and they are good companions when you're by yourself. They are something worth investing in.

Obviously, I declare an interest in writing. I think my books are only on sale in a couple of bookshops in Australia, and one is the shop in Parliament House. Hopefully someone listening will find them there, hidden away in the dustbin shelves!

I do encourage people in the Moreton community and all MPs to get involved with the mystery reader program and, where they can, to make contact with their schools. We can be a great inspiration to our students. We can find the right level of books. Obviously, by buying books and so supporting Australian writers, we're doing something for our economy, our manufacturing sector and our artistic sector, and for the small businesses—the newsagents and bookshops—around Australia who can sell these books.

I'm a big fan of Australian literature. I'm looking forward to hearing from all of the authors—but particularly from Tom Keneally, whose book Bring Larks and Heroes is one of the first books I read in terms of a political awakening.

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