In his question to the NSW Parliament on Tuesday 11 November 2014, Mr Nile asked the following:
CARRINGTON PUBLIC SCHOOL REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICE
Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: My question is addressed to the Hon. Duncan Gay, representing the Premier. Is it a fact that Carrington Public School at Newcastle has withdrawn from the traditional RSL Remembrance Day service at the suburb’s cenotaph? How did the school establish that all parents do not support the Lord’s Prayer or hymns being included in the school remembrance service since previous surveys have shown that more than 80 per cent of Australians believe in God? How will the Government encourage public schools to continue to support and/or take part in Remembrance Day services that include the Lord’s Prayer and suitable hymns? Lest we forget.
The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I am aware that the Minister for Education and the department support public schools acknowledging and commemorating the service and sacrifice of Australia’s armed forces each Remembrance Day. Indeed, the Secretary of the Department of Education and Communities sent an email to staff this morning, including executive directors and school directors, that stated:
Please take time out of your duties today to observe one minute’s silence to pay respect to all the fallen and the wounded—and encourage your staff to do the same.
I was made aware of concerns, as the member indicated, about a service hosted by Carrington Public School. The school had its own service which was attended by all students and staff at the school, as apparently has been the case in previous years. Student leaders ran the service and community members were encouraged to participate. I am told that the school has run this service for a number of years. I am informed also that a hymn has not been a part of the service in previous years; however, one member of the community approached the school to suggest, quite properly, that a hymn should be included in the service.
The school, in consultation with the parents and citizens association, decided to proceed with the format of the service that had been followed in previous years. A one-minute silence was observed and a story was shared with staff and students about the significance of the poppy. Students sang In Flanders Field and recited the Recessional. An officer of the Lambton-New Lambton RSL sub-branch yesterday contacted the principal and advised her that the RSL supported the school’s decision to follow that format for the service.
Schools in New South Wales do observe Remembrance Day and each school does so in a way that best suits its school community. I acknowledge the concerns raised by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and his question as to whether schools have withdrawn from the service at the cenotaph in the past. I will pass those concerns on to the Premier and obtain a detailed answer. In conclusion, I acknowledge that members of this House, including Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, attended the Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph today. It was an extremely moving service and it was conducted in an absolutely excellent manner.