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Happy Birthday Play School—Celebrating 50 year's exhibition—National Museum of Australia, Canberra


E & OE


Well thanks so much Mathew, and if I could acknowledge the tremendous work you do as Director of this fabulous institution. Also David Jones, the Chair of the Museum. And the fabulous Benita and the incredible Alex, wonderful to be with you. Benita, I know you've been referred to already a few times this morning as a former Play School presenter, but I think once you've presented on Play School, to use the words of Hotel California, you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. And what a good thing that is too. But most of all, can I acknowledge the children, the boys and girls and the parents who are here today. Everything that Play School is, everything that Play School is about, is for you. That's why we're here today.

As Mat mentioned, I do have the great privilege as the Minister for Communications and the Arts of having responsibility for two great and important national institutions—the National Museum of Australia and the ABC. Today we have one institution paying tribute to and acknowledging a signature program of another. On the way here I was having a bit of a think about Play School and my own time growing up. I was born in '67, so I'm roughly the same age as Play School. There were great cultural debates that were played out as I was growing up in Secondary School, in Primary School and in Pre-School. In Secondary School, the great cultural debate was: are you a Ford or a Holden person? In Primary School, the great playground debate was: were you an Abba or a Bay City Rollers fan? And in Kindergarten and pre-school, the raging and torrid debate was: were you a Play School viewer or a Romper Room viewer? Now obviously Romper Room was the import. It was the global franchise. Play School was the home grown product. And let me confess, I was and am, a Ford person, an ABBA fan and a Play School viewer.

But ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, today is in part a celebration of the ABC's commitment to quality children's programming. And today for all of us is a celebration of the wonder of youth. It's a celebration of what it's like to have that unbridled curiosity that the boys and girls who are with us today have. It takes us back to the core of who we are. So I think to open this exhibition, I couldn't do better than to say: Open wide, come inside. It's Play School.